Yesterday, while Theo was at the gym and I was fighting off a head cold that won’t quit, I bought a book at chapters that I have been eyeing for a while. A month ago I went to an editing workshop and the woman who led it kept talking about this book – How To Train A Wild Elephant by Jan Chozen Bays.

It’s a book full of daily mindfulness practices to help you live a more mindful life. I picked it up yesterday and read the introduction in Starbucks and, woah, I’m in. This book is totally for me. There are 52 practices, one you put into action every week, to help you live a more mindful life.

Lately I feel like the days slip away so quickly and that I am on autopilot for most daily tasks. The other day, as we were leaving our place to get a coffee, I was backing out of our spot and accidentally bumped into a car that was parked in our alley. There was no damage to either vehicle, because I had been backing out quite slowly, but it made me realize that I hadn’t been paying close enough attention to what I was doing. My mind was on the story Theo was telling me, and I didn’t shoulder check properly to ensure that there was enough space between us and the other car. It made me feel terribly disconnected – I hadn’t been present. I hadn’t been mindful of what I was doing.

The author defines mindfulness in this way: “Mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you and within you – in your body, heart, and mind. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgment.”

Here’s a quote from the introduction: “When we aren’t present, it makes us feel vaguely but persistently dissatisfied. This sense of dissatisfaction, of a gap between us and everything and everyone else is, is the essential problem of human life. It leads to those moments when we are pierced with a feeling of deep doubt and loneliness.” Yes. I’m pretty sure everyone has experienced this.

There are many more gems from the intro, but I won’t write them here. I really encourage anyone who wants to live a more mindful life to find this book. I’m committed to doing each exercise for a week, for a whole year. Hopefully as I practice them they will stick as part of my everyday life. Theo wants to do this with me, which I think is great. I’m going to blog about each new practice every Monday, so if you are interested in following along and trying some of them out, please feel free! Oh, and I love to hear from my readers, so if you do try out one of the practices, let me know how it went and what insights you may have gleaned!

The exercise for the first week is: Use your non-dominant hand.

“Use your non-dominant hand for some ordinary tasks each day. These could include brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or eating with your non-dominant hand for at least part of each meal.”

I already have some ideas as to why this task is meant to increase daily mindfulness. The hardest part with these exercises is remembering to do them in the first place, so I’ve set up some reminders around the house. Next Monday I’ll talk about what I discovered by using my non-dominant hand and I’ll introduce the second exercise. I’m really excited to start being more present in my daily life and living in a more mindful and intentional way.

Happy Monday!

p.s. Like the new blog design? It felt like this place needed to be freshened up.

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