HNYTYAY – 3 words for 2019

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

If you haven’t worked out what the acronym is, it is “Happy New Year to You and Yours”. At this time of year, with the holiday period over and many people returning to work, it is a kind way, plus an interesting way, to wish someone a good year to come.

At this time of year, many people think of New Year’s resolutions:- losing weight; giving up smoking; stopping drinking; giving up meat; starting an exercise regime; learning a new language; starting a sport; travelling to new places; getting a new job; getting a new qualification; you name it. There are even lists of the more extreme and unusual resolutions, just try googling “unusual new year’s resolutions” to see some strange ones.

If you look at the list above, every activity is something physical. Now, take a moment and check out what was on your own New Year’s resolution list (if you have one that is)? I bet everything you have thought of or are putting in place are physical activities. Now, there is nothing wrong with physical activity, as you can track, measure and often see the results.  

How about something more thought-provoking? Something within yourself?

What I have been practising for a number of years, was something that I was introduced to by a blogger and marketer, Chris Brogan. If you would like to check out Chris’s 3 words for 2019, check out his latest blog:-

https://chrisbrogan.com/3words2019/

I have been following him since 2008 and have been trying, sometimes successfully, and sometimes not, practice the “3-word model” as a way to focus my activities, thoughts and outcomes for a year. As Chris calls it, these are “… lighthouses. Should I say yes to this project? Well, does this align with my three words?”

Too often we get caught up in the complexity of life, rather than the simplicity that a word or a series of words can bring to your daily activities and world in general. These words are memory triggers, something that you will be able to remember quickly once you have chosen them. Some of the guidelines that I have followed include:

  • Use a single word. Don’t make it a phrase. You won’t remember it and a single word is far more powerful.
  • Stick with the 3 words all year. Consistency is key to making this memory trigger work. I write them in front of the new notebook that I start at the beginning of the year. Yes, a new notebook for the start of the year. It gives me a fresh start feeling.
  • The word should be something that is actionable, rather than just trite (hackneyed and meaning nothing).
  • The words should have meaning to you personally and not something you think other people would expect from you.

So what are my 3 words for this year?

They are, in no particular order:- Zoom, Pausing, Touch

For me, “Zoom” means zooming in to focus on a particular task, something that mindfulness gives you the ability to do. It also gives you the ability to zoom out and gain a broader perspective.

Secondly, “Pausing” means taking the time to pause, to reflect, not to jump into conversations, arguments or issues quickly. I have a phrase that I try to follow “Pause, Reflect, Act” and this lends itself to this. It is a doing word, so continues the theme of movement from zoom.

Finally, “Touch”. Take the time to touch the world and not just gloss over it, rushing from one moment to the next. Take the time to connect to nature and the world around me.

Before the world picks up speed as we return to non-holidays, why not take a moment to sit and think about the 3 words that hold meaning for you this year. Why not share them?

I leave you with the following quote which made me smile.  

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo Buscaglia

Doing verse Being

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch

Our lives are ordered by the things that we do. The activities that we undertake and the results or outcomes that are achieved.

We have developed our learning and development programs for children to reflect this. Kindergarten is a place of play and happiness, being in those moments of play and companionship. This changes as children start the education journey. Tasks, activities, and results start to appear from year one and by the time children enter secondary school education; they are completely focused on the doing tasks of goal achievement, SATs, exams, graduation, etc.

As adults, we are driven by the need to achieve; to get that result; or goal in front of us. Work-related; relationship related; lifestyle or even socially. Everything around us seems to be focused on “Doing” rather than on “Being”.

So what is the difference?

Doing – the act of making something happen through your own action. doings: things that someone does: things that happen

Being – the state or fact of existing or living; existence or life. fundamental or essential nature

There is nothing wrong with “Doing”, after all, we spend most of our lives in “Doing mode”.

However, take a few moments to read the following list and see what it does mean in the context of why it is important to be more aware of “Being mode”?

