The first steps to mindfulness… it’s not what you think
April 24, 2016
Following on from my last post I’ve been reading Ruby Wax’s “Frazzled”. Written in her inimitable tone it’s one of the less annoying self-help books I’ve read in recent times. All this self improvement is hard work, I tend to like bullet point self-help books, ones that tell me what to do…
Anyhoooo … there is a 6-week mindfulness course in the book, and Week One – “Waking up and Noticing” - has some homework. It’s about weaning yourself off autopilot and making you realise how much time you spend ON it.
I’m supposed to choose an activity I do regularly each day, and for a few moments while I’m doing it, to pay attention to every sensation – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Not thinking about the thing I'm doing, but SENSING it.
Something like showering, making tea, or when you are on your computer.
Sounds easy right?
“oh, I’m in the shower, let’s see if I can pay attent…. Oh bugger, nearly out of shampoo I’ll… no, wait, I should be FEELING this… mmm smells good… god look at the state of the shower glass, bloody cleaner… ARGH. CONCENTRATE…*sings to self a little* *Drops shower gel on foot*
Maybe I could try this on the train?... er what, are you INSANE? Even if (and it’s a big if) you do get a seat, I don’t really think you want to be too mindful of the smell of those South Eastern carriages”. No, I may be right.
Trying it on the computer turns out to be a complete disaster of course. I mean, I can feel what it’s like tapping away on the keys, but I’m also having to concentrate on what I’m typing, and thinking about what I need to say, so I don’t think it really qualified as mindfulness.
On Saturday MrS and I went to a wine tasting, one of my Christmas presents (more on this later). We were there all day, tasting 6 whites in the morning and 6 reds in the afternoon, with lunch in the middle and cheese with the reds during the afternoon. Half way through the second red of the afternoon I realised I was finally accomplishing my homework! I was concentrating on the look, scent and smell of each of the wine. I was considering each glass carefully, noticing the colour, searching out each individual smell, and then finally each individual flavour. I was completely involved in what I was doing.
So in case you’re wondering, the first step to mindfulness can be found in the bottom of a glass of South African Pinotage…who knew?