Thursday, June 02, 2022

Why I might have flunked mindfulness 101, but made up my own version.

A practice called Mindfulness is quite useful for many people. On the other hand, I sometimes think I flunked Mindfulness. Part of that practice, which admittedly I'm no expert in, has to do with focusing one's attention on what one is doing at the moment.

Often my mind tends to wander to what seems like more interesting thinking than the day to day things in my life. Working as a custodian, for many years, I spent quite a bit of time sweeping floors, vacuuming carpets and so forth. Hard to just focus on those repetitive tasks. Of course one would want their brain surgeon to be focused on the task at hand, but not all tasks are of that high an order.

I have my own definition of something that may be related to Mindfulness. That is accepting the tasks in my life as if they are legitimate and valuable. If sweeping the stairs is the task, it's worthy of my effort. It doesn't necessarily require ultimate "flow state" (another concept discussed in psychology). It doesn't necessarily require full attention.

For many of my custodial tasks, I listened to podcasts about such topics as economics, theoretical physics, travel and so forth. If I wasn't listening to the radio, or podcasts, my mind was often wandering to thinking that would sometimes end up in my writing.

Another part of accepting what my life is, has to do with my writing and photography. The effort is legitimate even if I'm not writing for a major publication; like the New York Times. Often it just goes on Facebook, but I still feel like it's worth the effort.

Like keeping my apartment at least reasonably organized, visiting with friends, writing and photography, it's worthwhile.

I try and keep up with the tasks life wants me to do. I tend to procrastinate less than some folks. Often I do find joy in what I am doing, including simple tasks.

As for flow state, it isn't always there. That would be a tall order, like we put ourselves under lots of pressure. I do find myself pretty close to flow state when I'm writing, talking with friends, dealing with my photos, organizing things and even cleaning.

I sometimes get close to flow state when I am physically active, such as bicycling or dancing. With dancing, the music makes a big difference. Not all music hits the spot for me.

I'm no pro dancer, but I do enjoy flopping around and at least moving.

My dad met well, but he often said, "pay attention to what you are doing." I had teachers that said I was a daydreamer. Most of them let me slip by anyway even though things like my spelling (back in the days before spellcheckers) was horrible.

Paying full attention is good advice if one is driving, or piloting a jet. Partially for that reason, I never learned to drive.

My article about this in The Betty Pages.

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