  • Do you find it difficult to stay focused on what is happening in the present moment? Does your mind wander off? Do you get distracted?
  • Do you tend to walk quickly to get to where you are going without paying attention to what you are experiencing along the way?
  • Do you get to the destination without realising or remembering how you got there? Often, it is when you drive a car and you get to your destination and do not remember the journey.
  • Does it seem as if you are “running on automatic”, without much awareness of what you are doing?
  • Does it seem as if the day has flown past and you can not remember what you have done?
  • Do you rush through activities without being really attentive to them?
  • Do you get so focused on the goal you want to achieve that you lose touch with what you are doing right not to get there?
  • Do you find yourself preoccupied with the future or the past?

So what is the “Being” mode?

The full richness of the mode of “being” is not easily conveyed in words—its is best appreciated directly, experientially and personally. In many ways, it is the opposite of the driven–doing mode and if often unique to each individual. The “Being” mode is not devoted to achieving particular goals. In this mode, there is no need to constantly to monitor and evaluate (“How am I doing in meeting my goals?”).

Instead, the focus of the “Being” mode is “Accepting” and “Allowing” what is, without any immediate pressure to change it.

Simply put, it is trying to live by the adage “living in the flow” or “live moment to moment”, whilst at the same time taking the time to recognise and observe that you are. Imagine as it were you are in an activity – say reading an e:mail. Instead of just reading the e:mail and responding to it; take a moment, just a moment; to reflect on the e:mail, the context of the message and the person who sent it. Chances are you will respond differently to the message than if you just read and responded. This is the “Accepting” element.

“Allowing” arises naturally when there is no goal to be reached, and no need to evaluate where you are in trying to achieve the goal. This also means that attention is no longer focused narrowly on only those aspects of the present that are directly related to goal achievement; in “Being” mode, the experience of the moment can be processed in its full depth, width, and richness.

What can help you develop a “Being” mode of thought?

Yoga can help. So too can meditation. For me, I use Mindfulness; being consciously aware and trying to be present. The various practices within Mindfulness are easily adaptable for everyone. Whether it is mindful walking; a body scan; befriending or the simple 3 minute breath exercise; there is a practice there that can help.

Go on give one a try and let me know how you get on. For reference to the various practices you can try, go to the following website for some free examples:

https://laww.silvercloudhealth.com/mindfulness/

I leave you with the following quote.

“Do not let the memories of your past limit the potential of your future. There are no limits to what you can achieve on your journey through life, except in your mind.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

In the Beginning there was….

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle

In the beginning, there was…..

A raisin.

“A what? What on earth are you going on about?”

Let me explain and it will all become clear.

One of the first; possibly the most basic of all mindfulness practices, is called the Raisin Practice. It is the first practice in the eight-week mindfulness programme written by Doctor Mark Williams that I completed a few years ago (a link to the book and programme is at the end of this blog post if you want to find out more). You can use a raisin, or you can use some chocolate – though that tends to get very sticky and messy as you have to hold the chocolate for a while! It is a fantastic and simple way for people to be introduced to the world of mindfulness.

So what is the practice and how can you do it yourself or with others? The Raisin Practice is a mindfulness exercise that requires you to focus your mind on the present moment using all your senses – what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. The idea is that by focusing all your attention on the raisin, you help to bring your mind into the moment and train it to notice the present.

A favorite of children’s lunch boxes, handing these out and using them with adults in a mindfulness practice can sometimes come as a bit of a surprise. The technique may sound simple, but being still and present can be hard, especially with such a small thing as a raisin.

I am going to be holding an introductory session on Mindfulness; being held via video skype; to a group of work colleagues. I will be using the Raisin practice as the basis for the session. So how on earth am I going to do the exercise?

I plan to have a colleague hand out the raisins and then follow the steps below:

How do you practice the Raisin meditation? Before you begin, find a quiet spot where you can sit down and relax. You might find taking a few deep breaths will help you loosen the body and bring your mind to the practise. Once you’re ready, pick up the raisin and hold it in your hand. The next steps follow your senses.

1. Look at the raisin. Really concentrate. Let your eyes roam over the raison and pick out all the details– the colour, areas of light and shade, any ridges or shine from the crystalised sugars of the fruit. Before moving onto the next step, close your eyes, as this can heighten your other senses and help you focus.

