Mindfulness 101

Watch that step

The area of decision making is a constant process in our lives and one of the best decisions we can make is to practice being mindful. What do I mean?

I had a friend just the other day here in San Miguel step out in front of a bus slowly making a turn. She was knocked down, but fortunately just got bruised.  She said, ” I just wasn’t present, daydreaming or whatever. What a close call!”

Then I was in Mexico City a few days later and handed the cab driver a 200 peso bill. He gave me back change and folded inside of the change were a couple of old bills that were worthless.  Instead of looking at my change I just stuck it in my pocket, only to discover the ruse a short while later.

Then there are the misplaced keys and glasses that I personally have spent cumulatively too much time looking for  to want to admit.

So, what’s the answer?

*Get used to telling yourself that it is time to be mindful. In other words when you enter a situation such as walking, paying or receiving money,  putting down things you use regularly and need (car keys etc.) tell yourself that it is time to pay attention and focus.   When I lived in Japan, no Japanese person thought any foreigner could speak their language. As a result even if you could speak Japanese it would fall on deaf ears, only because they were not prepared to hear it. I feel we need to do the same thing with ourselves. It is the habit of giving yourself the cue that is so important.  Then for those particular areas of life where the patterns are frustrating become proactive. For example:

*Prepare a list of things that if you lose will cause you a great deal of consternation. For example if you lose your wallet or purse with driver’s license, credit cards, health cards, etc. have these items photographed and stored on your e-mail or on a server where they are easily accessible. Your credit card is usually not a problem as it is insured above $50 and you can get a new one sent to you quite quickly.

*Develop rituals around where you leave keys, wallets, glasses, and important papers or things you require for the next day. I have found that a little key hook on the wall works great. I make it a point to store all keys there.

I have found that there is a bit of confusion around the idea of being present. For example if you are day dreaming you could be said to not be present. But that is frequently a very useful exercise. For me the idea of not being present is to emotionally be living in the future or the past. That is when you project how good you believe you will feel when some  event in the future happens in your mind. Or conversely when you spend time reminiscing  in the past recalling how wonderful something was. What happens is that those mind sets rob you of the experience of the present. So being mindful is being aware of where you truly want to be.

I believe you have to set the intention to be mindful  and then check in with yourself regularly as to whether you indeed are being this way. It is a conscious decision you are making as if regularly monitoring your own internal instrument panel. Then of course there is always the annual Darwin Awards to celebrate the most mindless ways to die.

I would like to hear your tips for mindfulness.

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