Monday, April 1, 2013

Being Mindful

I've been very stressed and tired over the past several days. There's not much I can do about the stress (it's mostly external) or the tiredness (it's mostly Edwin-related), but I thought there might be something I could do to keep myself calmer and more centered. I decided to embark on an experiment in living more mindfully. I thought that if I could focus on doing on thing at a time, I might not feel so overwhelmed.

I started experimenting last night. After a full day spent with family and food, I sat down to watch Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. This movie is an Easter tradition with me; I record it from TCM and watch it on Easter evening every year. It's safe to say I've seen the movie quite a number of times.

Generally, when I've watched something a lot, I reach for some additional form of entertainment after about five minutes or so, downgrading the movie or TV show to background noise. I start playing games on my iPhone, checking Facebook, or reading a magazine. I end up not giving my full attention to either the movie or the secondary distraction. How relaxing can that be?

So last night, even though I've seen Easter Parade about twenty times, I decided to resist all other distractions and be fully present while I watch it. And that's what I did. (Okay, I drank a cup of tea while I watched. But that doesn't really count.)

It was a little weird, sitting still on the couch, my hands wrapped around my hot mug of tea instead of flying over a keyboard or turning the pages of a magazine. But I enjoyed the experience. I noticed details of the movie I hadn't paid attention to before: Fred Astaire's clothes; Ann Miller's overdone makeup; Peter Lawford's raccoon coat and endearingly off-key singing. I was impressed by the job someone did in digitizing the movie- the color and clarity were excellent. And I felt myself relax, much more than usual. It was a good wind-down to the day, and even though it was only half an hour before Edwin woke up and I had to go comfort him, I felt more rested than I would have expected.

This week, I'm going to try harder to focus on doing one thing at a time, at least while Edwin's asleep. (While he's awake, I can never fully concentrate on what I'm doing, because I have to be aware of what he's doing too.) I'm hoping this experiment will help me keep my head clearer and my attention sharper, and maybe even feel more rested overall.

Stay tuned for part two of this topic, to be posted on Wednesday or Thursday this week, entitled I Love/Hate my iPhone.

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