2. Touch the raisin. With your eyes closed, place the raison into the palm of your hand. With your fingers explore the raisin’s texture. Is the skin waxy? Are there any edges? Is it sharp? It is soft or hard? Does it feel bigger that what you saw? Sometimes it can feel bigger.

3. Smell the raisin. Bring it close to your nose (don’t stick it up there!) and breath deeply. Concentrate on any scents and fragrances you can detect. Does the raisin smell sweet? Or perhaps earthy? Has this triggered your taste buds, saliva in your mouth or made your tummy grumble? Do you notice any other smells?

4. Taste the raisin. With your eyes still closed, place the raisin into your mouth. Notice how your hand instinctively knows where to go. Don’t chew yet, just spend some time concentrating on how the raisin feels on your tongue. Turn it over in your mouth and feel it’s texture on the roof of your mouth.Take a single bite into the fruit. Don’t swallow it yet. Focus your mind on the sensations just released into your mouth. How does it taste? How does this develop as the moments pass? How has the raisin changed? Do the smaller pieces of fruit feel different? Can you taste sweetness? Caramel? Any bitterness?

 

5. Finally, hear the sounds you make as you chew the raisin. You might hear the crunch of sugars; the motions of your jaws; the movement of your tongue as it helps you to maneuver the chewed raison and finally swallow it. Do you feel the remains of the raisin as it starts to travel down your throat?

Now take a moment to notice how your whole body feels. The calmness. The stillness of the moment.

When you are ready, start to awaken your mind. You might want to move gently, slowly open your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

With the meditation exercise now complete, you can carry on with your day. You will notice though a deeper insight into the day.

As mentioned at the start of the post, the link to the Book, “Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” is below. I have recommended this book to numerous people and they have found it of benefit, by following the audio guided eight week mindfulness programme. Check it out at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-practical-guide-finding-frantic/dp/074995308X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Finally, as always, I leave you with the following quote.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

…. Namaste ….

Do you have just 3 minutes spare today?

“I don’t suffer from my insanity — I enjoy every minute of it.” ― Sherrilyn KenyonDance with the Devil

It has been a little while since I posted something. Work has been absolutely manic with a major change programme in full spate. Add to that the week’s holiday at the end of October, and it feels as if I have skipped the end of the summer and have landed with both feet in the middle of winter; looking around thinking where did that month go?

Anyway, I have been continuing to practice mindfulness, even in the midst of the pressure and work. With everyone rushing about, trying to deliver against deadlines, it has been difficult and at times; I have had to take only a few minutes during the day to be present.

Even 3 minutes, yes, 3 minutes are enough to bring yourself back to the present moment.  And this is where the three-minute meditation came into its own. I have practised this in the office and even first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, whilst in the car driving – through stopped in a traffic jam I might add.

So what is the exercise?

The Three-minute Breathing Space meditation

Step 1: Becoming aware

  • Deliberately adopt an erect and dignified posture, whether sitting or standing. If possible, close your eyes. Then, bring your awareness to your inner experience and acknowledge it, asking: what is my experience right now?
  • What thoughts are going through the mind? As best you can, acknowledge thoughts as mental events. Don’t judge them. Just see them as thoughts.
  • What feelings are here? Turn towards any sense of discomfort or unpleasant feelings, acknowledging them without trying to make them different from how you find them.
  • What body sensations are here right now? Perhaps quickly scan the body to pick up any sensations of tightness or stiffness, acknowledging the sensations, but, once again, not trying to change them in any way.

Step 2: Gathering and focusing attention

  • Now, redirect the attention to a narrow ‘spotlight’ on the physical sensations of the breath, move in close to the physical sensations of the breath in the abdomen . . . expanding as the breath comes in . . . and falling back as the breath goes out.
  • Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out. Use each breath as an opportunity to anchor yourself into the present. And if the mind wanders, gently escort the attention back to the breath.

Step 3: Expanding attention

  • Now, expand the field of awareness around the breathing so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, maybe even your facial expression or how you are sitting as if the whole body was breathing.
  • Aware of the whole body, moment by moment.

