So, I have a phone therapist now. I don’t talk to him all that often, I mean it’s not like he’s on speed-dial or anything, I’m not that much of an emotional train wreck, thank you very much, but we talk every few weeks or so as needed. He’s very kind but if you ask me, he’s a bit of a stress case himself. Or maybe he’s just stressed out by me, I don’t know. I wouldn’t blame him if he was. All I’m saying is that the guy seems like a chronic worrier. I don’t mind, though. He doesn’t judge me (outwardly at least), and he makes a fair number of practical suggestions. One of those suggestions was to download an app called “Mindfulness Coach.”
Whenever I hear the word “mindfulness” these days, I instantly go into hard eye-roll mode. That phrase and indeed the entire concept is now as ridiculously ubiquitous as it is misunderstood. It’s also been outright misused for nefarious purposes by corporations trying to manipulate their employees into putting up with their bullsh*t by making them more “accepting.” So I’m cranky about it to begin with, and the thought of just sitting there doing nothing and having to be alone with my thoughts throws me into a mild panic. It always has. I don’t do well with that sort of thing. I like to relieve stress through movement. I like things that exhaust me—fast walking, swimming or jamming out a hard session at the gym. (Ugh, I can’t believe I actually just used the phrase “jamming out a hard session.” I’m so sorry. I’ve become what I despise.)
There is nothing I want to do less than just sit quietly. That allows the bad thoughts in. But having rejected most of the phone guy’s previous suggestions, I decided to suck it up and go ahead and try this app. And it’s surprisingly good. It seems to intuitively understand that people have terrible attention spans and that our brains have all been ruined by Twitter and that we don’t really want to sit there quietly having to confront our horrible thoughts. I believe it was initially designed to help veterans suffering from PTSD, so it’s gentle and non-judgmental, and it feeds you information in simple little bite-sized bits. It’s also uncomplicated—you have four things you can do in the app: Read about mindfulness, practice mindfulness, track your progress, and advance your knowledge if you want to. It’s laid out very cleanly, and it doesn’t mind if you want to skip around in the reading and knowledge parts. Its big takeaway is that everyone’s mind is scattered to the four winds and that’s okay. It is part of the human condition and you do not need to judge yourself for it. Your mind will wander during practice, and that’s okay, too. It’s all part of the process. Just notice when it happens and bring your attention back to your focus point. It’s all very nice and mild and measured and calm, which I do appreciate despite my derision.
I managed to do one practice session at work last week. It was one minute long, and let me tell you, that one minute felt like a week. I was twitchy and distracted and annoyed and blinky and incessantly judgmental of myself. I think I probably got six seconds of actual mindfulness in, if that. And I noticed that when I went back in today to do another practice session, the app had sneakily tried to bump it up to five minutes. Five minutes! What am I, the Dalai Lama? I’m nowhere near ready for five minutes of this baloney. One minute is quite enough, thank you very much. I’ll report in next week to let you know if I was able to get that six seconds of mindfulness up to seven, or if I opted to just run screaming from the room.
There are a ton of videos on mindfulness, but I didn’t care for any of the ones I watched, and I need a little chaos to counterbalance all of the ohm. Here are the Rumjacks being wicked boys and tearing it up in a pub: