I have been practicing what I like to jokingly call Zen. It’s a private joke in my own head of course, but it’s just a cute way to remember what really is mindfulness.

I’ve been noticing more about mindfulness lately. My psych has given me a few tools. One is the good old mood chart, where twice (or once) a day, you record your mood on a chart. That way you get to see over a period of time how your mood varies, and you can also see patterns. Twice a day is good because that could help uncover diurnal depression, but it also shows when you’re likely to feel ok and you might be able to schedule things into those parts of the day.

Another mindfulness related tool is to journal using the following prompts:

Thinking (what’s on my mind)
Feeling (describe my emotions)
Body (aches, tension, stiffness)
Senses (see below)
Hopes (what I am hoping for today)
Fears (what I’m worried about)
Dreams (what am I looking forward to)
Intentions (what am I going to do today)

Obviously you can write as little or as much as you like on each of these subheadings. Again, if you journal, you get to see hopefully some improvement, but also patterns. I journal online because I don’t like writing by hand.

Senses are important. This is probably one of the best grounding techniques. Basically you find a spot and make yourself comfortable and then one by one observe each of the senses.

What can I hear? Right now, the wind, and the washing machine and the dribbling of the fish tank.
What can I feel? Cold hands on the keyboard, one knee in the back of the other (I’m crossing my legs).
What can I see? Bushes, trees – a Mac screen!
Taste? The aftertaste of Pepsi Max and last night’s sleep (haven’t had brekky yet).
Smell? Not much right now – but I tried!

You get the idea. It’s a great technique. All part of my zen.

Finally, (this is the most important one for me right now) slowing down and taking my emotional pulse rounds out my zen. If I catch myself hurrying, hustling, getting caught up the hurly burly, I consciously slow everything down. It’s not much different to watching the gauges on the dash and slowing down if exceeding the speed limit. I really don’t want that adrenaline pumping unless I need to fight or flee something. I ask myself “how am I feeling?” and then ask myself why I might be feeling that. I really try and be attentive to my emotional state and acknowledge it.

So there you have it. My zen is geared to carrying ourselves through each day with poise, and grace, inner peace and a kind of transcendence. I like to think of it as being a modern-day contemplative.


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