Mindful Task – Opening and Closing Doors

Every day we find ourselves performing the same actions and easily slipping into mindless patterns. While you’re moving around it can be helpful to break your patterns with a moment of mindfulness. When you find yourself entering a new place or leaving, take a moment to be present while opening the door.

This could be as simple as just paying attention and letting your distracted thoughts go while performing the task, or you could step back and be present for the situation surrounding that door opening. For example, if you’re approaching the door with others, take the time to open the door and hold it for others. When being present in this situation, observe the others around you and be present with them… smile at them, acknowledge them and share that moment with them.

Letting these small interruptions in your movement slow your thoughts and bring you to the present you’ll find yourself more mindful more often throughout the day.

Mindful Task – Eating

We do it at least 3 times a day, typically, so there will be an opportunity or two. You might be able to do this best by sitting down your utensil and being present while you’re chewing. Mindful Eating also has the benefit of slowing you down so you don’t overeat as well as making the food you are consuming more noticeably flavorful.

Often when being mindful, a good practice is to stop and take a breath, but in the case of eating, pay attention to what you’re eating, how it’s prepared or presented and be mindful of how it nourishing you. Also observe how it tastes after you’ve finished or as you take the first bite. You may also wish to observe where it came from, how it came to you either at a restaurant, from a grocery store or from your own gardening or scavenging.

Try to be present for your primary meals and be proud of yourself if you can make it through at least one, fully present. If you can notice your snacking and slow down for that treat then bonus points to you!

What is Mindfulness

As you start down the path of daily mindfulness it is worth discussing what “mindfulness” really means, at least in the context of this blog.

From merriam-webster.com:
Definition of MINDFULNESS
:  the quality or state of being mindful
:  the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also :  such a state of awareness

In the case of these daily topics, the goal is to be present in the moment while performing the suggested mindful activity. The expectation isn’t that you’ll be completely present and aware of task, but that you’ll start to build awareness of yourself in that context. If the activity is walking, try to still your mind, take a deep breath when you catch your mind wandering, and try to clear your mind while paying direct attention to walking.

This isn’t an easy task on Day 1, but over time you’ll be able to breathe and release your “monkey thoughts”, allowing you to be truly present in the moment

A Path Towards Mindfulness

“Mindful” is a fairly innocuous word which can be attached to self-awareness, meditation, Buddhism or other more “New Age” type topics, but it is also a simple statement of being aware of right now.

I find myself wanting to be mindful of things each day, but sometimes forgetting to define that topic in the morning, or as the day moves along I forget to return to the topic. Mindfully United, or MU is here to give that morning reminder or a place to revisit through the course of the day to give myself some perspective on my daily mindfulness objective.

Incidentally, “Mu” is also a Japanese word meaning literally “no thing” or an absence of a thing. If you can clear your mind of thought then you’re achieving that “mu” state. It’s a goal and it’s a reminder.

Consider this an introduction to “mu” and to the Mindfully United blog. Feel free to offer commentary if you have something to share. Otherwise, tune in tomorrow (always tomorrow) to see the next day’s mindful topic.

See you back here tomorrow.

Mindful Task – Walking

Any time that you’re walking today, clear your mind and try to be present in that activity.

Walking can be both difficult and simple to be mindful of, it is a great place to start in mindfulness as almost everyone will walk some every day. You’ll be doing it so often that your likely to remember to be present at least once of the times, but if you can do so EVERY time then you’re ahead of the game.

Try to keep a count of when you’re mindful and post in the comments with your results, or just write it down somewhere. The next time Walking comes up as a mindful practice you can compare. Alternatively, just be present with your walking and notice how it feels when you stop the activity. Do you feel more focused, do you feel more peaceful?

Sun Salutations

I’m trying this new approach to Yoga, rather than watching videos (which technically I still do) I’m actually taking control of the “workout” and doing it at my own pace. They just frustrate me when they tell me to breathe in, especially when they say to do it twice in a row (I’m looking at you Rodney Yee) and confuse me enough that I get all out of sync. I’m starting with a simple Sun Salutation (I’ve managed to get the whole family in on my efforts each evening so far, thats a great thing!) and then move towards holding poses longer or adding in some other more challenging moves. In the long run I’m not sure where I’ll go with it, I just found out that this is more of a Hatha Yoga thing but I think I’m probably more of an Ashtanga Vinyasa kind of guy. I did find some great posts with animations and the like but the gist of a Sun Salutation is this:

  1. Mountain Pose (?) – Standing upright.
  2. Bring arms over head – as I tell the kids while we’re doing it, “Point at the moon!”
  3. Forward bend  – “Touch your toes!”
  4. Step right foot back to a lunge – try to touch your heel to the floor, lift your head to look in front of you.
  5. Left Foot back to plank pose – “Stiff like a board!”
  6. Push Up Position – Basically we’ve just done half of a pushup.
  7. Upward dog – try to look up at the moon!
  8. Push back to downward dog – lift your butt, heels on the floor, spread your toes, soften your face (this is the bread and butter of yoga for me so far)
  9. Right foot forward to a lunge – see above.
  10. Forward Bend
  11. Up to Mountain pose.

As I lead these family yoga sessions I try to emphasize slowness right now, breathing if I think of it or I’m talking to my wife. I’ll do it a couple of times which is a decent de-stresser. I’m not sure it will have the same impact of doing 20 pushups mid-day to wake myself up currently has but I might try it. The pushup trick is great though.

Thats my little bit of fitness talk today, the real fun is in the DIY/House Projects i’m still glowing from… thats a different post.

Does a blog have a Buddha nature?

I’ve tried to start this process several times, I’ll say I’m starting again now. Part of this is just me testing the upgrade process for WordPress 2.9.1 so that I can update my wife’s blog over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. I have many ideas I need to dump and debate on using a unique new blog URL or this old favorite, for now I’ll just put thoughts here. Forgive any bumpiness as I try adding and removing and tweaking plug-ins along the way. (c: