Friday, April 1, 2011

Irritating tasks made simpler

When we stop doing something mindlessly and bring consciousness to our activity, movements become much more efficient and enjoyable.

Yesterday morning, I found myself trying to get peanut butter out of a near-empty jar.  All of a sudden, I realized that I had completely contorted myself--arms, torso, head, neck, etc.--as I put a ridiculous amount of energy into trying to scrape the hardened bits of peanut butter off the bottom of the jar.  In the moment that I noticed what I was doing, I stopped and just had to laugh!

Thankfully, I had enough presence of mind to stop completely for a moment to consider whether I really wanted to be doing this or not (the answer was a clear 'no'), and I remembered that I knew perfectly well how to approach this irritating task in a non-irritating way!

It only took a few seconds to bring my awareness out of the peanut butter jar (!) and back up into the upper front of my brain.  As I did this, my body straightened up again and my whole self released into a calmer, more relaxed state.  Staying forward and up, asking myself to not stiffen myself, I managed to get the peanut butter out faster and with dramatically less effort, and I actually enjoyed making the movements instead of wasting my energy on needless contortions and irritation.  The whole scene was very funny, really.

  • Next time you have a small, potentially irritating task to do (maybe something as silly as pouring milk out of a full jug or scrubbing a hardened bit of food off of the stove or the table), stop for a moment before diving in. 
  • Ask yourself, "Do I want to save my energy and enjoy this task with efficiency, or do I just want to 'muscle it', get it over with, and get on with the next thing which I will (supposedly) enjoy more than I usually do?"
  • Bring your awareness forward and up and wonder what might happen next.
  • Staying forward and up in your brain, say, "I am not stiffening myself.  I'm allowing my torso and arms to be long and wide".
  • Stay forward and up as you observe your body lengthen into the necessary motions below with the minimum amount of tension required for the task.
  • Notice whether you are moving differently now because you are more conscious.  
  • Enjoy!

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