And that is that as they say.

 

 

So go on. Give it a  try. What have you got to lose in that busy; hectic; full on the day ahead of you. 3 minutes is all it takes.

I leave you with the following quote:

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu

This is the Now

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.  If you are anxious you are living in the future.  If you are at peace you are living in the present.”  ― Lao Tzu

We spend so much of our lives living inside our own heads, it’s a wonder we ever have the time to see what is going around us. We have a constant narrative of thought going on. It is like the background noise of a radio or TV; often not noticed, but always there.

Do you realise that we humans, it seems, have anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. But according to some research, as many as 98 percent of them are exactly the same as we had the day before. Talk about creatures of habit! Even more significantly, over 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. That means that every day we are self-criticizing ourselves with over 56,000 thoughts. With that level of negative bias, it’s no wonder so many people suffer from anxiety and even depression.

Why is so much of our self-talk, negative?

If you think back to our pre-history as hunter-gatherers, we spent most of our time hunting or being hunted. Our flight or fight responses were tuned into everything going on around us.

“Is that a tiger I see before me, or just a leafy shadow in the bushes ahead?”

The default thought patterns were centred on how to keep us alive. In effect, making us be cautious about every situation we came across. We used our memories to record and reflect on previous encounters and to use those to help us keep out of danger.

“Yes, it is a tiger and I believe it was a tiger I saw yesterday. Therefore, keep out of the way”

This would be the instinctive reaction, eve if 9 times out of 10, it was just a shadow and not a tiger.

Leap forward and that base level instinct and mode of thought has not changed one jot. However, it is not the tiger in the shadows that makes us worry; rather it is life going on around us.

What appears to happen, is that we have continued to develop a narrative mode of thought. This is where we think about the future, based on circumstances; events; and key obstacles of the past. We constantly think about what may happen in the future, often thinking about future obstacles and how to overcome them based on prior experiences. This is not necessarily negative. In fact, it can be very helpful as we navigate this complex world around us. However, when we do overcome them, or go around them, or avoid them, we still have other obstacles that pop up. It is akin to a life long hurdle race.  

If we are in a negative mode of thought, we think about how difficult those obstacles are and how impossible it is to overcome them. We go round and round, and as mentioned at the start, we churn over our thoughts; day by day; returning to previous negative thoughts. By doing this, we artificially amplify them; making them bigger and more impossible to solve.

So how do you stop the negative thought spiral?

Stop. Just stop. Stop and pay attention to the now. Now, I know you are going to say, how on earth do you do that?

A simple exercise you can try is as – just for a moment, listen to your breath. Or notice what you are looking at. Or the smells in the air.

For example; If you have a shower; when you are standing under the water, close your eyes and feel the water on your skin. Open your eyes and when you open the bottle of shower wash, smell the aroma and scent. Mine is eucalyptus and grapefruit of all things. If you are cleaning your teeth, concentrate on the brushing motion against your teeth and gums.

And when those negative thoughts start to come around again as they will; the first step is to recognise the thoughts as negative. The second is to acknowledge that, like all thoughts, these will come and go. Moment by moment.

I was sitting on the bed this morning and a whole suite of negative thoughts starting going around in my head. It made me feel uncomfortable. I could feel my heart rate begin to increase. However, what made the difference was I realised that these were negative thoughts. Just thoughts. They did not reflect the reality of the moment, sitting on the bed. Thoughts of the past, that you can not change. Thoughts of the future, yet to come.

In effect, I was present in the now.

The TEDx youTube video that inspired this blog post, by Daron Larson, can be found here. It is well worth the 12 minutes to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze6t34_p-84
I leave you with the following quote.

“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.” –  Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Mindfulness at work – how to practice?

 

“If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Essays, Letters and Miscellanies

Earlier this week, I took part in an event for World Mental Health day, where we hosted over 385 people on two webinars to talk about Mindfulness. It was great to talk about what mindfulness is all about, but the biggest part of the discussion and questions from people was how you can practice mindfulness at work.

