October – pay attention

 

 

A quick skim back through the original inspiration for this crazy year (‘The Happiness Project’, Gretchen Rubin) has reminded me what this month is about – living in the moment.

I have mixed feelings about those twee quotes that constantly pop up on Facebook, mugs and fridge magnets. Occasionally they truly inspire me; more frequently they irritate due to their constant repetition. Keep calm and carry on, anyone? But one that does truly resonate goes along the lines of remember the past, look forward to the future, live for the present.

As someone who is constantly on the go, bringing multi tasking to new levels every day in every way (aka this blog – ‘Tim, at exactly what time are we watching Emmerdale? Do I have twenty minutes to go online?’), I do get bored very easily and find it almost impossible to sit still and do nothing. Meditation being a case in point – a couple of years ago we introduced this to our curriculum and I found (and continue to find) it impossible to build into the timetable. Sitting still for one whole minute whilst repeating the word ‘Maranarthur’ is my idea of hell – I can mark a book or check my phone in that amount of time, far more productive!

But am I wrong? Indeed, often my hours and days pelt past in such a whirl of activity that I seldom have time to stop and reflect on whether something has actually gone well before hurtling towards the next deadline. If someone is particularly chatty (we all have at least one friend who can talk for hours!) I find myself mentally twitching – shouldn’t I be somewhere else, doing something else? Which is a shame, because I can cease to focus on what is being said as my mind drifts elsewhere. Apart from the fact I’m too dim to qualify in the first place, I would be totally useless as a GP. Hearsay states that patients reveal the most critical symptom just as they leave the surgery – ‘Oh, by the way, should I worry that my left (substitute word according to gender) has ballooned to three times the size of my right?’ I would probably just grunt in a distracted manner whilst self importantly clicking the mouse, scratching my nose and metaphorically saying ‘Next’ in my most authoritarian tone as I wave them out of the room.

Apparently ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama is the book most recommended for those of us seeking to improve our lot – it is argued that Buddhism holds the key to living in the moment with its focus on mindfulness (and what a trending word that is right now!). Not having the time or the inclination to read the full text, this is the month I should perhaps hunt out one of those ‘idiot guides’ so that at least I get the hang of the headlines. This would sit particularly well with October’s pending trip to China, where Buddhism is one of the most popular faiths, alongside Taoism. With last month’s focus on learning including commencement of an Alpha curse and also the European discovery of China, I shouldn’t be short of reading material en route to Beijing. Linking quite neatly to this, I have been told by more than one person that I should take up yoga as the physical manoeuvres would help sort out a recurring back problem – it would be a real bonus if I could slow down the brain at the same time, pulling me back firmly to the present moment rather than multitasking as if my life depended on it.

Therefore I have these aims for the month of October: get and read a copy of that idiot’s guide, investigate and invent some koans, attempting to use them in meditation, and add a couple of core strength yoga positions to my already pathetic exercise routine.

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And here is a …

Basic guide to get me started

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