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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goal for 2013: Mindfulness



GOOD MORNING!  If just seeing those letters in caps is giving you a headache, you might want to check out these hangover remedies.  Just when many of you were probably heading to bed after your new year revelries, Adam and I were getting up to workout.  Yeah, I know, we're a bit nuts around here.

You might say that both of us are a wee bit on the Type A, obsessive-compulsive, perfectionistic, OCD side.  I have always been very organized and task-oriented, but over the last couple of years, my ability to complete tasks has declined.  Increasingly, I have become distracted, scattered and my short-term memory is totally shot.  If I don't write everything down, it's almost instantly in one ear, and out the other.  It's become so bad that when my good friend Emily, who is a genetic counsellor specializing in dementia, was visiting last summer, I told her I thought I was losing my mind.  She told me she frequently has women, not much older than us, coming into her office, concerned that they are experiencing cognitive impairment.  She explained that most often, it is simply stress and too many distractions.  Essentially never focusing enough attention on any one thing.  I realized that this is completely ME. 

I never used to have a problem with focus.  Back in university, even with music and television in the background, and a party next door, I could sit down and write a paper, hand it in without even proof-reading it, and pull off an A.  But the world has changed a lot since then.  I didn't own a cell phone, and I didn't even use email or the Internet until 1997! 

Now, if I sit down at my computer to write something, it's unusual that I complete it without my cell phone ringing and a client booking an appointment.  I then flip from my document to my Google Calendar to put in the appointment.  Then I get a 'ping' indicating a new email, I check the email and that sends me off in a whole new direction, returning an email, doing an Internet search for some piece of information, and then, since I work at home a lot, the doorbell might ring with a package that's arrived, then the dryer buzzes, because I threw a load of laundry in, then I notice the skirt of Big A's laying on the table - that's been there for 3 weeks - with the hem needing stitching and just as I pick it up, the phone rings again, etc., etc.  What's started to happen far too often, is that I didn't actually put the appointment into my Google Calendar.  Or I did, but wrote in the wrong office location where I'm meeting my client.  While forgetting to hem a skirt is not such a big deal, screwing up client appointments is.  I decided something has got to change.  So my goal for 2013 is to master the art of mindfulness.

You've probably heard the term mindfulness before.  The definition, according to Wikipedia is:

...a spiritual or psychological faculty that is considered to be of great importance in the path to enlightenment according to the teaching of the Buddha. It is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. "Correct" or "right" mindfulness is the seventh element of the noble eightfold path. Mindfulness meditation can also be traced back to the earlier Upanishads, part of Hindu scripture.
Enlightenment is a state of being in which greed, hatred and delusion have been overcome, abandoned and are absent from the mind. Mindfulness, which, among other things, is an attentive awareness of the reality of things (especially of the present moment) is an antidote to delusion and is considered as such a 'power'. This faculty becomes a power in particular when it is coupled with clear comprehension of whatever is taking place.
The Buddha advocated that one should establish mindfulness in one's day-to-day life maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one's bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself. The practice of mindfulness supports analysis resulting in the arising of wisdom.  A key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative stabilisation must be combined with liberating discernment.
In order to reach my goal, I am enlisting some professional help.  I've registered for the Meditation for Health program, run by Dr. Lucinda Sykes.  It involves 2 one-on-one sessions, followed by a 5 week group course. 

I am actually really excited as I think learning these skills will help me - and those around me - greatly.  Not only do I hope to become more focused and organized professionally, but also more present for my children.  I am determined to get out of my head and back into my life!

What are your goals for 2013?