How do you practice Mindfulness at work? Does your work environment encourage you to practice? I was given the opportunity to describe how I practice.

Think about being present and not just on auto-pilot

  • Make a clear decision at the start of your workday to be present as best you can. Pause for a few moments before you start your work day to set this intention in your mind.
  • Focus your attention on the people and the discussions you have. Don’t just nod and agree. Really try to listen.
  • Don’t skim read emails, articles, and documents. I read from the bottom of emails back to the top to make sure I focus on the content.
  • In meetings, don’t do your emails at the same time.

Use Short Mindful Exercises at Work. I use the Three-minute Breathing Space meditation during the day, normally at lunchtime. 

Use short breathing exercises before or after meetings; telephone conversations or when you feel stressful

  • The exercise we shared this week was the 4,7,8 exercise. You place the tip of your tongue against the back of your top teeth. Breath in at your normal pace for the count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat this at least three times and you will feel less stressful and more relaxed.

Use Mindful Reminders

  • Use some form of reminder to be mindful to take you out of auto-pilot mode. I use a reminder in my Outlook diary and set an appointment every day.Mine is set for 12:30 every day. It just gives me a little nudge, “have you been mindful so far today?”. Perhaps place a picture on your desk to remind you to be mindful. I have a mindful workplace mat that I glance at during the day.

Be a Single-Tasker

  • Single-tasking is doing one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is trying to do two or more tasks at the same time or switching back and forth between tasks. Nobody can actually multi-task. In reality, your brain is madly switching from one thing to the next, often losing data in the process.
  • Group tasks in categories. For example, put together emails, phone calls, errands, and meetings. Then you can do them all together in one block of time rather than switching from emails to calls to running an errand.
  • Switch off as many distractions as you can. Silence your phone, log off from your email account, and so on. Then set a timer for the amount of time you need to work, and record how much you get done. Do what works for you to focus on one task for a fixed period of time.

Pay Attention to the Small Stuff

  • When you are working, focus on the immediate task and the single element in front of you. Don’t worry about all the other tasks around you. Being present on.

“Pause, Reflect, Act” rather than “Fire and forget” on emails

  • We live such a reactive hectic work live that we have a tendency to “fire and forget”. When that email comes in from a colleague asking for help; raising an issue; complaining; or whatever, we have this insane habit of reacting immediately to the email. Get it done and out of the way. I see it all the time. People do not take the time to either read the email or to fully understand the context. You can end up in an email war of words. Instead, “Pause, Reflect and then Act” before responding. Take time. Even 24 hours before responding. I will even pen a response but hold it in my “draft items” for up to 24 hours before responding. It tends to take the heat out and you can more calmly review what you are writing.

Feel and Share Gratitude

  • Humans have a “negativity bias.” Essentially, this means that you’re much more likely to focus and dwell on something that’s gone wrong than on things that have gone well. Behaving in this way every day means that you ultimately adopt an excessively negative and unbalanced way of thinking.
  • Gratitude is the antidote. Plenty of evidence suggests that actively practicing gratitude makes you feel better and has a positive impact on your creativity, health, working relationships, and quality of work. Express gratitude to those around you, even if they do not respond. It is amazing how much a simple thank you and smile impacts others.

Cultivate Humility

  • Value other people’s opinions: If someone makes a point that challenges yours, suspend judgment. You can easily jump in and argue—but that implies that they’re wrong and you’re right. How can you be so sure? Stop and consider in what ways they may be right, too. This is true mindfulness in action—non-judgemental awareness together with curiosity and respect.
  • Show appreciation: When someone helps you out, in whatever way, show appreciation. Say thank you and really mean it.
  • Consider who has helped you right now: Spend a few minutes thinking about the number of people who have helped you at work today.
  • Humble people have a quiet confidence about themselves and don’t feel the need to continuously remind others of their achievements. Humility is attractive—no one enjoys being around those who continually sing their own praises, and most people enjoy the company of those who are willing to listen to them rather than talk about themselves all the time.

