Over the weekend I had the pleasure of reading How to Train a Wild Elephant and other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chosen Bays.
As a book on mindfulness, this is one of the best out there. It is written by a Zen Buddhist, yet, as a Christian I did not find it overly spiritual in nature. It was more full of simple, very practical insights about how to be more aware of the minutiae in our lives.
Jan talks about simple exercises you can do throughout your days to encourage you to slow down and smell the roses (so to speak).
You know me, I love productivity. I love getting to the end of the day, tired and satisfied, knowing I have done the work that God has given me.
Productivity and mindfulness seem at odds. Productivity requires more from you, mindfulness requires you to slow down and therefore seemingly requires you to do less.
However, I believe variety is the spice of life. It is in the hardworking that rest makes sense. If we do no work, from what exactly are we resting?
For me, productivity sits quite nicely next to mindfulness. The mindfulness makes more sense of the productivity and visa versa.
The fact is, I need a bit of mindfulness in my life to counterbalance the go, go, go of productivity.
So I’m taking one of the many excellent suggestions in the book and I’m going to give it a go for the next few weeks.
This mindfulness activity requires me to eat my food with my non dominant hand. This will
encourage force me to slow my eating, something I find hard. In doing so, I will be able to pay more attention to the whole process.
It has the added advantage, as Jan says, of training me to be able to use my left hand and so not to be reliant on my right. For, as she points out, there may be something in my future which prevents me using my dominant hand.
Eminently practical, this exercise will allow me to build strength in my non-dominant hand so losing the use of my dominant hand won’t affect me as much.
Mindful eating…who knows, perhaps it will encourage me to eat less as well, thereby meeting two goals at the same time.
Perhaps mindfulness is productive after all?!