#92.  Doing things mindfully during the day: a Zen perspective.18JAN16

“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” – Shunryu Suzuki.

Mindfulness: simply means to pay attention, moment to moment to what you are doing and where you are without having your mind elsewhere. The word is a poor translation of the Pali word “ Sati” meaning to be thoughtful to the present moment and not elsewhere.

A mindful mind is reflecting things as they are like a mirror.

Meditation is a perfect example of mindfulness practice. But, besides this formal sitting, a mindfulness attitude can be learned and achieved anytime and anywhere. Here are few tricks to practice the wonders of mindfulness during your day:

  1. Do one thing at a time. Single-task, not multi-task. When you’re eating, just eat. Trying to do zillion of things at the same time is anxiogenic.
  2. Do it slowly and deliberately. While doing one task at a time, don’t rush. Make your actions deliberate. It will help you to focus better on the task. A great sign of doing things slowly and mindfully is how silent you are when doing noisy activities.
  3. Do it completely. Don’t think on your next task until you finished the current one. If you prepare a sandwich, don’t start eating until you’ve put away the stuff you used to prepare it, wiped down the counter, and washed the dishes used for preparation. When you’re done with that task, you can focus more completely on the next one.
  4. Do less if you can. We wake up early and have a day filled with things to do. However, we don’t have an endless task list either. Don’t try to add stuff to do unless absolute necessity. If you do less, you can do those things more slowly, more completely and with more concentration. If you fill your day with tasks, you will be rushing from one thing to the next without stopping to think about what you do.
  5. Press the “Pause” button between tasks. It’s a way of managing your schedule so that you always have time to complete each task. Don’t schedule things too close to each other. Instead, leave room between things to do on your schedule and you will feel that you do control time. That gives you also a more relaxed schedule and leaves space in case one task takes longer than planned.
  6. Try to develop rituals. Ritual gives something a sense of importance and will help you pay more attention. You can create your own ritual: for eating, for what you do before you start your work, for what you do just before exercise. Anything you want, really.
  7. Designate time for certain things. This ensures that those things get done regularly. You can designate time for your own activities, whether for work or cleaning or exercise or meditation. If it’s important enough to do regularly, consider designating a time for it.
  8. Devote time and to meditation. In Zen practice, sitting meditation is an important part of the day. You can devote time for formal sitting meditation, or just paying attention to the current moment while bringing mind and body together once a while during the day.
  9. Live simply. If something isn’t necessary or critical you can probably live without it. To live simply is to get rid of as many of the unnecessary and unessential things as you can, to make room for the essential. Now, what is essential will be different to each person but you should consider what is most important to your life, and make room for that by eliminating the other less essential things.
  10. Serving others. Many of us spend part of their day to help and serve others. This is a great opportunity to be mindful to them and their needs. It ensures also that our lives are not too self-centered, but devoted to others. If you’re a parent, you have already spent a lot of time being mindful to your family members.

Thoughts to contemplate

  •  How often are you multi- tasking?  
  • How often is your mind not where your body is and do?
  •  How quickly to do you answer emails even when there is no need to rush?
  • How often do you “pause” even for 1 or 2 minutes before the next task?

    Thank you.   Ven. Ji Gong Sunim   18JAN2016.