Lately I've been thinking a lot about being more aware in the present moment. This has been something I've been trying to incorporate into my life for the last 5 or 6 years, with what feels like frustratingly little success. After reading most of the books out there on the subject, I feel like I know why I need to try it, but now it's just a matter of practicing. I picked up How to Train a Wild Elephant by Dr. Jan Chozen Bays, a guided mindfulness exercise book, a couple of months ago, but have barely made it past the introduction with all of the changes going on in my life lately.
Skip to today: I've found myself in a new spot, new 'hood, and no one to take care of but myself: perfect time to finally start this endeavour! My original idea was to blog about each week's mindfulness exercise (the book gives 52 exercises, enough for a yearlong experiment) in hopes that someone else might benefit from the suggestions, too.
I contacted Dr. Bays and she was more than supportive about the idea: "You are very welcome to describe the exercises, try them out, and then blog about your discoveries. I hope it will encourage others to try them, too."
If you're not familiar with the concept of mindfulness, it's basically learning to steer your mind back toward this present moment. In general, we tend to reflect (sometimes obsessively) on the past, or alternatively we may reach toward the future and waste our energy trying to control what is going to happen. So, we miss out on actually living our lives because our mind is always somewhere else. The premise is that if we can weave small aspects of mindfulness into the fabric of our daily lives, we can slowly build habits that will lead us to a fuller life.
With that said, I'm ready to attempt Week 1's exercise: "Use your nondominant hand." Here is the description from the book: "Use your nondominant hand for some ordinary tasks each day. These could include brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or eating … If you're up for a big challenge, try using the nondominant hand for writing or when eating with chopsticks."
I'll be back in a week with an update of how this went – I'm currently trying to figure out what method I'm going to use to remind myself to do this …