Slowly add mindfulness bells. A mindfulness bell can be anything in your environment. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested using traffic lights as a mindfulness bell — when you see one, instead of getting caught up in the stress of driving, allow yourself to become present. You can slowly find other mindfulness bells — your daughter’s face, opening your computer, having your first cup of coffee, hearing a train going by.
Finding ways to trigger making conscious decisions is the key to increasing the amount of time you are mindful. The possibilities are endless!
People who haven’t tried to meditate have very little sense that their minds are noisy at all. And when you tell them that they’re thinking every second of the day, it generally doesn’t mean anything to them. It certainly doesn’t strike most of them as pathological. When these people try to meditate, they have one of two reactions: Some are so restless and besieged by doubts that they can hardly attempt the exercise. “What am I doing sitting here with my eyes closed? What is the point of paying attention to the breath?” And, strangely, their resistance isn’t remotely interesting to them. They come away, after only a few minutes, thinking that the act of paying close attention to their experience is pointless.
~ Sam Harris
I don’t consider myself “very good” at meditating. Beginning in ’98, through 15 years of Aikido practice and beyond, I have spent “some” time sitting in seiza, meditating and breathing. It was only after many years that I realized how wonderful the sitting, meditation, and breathing was for me personally.
There’re approximately 10 gazillion intros and primers on meditation and breathing on the Internet, so I’m not even going to give a hand-waving explanation. I’ll just say: Yes! Do! You can mail me a Thank-you card later!
…and I suppose also: If we meet in person, strike up a conversation and I’d love to talk shop.
How, then, can we find and embrace emptiness in the sea of digital activity we swim through every day? The possibility of constant communication and information can make us allergic to absence. It’s not just that the technology is ubiquitous, invasive, and addicting. Its presence in our lives belies the deeper issue that the Wilson study touched upon: the ability to sit still with ourselves.