Finally, Make a Habit of It

  • For mindfulness to work at work, it helps to have both a formal practice of mindfulness – such as the 3-minute breathing space meditation as well as informal practices that you can do during the day. What is more important, though it to practice some of the elements I have mentioned every day. A little and often is far better than one practice, one day every month.

 

I would love to hear from you on how you practice Mindfulness at work. Do share your thoughts, practices, tips and advice.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” ― Studs Terkel

An introduction to Walking Meditation

 

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead. Walk beside me… just be my friend”  ― Albert Camus

What do you think about when you go for a walk?

What an odd question to ask. But, hang on a moment. What do you really think about when you go for a walk? If you are like me, you decide to go for a walk for the exercise; to walk the dogs (we have two); to be with friends or family on a day out, or perhaps to visit and see something new. You don’t go on a walk to think? Or do you?

I also use walking as a time to reflect on the life events going on around me. Work; the social activities; or even family and friends. But more than that, I also use it as an opportunity to be present.

What is the third approach (after exercise and reflective thinking)?

The walking meditation is one of the key elements of the MBSR – Mindfulness Stress Reduction Programme. Central to it is being present; being aware of the act of walking. You normally don’t think about where you are walking; where you are placing your feet; how you are placing your feet; how it feels to be walking and the affect on your body. This is the basis for the exercise.

So how do you do a Walking Meditation?

  • Find a location. Find a place that allows you to walk back and forth for 10 to 15 paces. A place that is peaceful, where you won’t be disturbed or even observed. A slow, formal walking meditation can look strange to people who are unfamiliar with it!. You can practice walking meditation either indoors or outside. I prefer to be outside, but the choice is entirely yours.
  • Plan your walk. Start walking the steps along the place you’ve chosen, and then pause and breathe for as long as you like. When you’re ready, turn and walk back in the opposite direction, where you can pause and breathe again. Then, when you’re ready, Turn once more and continue with the walk. What is critical is to focus on the component elements of each step you take.
  • The component elements of each step. Walking meditation involves very deliberating thinking about and doing a series of actions that you normally do automatically. Breaking the steps down in your mind may feel awkward, even ridiculous. But you should try to notice at least these four basic components of each step. These are:

    a) the lifting of one foot;
    b) the moving of the foot a bit forward of where you’re standing;
    c) the placing of the foot on the floor, heal first;
    d) the shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward leg as the back heel lifts, while the toes of that foot remain touching the floor or the ground. Then the cycle continues, as you:

   a) lift your back foot totally off the ground;
   b) observe the back foot as it swings forward and lowers;
   c) observe the back foot as it makes contact with the ground, heel first;
  d) feel the weight shift onto that foot as the body moves forward.

  You are focusing on the physical act of walking. Something we have not thought of          since we learned to walk all those years ago.

  • What do you do with your hands and arms? Whatever feels most comfortable and natural to you. It is not an exercise in holding your arms or hands in an unnatural position.
  • Walking speed? You can walk at any speed, but the idea behind a walking meditation is that it is slow and involves taking measured small steps. That is why most people perform the exercise somewhere quiet, as seeing people walking slowly makes people uncomfortable. The most important thing for you is that it feels natural, not exaggerated or stiff.
  • You will find you focus on something. As you walk, try to focus your attention on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted. Perhaps the weight of your arms. I noticed when I did the exercise that my arms were different weights. Why? I was wearing a heavy man’s watch on my right wrist. I had never noticed this before. Perhaps your breath as you walk; the way your arms move; the sounds around you or looking more closely at sights around you, I noticed individual pebbles  when I did the practice on a path. The glitter and sparkle of each stone.
  • Finally, that damn wandering mind! No matter how much you try to fix your attention on any of these sensations, your mind will wander. Guaranteed.  When you notice your mind wandering, don’t give up of get angry, but simply try again to focus it one of those sensations. You will find that will a little practice, you will be able to be more present when you walk and notice more.

I went for a brief walk today with some colleagues and as I walked along I noticed that there a nail on the path. I picked it up and threw it in a bin. Was I more observant than everyone else? Or was it due to the walking practices?

I leave you with the following quote, from one of my favorite books and films of all times.

 

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland