Mindfulness in progress. Am I nuts?

A few weeks ago, I let the Twitter world know that I was going to give this idea of "mindfulness" a shot as I struggled with racing thoughts, and an inability to focus.  I tweeted that my mind went crazy while just trying to meditate silently for two minutes.   I couldn't overcome thinking that my Sonicare toothbrush runs for two minutes, and that seems like forever so my two-minute meditation timer must not have been working.  Honestly, I kept going in circles and coming back to my toothbrush.  After what seemed like twenty minutes, I put up the white flag.    I had been trying for a grand total of one minute and 37 seconds.   Sad, right?  But that brief post was a gamechanger.   My great community of friends on Twitter gave me some solid nuggets of wisdom, with the top piece of advice being to try guided meditations rather than silent meditation.

Enter "Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World," by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. 

This book has been a Godsend in the first couple of weeks of ownership, even for a busy scattered mind such as mine.  The books walks through eight weeks of straightforward and guided meditations to help strengthen the minds ability to focus and recognize thoughts as just that.....thoughts, rather than reality.    Each week of the eight-week plan comes with guided meditations.   The book contains a web address to visit so that you can download and run the guided meditations of increasing and differing time and focus.   

I have decided to read the book each night, plowing ahead of the timeline but with the intention of coming back to re-read each week prior to starting the exercises for that week.    I'm not sure if that is the best way, but I think it is for me....I can't stand the thought of a book on the nightstand waiting to be read.    

Week one proposed a simple, yet profound experiment called the "Raisin Meditation."  It encourages the reader to mindfully eat a raisin.  Crazy right?    It suggests taking a couple of minutes to hold the raisin, feel the texture and look at the shape and colors.   Smell the raisin before putting it into your mouth and rolling it around to feel and taste it mindfully....paying attention to the intricate taste and feel.   

I am not a raisin guy, and decided I shouldn't invest in Raisins just for the sake of eating one mindfully.  I took a leap of faith and decided to mindfully eat an almond.    In hopes of saving you some embarrassment, I would suggest doing this at home.  Nothing like sitting in Starbucks or at the break table at work and smelling your almond before taking a minute to roll it around on your tongue.   I am betting that you would get some strange glances, at the very least.  As silly as I felt in doing, it was really an eye-opener.

The picture above is a picture of the actual Almond that I ate "mindfully."  (Warning: several almonds were in fact injured during the process of mindfully eating one.)   I dare say I have eaten hundreds, if not thousands, of almonds over the course of my life.  In fact, I usually toss a few in my mouth at once and find myself wondering how I had eaten so many in a short period of time.  But this time, I took a minute to hold it, to look closely at it.   Take a look at the picture above.    I knew the shape of almonds, I knew the grooves in almonds...but at the same time I never took a moment to "see" them.    Just looking at the picture captures that essence.    I then smelled the almond.   Granted, there isn't much smell to an almond but there is a quaint nutty smell that I had not ever noticed before.   Finally, I threw the single almond into my mouth and let it sit on my tongue.  I noticed the saltiness.  I noticed a sensation of dustiness where it had been packaged.   I felt the shape and rought texture.  I noticed the crunchiness as I began to chew.   Does it sound silly?  It feels silly to type it.  But truth be told, it was a real eye-opener for me.   If I have eaten thousands of almonds over my life and missed out on all these unique experiences...what else have I missed out on simply by failing to be present?  How much time have I wasted worrying about tomorrow or remembering yesterday while failing to feel, see, smell, taste and enjoy what was with me at the moment?    I felt excited in one breath at a new way of experiencing the world....and I felt a tinge of guilt or sadness at the thought of what I had missed out on.   But you know what....those very thoughts--what lies ahead and what I missed in the past--are the same false thoughts that have kept me from the here and now.   

 I have a strong sense that I have a long road ahead of me in terms of mindful and present, but I think I am on to something with "Mindfulness."   Between the guidance provided in print, and the support offered by way of the online guided meditations, I am already further ahead than I have been in the past after only one week of concerted effort.      I challenge you all to find something, an almond, raisin, or donut....anything really... and eat it mindfully, paying careful attention to the delight it brings you.    

Drop a note if you have experience with mindfulness or meditation that might offer others some insight or hope.    I'll be sure to write again in the future as the weeks get more involved to let you know how I am doing.    Thanks for taking a minute to read my post.


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