Be aware of several pervasive activities worthy of execution with uncompromising mindfulness. Here I present the activities, the ways to attain a mindful rendition, and commentary based on my own experiences.
Reading. There’s speed reading for capturing the essence of a book. All the 300-book per year readers leverage some form of speed reading.
I’m acquainted only with slow reading. A lot of what I read not only involves longer works of literature, but much descriptive language, rhetoric and innuendos.
If reading this sort of content, and not the quick, informational, get-to-the-point material (which I too have ‘read’ in a course of day), slow reading is what I encourage.
Read for the form of expression. Immerse yourself in the imagery. Contemplate the more provocative passages, the unexpected usage of vocabulary. Underline, annotate, take notes.
Read paper books if at all possible. Interact with the material. Really digest the book. The practice will also solidify the long-term storage in memory.
In contrast to other nomads or minimalists who surely recognize the pleasure of paper, yet opt for the ‘practicality’ of E-reading, I increasingly opt for paper.
As of late I’ve strictly elected E-reading for some quick works in between my heavy de-facto paper literature. Since I only read one such heavy work at a given time, carrying a paper book is of no consequence.
Upon termination, I trade or leave it, head to a used-book store (where I can spend hours) and come out with a new book. Over the course of an entire year I haven’t spent greater than USD $15 on used-book purchases.
Right now I’ve been travelling with Bleak House of Charles Dickens. With this 800 page gem, I’ve also acquired the taste for writing within the book, underlining, and circling curious passages. Much research (and the simple act of doing) indicates the enhanced effectiveness of reading in this engaging fashion.
Slowly, spaciously drink every sip of coffee. Learn to satiate your craving with tiny portion sizes.
Recognize the effect this liquid has on your faculty. Be mindful to the decreased returns with each additional sip beyond the initial benefit-rendering quantity. Feel the aesthetic element in the slowness and control you exercise.
Having long adapted this habit, I’ve occasionally found myself at a restaurant taking longer to finish one espresso-sized portion than my companion may take to consume an entire meal.
Consume food mindfully. Feel your digestive system at work. Visualize the impact of each bite. Discern real hunger from plain compulsiveness.
I recommend to focus the conscious mind entirely on the meal. Avoid phones, televisions, or even books.
Granted, I don’t always exercise due diligence, but I’ve been trying. My vices have involved not so much parallel content consumption, but the creation.
I love to eat accompanied by lists of notes, pondering and annotating ideas. Or sometimes I may just toss around ideas in my head. Possibly the healthier approach over plain mindless detachment, it still deviates the mind away from the meal.
I’m growing increasingly more attentive to the fact. Since the bulk of my calories come from two large meals (due to the daily intermittent fast), I’ve become especially mindful to consume each large batch systematically, slowly, careful not to overeat or provoke unnecessary insulin spikes, and yet leverage the needed nutritional quantity and variety. The practice has developed into a sort of meditative ritual.
Exercise mindfully. Stay attune to the body, lest you severely hinder the benefits, if not cause injury.
Stretch thoroughly. Perform pull motions slowly, conscientiously. Your mind and body are a union. Both reinforce each other. The body is sensitive to the oblivious mind. The mind grows lazy and ill with a neglected body.
This is anything but easy. If mindful eating requires discipline, food generally considered one of the most pleasant activities, who earnestly wishes to be mindful of strenuous, repetitive exertions?
We try to suspend the reality of the nature by whatever means: music, sociability (at a gym), the phone, or the mere disconnect of the mind from the body. Too often I observe a face attached to a body that haphazardly stretches over a period of five seconds, the two appearing distant and discordant.
Respect the underlying principle. Devote 100% attention to the activity. No multitasking, no disconnect. Treat it very much as a holistic and spiritual journey.
While fairly disciplined in performing mindful motions, I occasionally neglect mindfulness for the overall session. I may interlace quick bodyweight exercises and stretches with other unrelated tasks such as note taking or quick food prep. The troublesome habit concerns only indoor exercise and is by far not a rule, yet something to be alert for.
Walks, hikes, explorations. Intake your surroundings to the full extent. Inspect miniscule detail. Don’t rely on botanical gardens or museums to draw your attention. Find it everywhere.
See my deeper treatment of the subject.
Also don’t avoid rough or sloped terrain. Rather, embrace the random grounding to fortify the myriads of unused leg muscles.
The other day, I headed to the beach. It was a cloudy afternoon, no matter.
Once there, on a pure whim, I opted to head to the reef in lieu of the traditional stroll across the sand and ocean. I must have spent an hour traversing the massive stones covering the reef, exploring the clutches of algae, the shellfish, and the varying sea growth appearing near water level, and, having encountered an equally contemplative mariner along the way, reflecting on the giant sea turtles making brief appearances.
Upon my return to the beach, I climbed a tree.
Questions, comments? Connect.