Set a Distance to Remain Mindful

September 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm 2 comments

“Direction is more important than speed.  We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestone.”
Author Unknown

The wandering mind is so commonly dominant and pervasive that even setting an intention to be present often isn’t enough to bring your awareness into the moment, especially during practice in everyday life activities.  It helps to have ways to encourage the mind to stay in the present moment; and, it helps to keep those methods bounded.  Expecting your awareness to remain in the present moment without fail during daily activities just isn’t realistic, particularly given the design of our brains, which are tuned to be on high alert for any potential threats to our survival.

Kirk, a student in one of my mindfulness classes, shared the following helpful way of encouraging more mindful moments during motion-driven activities.  Try it out and tell me how it works for you:

“As I was riding my bike the other day, attempting to be present, I noticed that my mind quickly wandered. It was an exquisite day, and I really wanted to be in the moment. My mind kept wandering, and it seemed hard to keep it from wandering.  I then had an idea to set a certain distance, rather than time, to remain present.  I tried it on a short, quiet, beautiful stretch of road, and found it to be much more effective to set a distance to be mindful, rather than just trying to be present constantly.  [Being mindful] constantly may work eventually, but not yet for me.

“The same may be true for other motion driven activities that cover space: walking, hiking, driving, biking, swimming, things that you cover ground, set a goal in the distance, and keep focused on that distance, rather than the time.”

What methods work well for you to maintain your mindful awareness in the midst of everyday activities?

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cathy  |  September 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Good tip. One of the few times I *am* consistently mindful, though is when I’m swimming. I notice each stroke as I make it, I notice my breaths, I notice how the water feels. Sometimes I could replay my entire session in my memory.

    Reply
  • 2. David Kay  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Kirk’s observation certainly rings true for me as a race driver. Racing and high-performance driving are the best “flow” activities I know. And one of the underappreciated and really important techniques in racing is using distance — looking way ahead, a constant far distance ahead, all the time.

    Fixating on a corner’s apex, another car’s bumper, or the competitor behind you is a sure way to lose speed and positions. Focusing on the tirewall you’re afraid of hitting as your car’s back end steps out is a sure way to hit that tirewall. Focus far, far ahead, to your goal — and shift your goal constantly forward.

    dbk

    Reply

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Julie Forbes, Ph.D.

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