It is easy to go through the business of daily life without really looking at what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Over time, we tend to slip into patterns of thoughtlessness that work great for routine tasks like perhaps flipping a switch on and off, but not so well for any other task that can be done better by focusing on the details.
This sort of mindless execution of routine responsibilities makes us perform in a mediocre manner, not really fulfilling our potential and at the same time, doing an injustice to the tasks assigned to us. Using this kind of behavior to cope with a heavy workload can be fine, but whenever possible, the simple act of paying attention can cause a quantum increase in the quality of our output.
Sometimes though, even the simple act of paying attention can be difficult and I begin with a simple awareness of breath as a starting point. Being aware of our breathing patterns during different times in our day can be surprisingly insightful into our thought, behavior and emotion patterns. Watching our breathing pause and start again, observing the rhythm during different times, watching the in and out of breath when we’re angry or sad, it’s all quite connected and can be a very rewarding exercise.
And then we shift perspective from breath to emotion. When do we experience what emotion? All of us go through different levels of happiness, anger, irritation, frustration, satisfaction and more such feelings each day. What makes us experience them? Who triggered my happiness? What caused me to feel irritated? Paying more attention to our emotions will expose to us a wealth of information about how we feel and in response what sort of triggers.
And then come some outcomes like eating. When does the sight, smell or thought or food effect us the most? When does it matter the least? At times, just the thought of some foods might make us run towards a snack, while at others, it might be lying beside us and we won’t pay it any attention. What regulates this behavior? Is it because we’ve just eaten? Is it because of what we just ate? Is it based on how we’re feeling?
Making connections of all of these facets of our being will leave us in an enriched state that can only help us move forward with our lives in a mindful, productive manner.
(I wrote this as a weekly submission in a mindfulness course I’m doing)