Deliberance

I always abhor those articles that extol various life “hacks” that preach small effort techniques delivering huge results.

So it’s with trepidation that I share this advice with you, as it carries a similar message.. but it’s by no means a shortcut. It’s more a method to refocus your perspective on everything you do, which produces the result of keeping you in a mindful state.

Think about everything you do on a daily basis. No, not the tasks, work, or the “big picture” stuff: instead, I’m talking about the little things that fill in the gaps. When you’re walking, place each foot with deliberation, when you put a carton of juice away in the fridge, slot it into it’s place mindfully, don’t just drop it into place.

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Tightrope walking is a great example to apply to deliberate activity: each step is done with careful placement and purpose: balance!

The easiest task to try this activity is with the way that I got into meditation in the first place: washing the dishes (which is now one of my favorite activities). Pick up each plate carefully, slide it into the water with care. Each careful swipe with the sponge or cloth should be deliberate and done with attention to detail, with purpose. This behavior translates into rinsing, and placing each item into the rack. At first, all this effort will feel unnatural, perhaps even mentally taxing.. But as it becomes a measured, practiced effort, you’ll fall into a rhythm. You’ll start to appreciate the feel of the hot water on your hands, the suds running off the plate, the rainbows dancing in the soap bubbles, the lemony scent of the water.. This is what it is to be present in the moment, each moment.

As you start to understand the calm that these moments hold, you’ll catch yourself applying this same behavior to other banal tasks.. Each step you take, every keyboard key you type, the notes in the music that fill your ears: every activity will anchor you in each moment as it comes and goes.

It’s important not to let this active deliberation stress you out. It should use minimal effort. If you’re doing multiple things at once, let your attention drift from one activity to the next, taking delight in each as you dwell in it.

Mindfulness is not a chore, it’s a simple process of living purposefully. Not only will this sort of mindset improve your mood, but it will also create a sense of confidence, of conscious existence in the world that surrounds you.

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Winding Up

When I talk to most people; friends and strangers alike, mornings are often a shared bone of contention  – It’s common to grumble and complain, and since it’s a common phenomenon, something to share with others in its distaste.

It’s easy to get into the habit of hiding under the covers, waiting until the last possible second before rushing through a shower, a hastily swallowed breakfast, then rushing out of the house to miss the bus or to waste more time trying to get the car started.

This process sets the tone for the whole day: arriving to work flustered, taking up to an hour to become focused. An attitude of always lagging behind that’s near inescapable. It doesn’t stop once we’re home either: often worrying about what we didn’t get done, and trying to shoehorn in as much relaxation as we can, going to bed way past our bedtime, or unable to sleep due to an inability to put our phones down.

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What if you could recapture your day, frame it in a positive light? Wind it up at your own pace?

There’s only so many hours of daylight, but chances are you are not using them all to the fullest. Waking up earlier gives you the flexibility and room to enjoy your morning. Get up, stretch for half an hour while you make a nice pot of tea or coffee. Sit on your mat and meditate, or in the rocking chair on the porch, hugging the mug in your hands and watching the sun rise.. A relaxed cadence sets your pace where instead of being behind, you’re ahead of your schedule, getting the chores, work, and tasks you need to on your own time.

Try just going to bed 10 minutes earlier, and waking up 10 earlier than you normally do. Then every week, wind it back another 10. 3 months from now you will have reclaimed 2 full hours of the day. It will take a few weeks not only to add sufficient time to your day to reap the rewards, but also to experiment with what sort of things you want to add to your new morning routine. Enjoy the process and set an unhurried pace.  What’s equally appealing about this process is that you’ll end up in bed much earlier, but you’ll find it much easier to wind down in the evenings after work – your quality of life will be better, you’ll leave more stress behind, and it will leave you relaxed.

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

I’m driving to see a client this morning, and I’m bubbling along happily in the right hand lane. Around me are other commuters, drivers – all of us travelers, but most are rushing around me, impatient to get to their destinations.

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I can’t assume, but I can only guess they are all running late, or otherwise just eager to be somewhere else than they already were.  Completely oblivious that their current presence in the now is inescapable – another great comparison to how many of us lead our lives. But this post isn’t just about the analogy to slow down and enjoy your life. I could wax philosophical about enjoying the cool breeze from your open window, the panoramic view of the clouds, the sun peeking out from behind a skyscraper..

But I’d rather be far more direct, simple, for you see, this post is one of those extremely rare ones where I’m urging you to do the bare minimum.

Go the speed limit. Do not exceed it. If you need to make it easier on yourself, or you have a lead foot, use cruise control (for most cars the minimum for this is 60kph). As you drive, pay attention to your breath, to the periphery of your vision – live in this space.

Listen to music if you wish, but my caveat here is that you must dance, sing along, and bounce to the beat. Enjoy your life, enjoy the now – it’s the only one you have.

As a caveat, I will admit I do enjoy driving in sports cars, even as a passenger, and I would be a hypocrite to say that it isn’t fun to drive a little fast (keep it safe folks!). But in those situations, driving is part of the experience – a Sunday ride on my motorcycle through a set of the local twisties or taking the top down on the convertible for a weekend away in wine country is completely acceptable and understandable. Here, the car and the company is integral to many as part in parcel with the destination – just be wary not to make it a habit in daily life.