Don’t wobble!

When you are walking, walk. When you are sitting, sit. Don’t wobble. Gautama Buddha.

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I love this quote. Especially the “don’t wobble” part. In my case, I interpret this as “don’t fidget”! But it’s really all to do with mindfulness, isn’t it? In this crazy frantic world we are so accustomed to doing things unmindfully. We cannot do just one thing at a time, nor are we able to give it our full attention. Our thoughts flit about; our senses experience the world and stimulate memories or thoughts of the future. As the wonderful spiritual teacher, Eknath Easwaran put it,

When we do things with only part of the mind, we are just skimming the surface of life. Nothing sinks in; nothing has real impact. It leads to an empty feeling inside. (from Take your Time)

I know this is definitely the case with me. HOWEVER, I’m fighting back. I don’t want to live that way any longer. It makes me feel “wired but tired”. So this morning was Day 1 of the new, mindful me.

an example of one-pointed attention

My usual morning routine goes something like this. Perhaps it will sound familiar to some of you:

I stagger a little bleary-eyed into the kitchen, with our Labrador nipping at my heels, desperate for her breakfast. As if I would forget to feed her! (Well, I did once. 😏 I wonder if dogs have memories?). I put on the kettle to boil water for tea. As it’s doing so, I’m measuring out her breakfast feed. As I do this, I notice some laundry in the dryer and open the door to check if it’s dry. Before I know it, (and the kettle has boiled by now!), I’m sorting laundry, feeding the dog, checking the weather on my mobile phone, flicking the switch on the kettle again, and putting away any dishes left on the drainer from the night before. Isn’t this exhausting, but many of us function in this way, ALL DAY! And then we wonder why we can’t relax; why we don’t find lasting enjoyment in life. Function is a good word to describe this way of living. It’s not based on enjoyment. Rather, it seems to originate from a relentless need for efficiency and good time-management!!

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Here’s how I changed things up this morning:

I lay in bed for a few extra minutes until I felt okay to begin the day. Amber the Labrador was firmly told to stay in her bed while I made her breakfast. When distracting thoughts came into my head, I brushed them aside again and again to concentrate on the task in hand. Once I had fed the dog, I made myself a cup of tea. After I had made my tea, I put on a slice of toast. I forced myself to do just one thing at a time and to fully concentrate on it. When my mind was saying to me, “Wouldn’t you like to check your fb page while you wait?” or “Why not put away some dishes or plan the menu for next week?” I said to it, as firmly as I told Amber to go to her bed, “No.”

The most difficult thing to do was to eat mindfully!

I found it very strange not to switch on the tv, or complete the crossword I had started yesterday, or put on some music, or sit and look out of the window, or watch the birds at the feeder. All of these are distraction habits. They make us “skim the surface of life” where nothing really sinks in, not even eating. And so, I sat with eyes closed and concentrated all my senses on just having breakfast. Here’s what I found:

  • the sense of touch: holding a warm mug of tea in both hands is so comforting, especially on a cold morning.
  • the sense of sight: I purposefully kept my eyes closed while eating so that I would not be distracted by things going on around me. Although I did notice that I like my tea to be a certain colour (with not too much or too little soya milk). This adds to my enjoyment of it.
  • the sense of smell: melting soya spread on wholemeal toast. What an amazing aroma! Concentrating on this really enhanced the experience.
  • the sense of hearing: I tried to block out any external noises and niggling internal thoughts and kept bringing myself back to concentrate fully on breakfast.
  • the sense of taste: I enjoyed experiencing hot and cold on the tongue, chewing slowly and mindfully. I was hyper aware of the physical process of swallowing food. This is usually automatic, but you know, when you slow down and take notice of it, the alimentary system in the body is really quite amazing and beautiful in its simple complexity.

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I hope you find some of these suggestions useful and that you manage to have less “wobbles” in your day. Why not try to have a mindful breakfast tomorrow? Let me know how you get on! Much love, Anita.😊

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