An eternity one second at a time.

As another new year approaches, I could give you tips about making new years resolutions, or give you more tips on how to guarantee you fail at those resolutions… but this year I want to focus on presence.

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An eternity one second at a time

The sweeping
ticking
second-hand,
marking
the
steady
passing
of time.

Eight
Six
Four
Zero
Zero
times
a day.

Each tic
pregnant
with
promise
or pain.

Each
tic
a potential
beginning
or end.

Each tic
separated
by silence.

A brief
emblem
of the
infinite
nature
of time
yet
impermanent
nature
of being.

Each
tic
providing
a place
to panic
or
a place
to rest.

My wish for your new year and mine

For your new year I hope that each of those brief silences is an opportunity to rest, not panic. If troubles do befall you, I hope that you can learn to sit with your sadness and rest in the silence, and that you are surrounded by people who will help you to be resilient and deal with whatever the circumstances are. Overall, I hope that the new year is one of happiness for you and your family and friends.

I want to remind you of the gifts mentioned in my xmas post

To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, an example, and to yourself, respect.

I’ll be concentrating on being more present in each and every moment and trying to give these gifts throughout the year….. what will you be doing?

Get out of the doorway

Please get out of the doorway…

Time for an admission…. I hate it when people stop in doorways. Everything is moving along nicely and then someone stops dead at a doorway… looks puzzled, checks their pockets, scratches their head, turns to say something to someone else..or does one of a thousand other things that could be done before or after getting to the door. It frustrates the hell out me of me. There, I admitted it!

A surprising admission

This might come as a surprising admission.. particularly given that I have previously written about how a doorknob can keep you sane. But these two posts really do belong together.

That piece challenged you stop and think every time you put your hand on a doorknob. However the circumstances  causing me the most frustration are not the doorways with doorknobs, but the automatic doorways in public places… so no chance to put in action the specific little zen challenge contained in that doorknob post!

Turning gut reaction into science!!

Then I find that Professor Gabriel Radvansky of the University of Notre Dame (published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology) may have provided an answer as to why this phenomenon occurs.

He found that  “Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away. Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.” His study included a series of virtual and real world scenarios testing memory recall differences between crossing a room and exiting a doorway and in every set of scenarios the act of walking through a doorway resulted in the decline in memory performance associated with the task in that scenario.

I wondered…. is this act of stopping at the doorways triggered by a human gut reaction? Do we instinctively know that after crossing a threshold like a doorway that we will forget something. After all there are many examples of things that people do that have subsequently become the focus of psychological experiments… is this just another one?

What is your experience?

Have you experienced that sudden doorway stop… if so in what circumstances? Are you frustrated when other people do it? Does the Professors research ring true in your experience.. do you experience that memory loss of what you did in one room after you pass through a doorway?

If you are like most of the people I’ve already discussed this with then your answers are all likely YES!

Most people have mentioned the experience of having you gotten up to do something, walked into another room and then stared blankly thinking what did I come in here for? What was it that I was going to do?

Then I thought….

You know what… even if it is an instinctive gut reaction that doorknob post is still relevant….and a bit of a tweak might help to counteract this “forgetfulness” associated with moving through doorways.

So it’s time to update the challenge but instead of focusing on every time you put your hand on a doorknob… the challenge is for every time you approach an open doorway between doing tasks! I encourage you to ask yourself the questions like those contained in the doorknob challenge…..questions such as:

What am I feeling now?

Why am I feeling like this?

What am I about to do?

What is my intention on going through this door?

What is the task that I am going to perform on the other side of this doorway?

Who am I going to meet on the other side of the door?

Am I ready to really “meet” with them, and give them my FULL attention?

Are you up to the new doorway Challenge!

Choose a time-frame, whether it is a particular day or a week and every time you approach a doorway do one of these mini meditations….you never know you might find that your forgetfulness begins to disappear, and you begin to enjoy those mini zen like moments of clarity!

I’d be interested to hear what you think, or how you go at trying the doorknob challenge or this doorway challenge.. you can share your thoughts or experiences below.

Have you contemplated your death?

Have you contemplated your own death?

skull and crossbones by antmoose @flickr

Have you ever contemplated your own death?

DEATH… it’s not a subject that many people want to contemplate, but it is inevitable and none of us get out of this life alive! 

Due to my profession and the community work that I have chosen to be engaged in death is a subject that I regularly encounter, but over the past day a couple of things have crossed my path that led to me asking you the question about contemplating your death, so I thought I would share them with you…

from the Dhammapada…

Firstly a section of the Dhammapada, that deals with ageing and death:

“Look at the body adorned, A mass of wounds, draped upon a heap of bones, A sickly thing, this subject of sensual thoughts! Neither permanent, nor enduring!

The body wears out, A nest of disease, Fragile, disintegrating, ending in death.” 

from an outstanding blogger…

yet another timely and astounding piece from Jessica Hagy that she has titled “The Crux of Deathbed Regrets”

from a set of lessons which help guide my life..

“… a time will most assuredly come when death that great leveler of all mankind, reduces us to the same state and the best and the brightest of us knows not when…”

Your death?

If you contemplate your own immortality, and the reality that your time is limited but you just don’t know how limited, what does your own death mean to you?

Now that this thought is in the forefront of your mind… what people matter most in your life and what are you going to do about showing them how much you appreciate them?

Share your thoughts in the comments…

How a doorknob can keep you sane

The light can shine from a doorknob!

OK you’re thinking Mick has lost the plot…. he’s talking about door knobs and sanity, two subjects that surely don’t belong in the same post!

But wait…. it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

How many times do you put your hand on a doorknob in any day? Interesting question isn’t it, I bet your mind is now trying to fly through a day doing a quick tally of how many times you open a door.

OK OK… but what has  doorknob got to do with my sanity you’re asking?

Well that depends. If you are prepared to STOP for a second or two everytime you put your hand on a doorknob it could have a LOT to do with your sanity.

The doorknob was deliberately chosen because it is something that we frequently touch yet put little thought into. It is precisely these things that offer us a chance to become more mindful and to create a moment of calmness and clarity many times over during our day.

A doorknob for a moment of clarity.

If every time we put our hand on a doorknob throughout the day we pause, take a deep breath, relax our shoulders and briefly examine what is rushing through our heads, and ask ourselves a couple of quick questions we have an opportunity to take part in many mini meditations everyday.

What Questions?

The questions can be tailored to meet our individual needs but a good starting list of questions are:

What am I feeling right now?

Why am I feeling like this?

What am I about to do?

What is my intention on going through this door?

Who am I going to meet on the other side of the door?

Am I ready to really “meet” with them, and give them my FULL attention?

Other options?

The other option is to simply take the moment to relax yourself to take that deep breath, relax the shoulders, pull your posture up a bit straighter and experience the calmness that this brings, and carry that with you through the door and into the next part of your day.

The Challenge!

I dare you to take the doorknob sanity test. Choose a time-frame, a day or week and every time you put your hand on a doorknob do one of these mini meditations…. You never know you just might find that like in the picture for this post the light CAN shine from a doorknob!

creative commons image in this post by Dospaz