This week I have picked the first three Mindfulness tips from “How to Train a Wild Elephant”. (View my last blog here for an explanation of the book). It will be no easy task, but since my mother is doubting me I have no other choice but to prove to her that I am capable. Below is a brief description of the three exercises I will try to incorporate throughout the week. I will report back at the end of the week with my analysis.
1. Use Your Nondominant Hand
I’ve been a “Righty” my entire life. I never questioned my instict to be right handed, it has always felt natural to me. According to Dr. Bays, using our nondominant hand brings us back to what Zen teachers call “beginner’s mind.” She says, “Our dominant hand might be forty years old, but the nondiminant hand is much younger, perhaps two or three years old. We have to learn all over again how to hold a fork and how to get it into our mouths without stabbing ourselves…” This mindfulness tactic shows how strong and unconscious our habits are, and how difficult they are to change without AWARENESS and determination. This task will help you bring awareness to daily activities (such as eating) that we often do with little to no awareness.
2. Leave No Trace
My mom told me she noticed my room was especially clean today. I told her I was practicing being a turtle. Dr. Bays explains that in Zen paintings, turtles symbolize the practice of “leaving no trace”. They sweep the sand with their cute little tails – erasing their footprints. When we “wash, dry, sweep, fold, and put away our things with mindfulness – it becomes an expression of gratitude for their silent service.” So this week I vow to hang up my bathroom towel every day not just to satisfy my mom – but to express gratitude to my towel for always being there for me.
3. Eliminate Filler Words
I gulped when I read this one. I am awful. Terrible. With filler words. Mainly one word. Like. I cringe everytime I notice myself say it. It is not uncommon that 5 or more times within a span of talking for 1 minute, it will bubble up. If there is one thing I never want to come off as – it is dumb – and “Like” just isn’t really a smart word at all. This is another unconscious habit that can be broken while being mindful of what you say. Dr. Bays points out it is important to not only try to eliminiate the filler words – but question why you are using them so much. Some people use them as “space holders” between sentences, they are also used to soften what we say (we live in a politically correct society), and sometimes use them if we are afraid of provoking a reaction or of being wrong.
So, on my Mindfulness Journey this week, I am especially focusing on the following…
- Use my left hand to eat all meals
- Use my left hand to brush my teeth
- Use my left hand to put on chapstick
- Leave no trace in the bathroom
- Leave no trace in the kitchen
- Notice the # of times I use the word “Like” in one conversation
- Attempt to eliminate the use of the word “Like”
- Contemplate why I commonly use the word “Like” in conversation