Recently I travelled (hence the delay in this week’s blog – apologies).
Naturally as a student of mindfulness I notice everyday events in detail, this happens when I travel just as it does every other day.
One of the things that I noticed again was how often people appear to be flustered when they travel. Some even panicked that they might be doing something wrong.
Travelling creates a major break in routine which our minds need to deal with. We need to be observant of new conditions such as traffic moving in a different direction, or perhaps a different etiquette, carrying extra things we may need, noticing where services and supports may be, getting to places at scheduled times.
If we neglect to notice these things we can make mistakes and feel quite silly about ourselves when we would normally be quite competent.
We can also leave or forget things such as phone chargers, tickets, books or other belongings in hotel rooms; leave parcels on seats or on transport; or forget to carry cash in places that don’t have teller machines.
Breaking routines as we have noted in a previous blog in January, Changing Things Up a Bit, creates an environment of flexibility. Doing things differently can be challenging when our minds have created habits and expect things to go a certain way.
When things don’t go as automatically as we thought, panic can set in. I have seen people at airports frantically going through their luggage checking for certain belongings. I have seen people checking and double checking that they have got everything with them. Our minds can be quite edgy when we think we might make a mistake and look silly in front of others. We can become distraught if we forget something, which we think at the time is really quite valuable, too valuable to lose. If we do happen to forget it, we soon realise that we can either live without it or it is replaceable to some extent.
For this week’s Mindfulness Challenge you might need a sense of humour, as the challenge is to use your non-dominant hand for as many ordinary tasks as you possibly can each day.
Some things you could consider may be changing how you drink your morning cuppa, brushing your teeth, locking your door, picking things up, unpacking the dishwasher, opening the refrigerator, even scratching your head or folding your arms, handing something to someone, or changing the television channels.
You might try writing with your non dominant hand. Of course if you have an important certificate or document to sign you may want to use your dominant hand, but at other times give it a go.
You will of course notice how clumsy and awkward it will feel. You may not remember but there was a time when using any hand was clumsy and awkward as you started out becoming independent as a child. Your dominant hand has grown a skill that the non-dominant hand hasn’t.
This exercise can teach us many things. To appreciate our dexterity and our ability to use the limbs we have, to the ability we have.
To notice perhaps and develop compassion for others when they are clumsy or unskilled; or perhaps injured or disabled. We can develop compassion and patience and not expect others to always complete things as we would do.
This task will challenge your determination as well as your ability to tolerate imperfection.
You may be surprised at how quickly or how slowly your mind and body adapt, this could be beneficial if you ever become incapacitated or injured for a period.
You may develop a confidence in your non dominant side and realise that you are not too old to learn new skills and you have many abilities lying deep beneath the surface just waiting for the opportunity to be revealed.
Mostly it will encourage you to approach daily tasks with the Beginner’s Mind I have previously blogged about (June 15th, 2014). To approach things without expectation, with an openness to what will happen, with curiosity and patience toward yourself.
With practice you will develop trust in yourself, a freedom knowing that you are capable of so many things that even you didn’t know about.
Stay present, flexible, and accepting with open-hearted spaciousness and watch yourself grow.