I left the big city about 20 years past and the smaller city nearly 6 years ago. Now I live in a sleepy town that affords me many luxuries, one of which is not having to lock my car. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t; I always return to it undisturbed. This was not the case in my 20’s when I repeatedly returned to my car with the car stereo gone, wires dangling where it had been only moments before, my glove box obviously riffled through and maybe my parking meter change missing. So being no stranger to car break ins, on a recent trip to a big city, I was aware of the need to be sure to lock up. My husband, knowing my current habits, even called out a reminder as I walked out the front door.
Once I found myself on the exciting and seemingly exotic streets of my urban destination I was captivated by the many sights, sounds and certainly also the who, what, when and where of my business there. The first time I got out of the car, it was only after I walked the 1/2 block to the building I was intending to visit, and into the front door of said building that realize I wasn’t sure I had locked my car. “Did I lock my car?”, I said to myself unintentionally loudly and hoped no one heard my crazy self talk utterances. I had no recollection of locking it, no memory of the comforting “beep beep” the car makes when I secure the alarm, didn’t know if I saw the little buttons sink into their holes safe and snug till my return; essentially I had no idea if my car was locked or not. Remembering my own urging and that of my husbands, to be sure of this one detail on my Big Trip, I walked back out the front door, down the 1/2 block and back to my car, which was locked. Now repeat this same scenario with only slight variances three, yes three more times at each subsequent location I visited that day. Ug, sigh, you might think this is a sign of early senility or some side effect of peri-menopause (a catch all diagnosis that some of my friends and I have been using lately), but alas it is not as glamorous as that (if you call peri-menopause glamorous). It’s just simple distraction, wandering mind, thinking of what I am about to do, not what I am currently doing— also known as mindlessness.
On my fourth journey from my car that day I got the message, the “mindfulness bell of life” had rung and called me to awareness. I did what was needed, I after all know the solution to mindlessness; notice what you are doing as you are doing it. I watched my hand grasp the key and dismissed any thoughts about what I was about to do and did not look around yet at the interesting happenings on the sidewalk. I kept my attention with doing what I was doing. I listened to the sound of the car “beep beeping” as it indicated the alarm was now on and I felt myself stop for a split second to take in the moment that all the little buttons sank down. Then I went on to do the things I was in the city to do, rather than attempting to mentally do them before I was actually doing them at all.
Mindfulness in everyday life is incredibly simple: notice what you are doing while you are doing it, however that does not mean it is easy. It took me four voyages from my car to remember to notice… and I teach this stuff!
Next time you catch yourself forgetting to remember, you’ve just arrived at an opportunity to leave mindlessness and inhabit mindfulness again— or to notice what you are doing as you are doing it. For me, once I arrived “in the moment”, it felt wonder-ful (full of wonder) no matter how long or why I had been gone!
Rebekkah enjoys supporting people in their own everyday mindfulness practices. Contact her today about your skype, zoom, or phone mindfulness session.