I went to a workshop about Mindfulness and how it may help you to focus yesterday. The first thing I should say is that, although I’d heard of Mindfulness before, I didn’t really know what it was. The second thing I should say is that I always think I am really bad at any form of meditation, and I almost always try to do several things at once. And it drives me mad.
Why do it if it drives me mad? Well, I get fed up with waiting for computers to load up to do what they have to do (patience is not one of my virtues) so I start doing other things, and, of course, once I’ve started, I can’t stop. It’s about focus, though, isn’t it? I was always brought up to do one thing at a time, and have only learned this so-called multi-tasking as I’ve got older. Mostly, I am a pretty focussed person, but I can get sidetracked when things delay me, and then I start on something else. By the end of the day, I find I have started on six things and finished none and I hate it. I keep trying to pull myself back. I like completion, the feeling I get when a job has been well done.
So I was intrigued when the FEU offered a course called “Improved Focus through Mindfulness.” By the FEU is the Federation of Entertainment Unions, I get access to its courses and its website through my membership of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. It’s great because they offer a lot of free courses for a very reasonable monthly union membership fee, and I’m always up for something free, so…
Our tutor today was Muriel McClymont, who is an NLP practitioner. I am fascinated by NLP and becoming a practitioner is on my to-do list, so that was a good start for me. Muriel explained that mindfulness comes from the Buddhist philosophy of living in the moment. I know, as I suspect most of us do, that living in the moment is really what we should be aiming for, at least some of the time, but how often do I do it? Not very often, is the answer. I am always thinking about what I should be doing next, and I think I am probably not alone in this. So it was a real culture shock for someone to suggest to me that I should sit/stand and think before I acted. Moreover, that I should enjoy the sensation of what I was doing in that moment, even if it was just washing the dishes. Hmm….
We started with a bit of background and theory then a short guided meditation, just focussing on the now. I managed that without falling asleep and without causing any kind of mayhem, so that was a result. I usually find meditation an excuse for sleep. A bit more discussion and then a further meditation – this one lead on to mindful eating. Muriel had brought along chocolate, raisins, melon and grapes, the chocolate broken into individual square, the melon chopped up, and the grapes were, well, grapes.
As soon as we started this meditation, I could smell the chocolate quite strongly but I chose melon to eat. No, I wasn’t being noble, but I just know that eating chocolate right now is going to hurt, and the game isn’t worth the candle, so… Muriel then talked us through a process that involved observing our chosen food and feeling it before we could actually eat it. When we were allowed to put it in our mouths, we had to feel it with our tongues and taste buds before we were allowed to start to chew. This was harder than it sounds! We did this exercise a couple of times before we had a break.
When we came back, after a bit more discussion, we did another meditation, this time with just the sound of a bell (it wasn’t actually a bell, it was a small instrument like a glockenspiel, but the effect was the same) just to keep us one track.
As you might guess, people had their own different thoughts and feeling about all of this. Me personally? If I can find a way to stop doing so many things at once, that has to be a good thing (even though I’m tugging at my Kindle right now to look for a meditation app). I know that none of them get my best when I’m trying to do then all at the same time. I’m going to give mindfulness a run and see how I go.
Before I finish this week’s blog, one more thing. My team and I went out for a meal last night, they are all going off in separate directions. We had a lovely meal in the Palm Court Brasserie in Covent Garden. Ladies, thank you all, keep your standards high and keep in touch.
© Susan Shirley 2015