The Accidental Life
As a student of human behavior, my latest studies involve observing how fast or slow people do things. Everything from speech, to physical movement during tasks and even response times to the events and situations around them. I've been personally observing this and taking notes in this study for years now.
What I'm finding connects very well with a friend's message to "Slow Down" as a means of restoring one's own conscious control. I have found that over time, with each generation, people are increasingly living at a burnout pace. At this moment in time, we are already burnt out...and barely hanging on, yet we are still racing around, trying stay ahead of some unseen force that is chasing us. This is stressing us out like never before. This is the single biggest reason we are physically and mentally killing ourselves and we aren't even aware of it.
I was just watching how people walk, talk, drive or really do almost everything, as if they have no time to do it. Would you watch an entire movie, or listen to music in its entirety on fast forward for the duration? Of course not, yet this is how we mostly live our lives in this modern, hectic, fast paced society. We only occasionally pause it, only to pick up the pace after a break of distraction. We are like busy squirrels on crack, frantically running around, scatterbrained and completely on the edge of a massive nervous breakdown...as individuals and as a society. Busy trying to accomplish things but entirely unproductive, and doing so with a lack of joy, peace and purpose. Oh sure...many are successful, even amazingly so. But they are killing themselves in the process and don't have a clue why they are doing it. Oh, they have their justifications, but it all comes from their programmed ego.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention to your intention. The entire idea of multitasking is a myth. It is a faulty belief that we can divide our attention among many things and do them all at once. We may think we are being more productive, or efficient, but what we are really doing is, instead of doing anything one thing to the very best of our abilities, we are doing them all half-assed while also not enjoying any of them fully.
I have noticed it more over this past year because I have been personally working on a deeper level to slow down and be mindful of every single thing I do. It is by contrast that I've really taken notice of how we collectively are operating at hyperspeed.
I would like to challenge everyone to spend one entire day being mindful of every single thing you do, all day long and journaling your thoughts and activities throughout the day and note whether or not you were actually mindful with each activity, person and event as your day plays out. I'll bet you can't do it. Be honest with yourself. You don't have to share it. I just want you to become conscious of how mindless we tend to live.
Here are the instructions...
1. Set an intention.
2. Act on that intention.
3. Do not allow any thought to enter your consciousness that is not solely devoted to that action of your intention.
4. Be aware of the moment you are in both, the intention and action.
5. Pay attention to how you feel in the moment.
6. Hold that focus until you have completed the action.
7. Upon completion of that singular task, set a new intention.
8. Repeat with the next intention.
From the moment you wake up, follow these instructions exactly as written out. Know that you will be interrupted, but just allow life to unfold as it will. With every interruption of your mindful activity, allow the interruption, allow the emotion in the moment. Set the intention that you will place your sole focus on the person or event interrupting you. When that person or event moves on, return back to the mindful task you were doing prior to the interruption and focus once again, solely on that activity alone. Do not allow your ego mind to create a story, either about what you are doing in the moment, nor the interruption. Just go back to your mindful task.
Do this with every single thing you do today. If you are making coffee, focus solely on making it. When you are drinking it, be mindful of every sip. If you are making breakfast, have your sole focus be on making it, and only on that singular task. When you are eating it, with every bite, put your fork or the sandwich down, and be mindful of every chew, totally aware of the taste, texture and how you are nourishing your body with it. Do not allow your mind to drift onto anything but eating your breakfast. When you drive to work, set the intention of driving safely to work and mindfully drive to work, with the awareness of your own driving, and everyone you share the road with. Do not allow your focus to drift towards being late, or where to park, or what you will do once you get there, or any other distracting thought. Simply be consciously mindful of your driving. If someone tailgates you or cuts you off, allow the interruption, paying attention to your emotion. Just allow it and then return back to your mindful driving.
Do this with every single thing you do today. Can you do it? You can, but this is an exercise to teach you a lesson on your awareness of your own life. You see, your life is not a random accident waiting to happen TO you. You are creating all of it. You are either creating it with intention and mindfulness, or you are creating it mindlessly, unconscious of the fact that every single thing that plays out in your life is either because you control it, or you are allowing others to create and control it for you. There are no accidents. The coffee you spill is caused by not being mindful. The person cutting you off in traffic is your lack of mindfulness of your own driving and that of those you share the road with. You being late to work was a lack of being mindful of the intention you set for the day. The food you slammed down on your way out the door wasn't enjoyed only because you did it mindlessly. Everything done mindlessly has a way of coming back to bite you and cause stress.
While these things you do on this day are singular events, seemingly having no connection, the reality is, it is the sum of these events that make up your life, one moment at a time. You cannot say you do not have the time to be mindful of everything you do. What you are really saying then, is that your life is not worth savoring every moment, and so these moments are lost opportunities to live with purpose. You are then trapped in the faulty belief that nothing you do is important enough to pay your full attention to it. And so you lose these moments. But these moments are your life.
Are you aware of it? Are you mindful? You can either make each and every moment have deep meaning, or you can go about your moments, your days, your years, your entire life and live an accidental life. It is a choice, whether you are aware of it or not.
So I challenge you to take just one single day and slow down, be mindful of every single moment and be fully present in it. Certainly you can take one day out of your life to create some awareness of how you live it. What you do with the rest of your days is, of course, entirely up to you.