A few weeks ago I downloaded some software called Stillness Buddy. I was missing the times at the temple where every hour some chimes would sound, signalling everyone to stop what they were doing, close their eyes, and do one minute’s meditation. I used to love those minutes of silence, when the click clack of the keyboards and the chit chat of the people would stop, and peace would fill the room. When I left the temple and returned to Australia, I wanted to figure out a way to remind myself of taking these short mindfulness breaks, because I knew that in the business of my daily work I was going to forget them.
I discovered some software called Stillness Buddy that has been developed for exactly this purpose, especially for people who work at a computer all day. It includes some mindfulness exercises of Thich Nhat Hanh, and a proportion of the cost goes towards setting up his new retreat centre.
I installed the software and for the first couple of weeks of work I loved the little mindfulness breaks. As well as reminding me to be still and peaceful, they also reminded me to be conscious of my body and to stretch and correct my posture (inevitably crumpling towards my screen and keyboard).
Then I got busier and occasionally I would get annoyed when the break notification popped up and I was in the middle of doing something. I started hitting the ‘escape’ key to cancel the break. Then one day as I did this a notification appeared. It suggested that instead of cancelling the break, maybe I would like to just be aware of the feeling that I had of wanting to cancel the break, and do the break anyway. That really made me think! I mean sometimes, if someone is in my office for a meeting, I do actually have to cancel the break. But sometimes I was just cancelling it because I was in the middle of a furious race to finish something. It occurred to me that I was fast heading towards a sorry state if I couldn’t allow myself to take a one minute break every now and then in the middle of my work! I decided that I had better be disciplined and do the breaks, regardless of how busy and rushed I was. Sometimes I still have a moment of annoyance when the message pops up as I’m working, but very quickly I am learning to let that go. I’m also learning to actually take the break and be mindful (ie. not spend the minute doing something else, superficially ‘productive’, while I’m waiting for the minute to pass and my computer to unlock itself).
Yes, I am the mistress of avoiding mindfulness! Someone once informed me that I was not a human being, I was a human doing! But I’m working on a new mantra:
Just BE it!