I always give my students homework coming out of a lesson, Often it involves Active Rest and an awareness focus for the week--whether its noticing the way the student breathes before speaking, how much pressure they use on a knife when slicing vegetables, or something more abstract, such as thinking about connecting their pelvis to the rest of the torso. This mindfulness becomes essential in building a students learning from lesson to lesson and empowering their self-reliance and discovery. The deal is always that they try their best, and if they don't succeed that's okay, but to come back ready to report what got in the way, because this can also contain a wonderful bit of learning. Almost invariably, one predominate answer comes back:
"I was really busy."
I don't know anyone who doesn't feel like this constantly. Our world has a lot of bustle, and its easy to lose track of ourselves in the swirl of activity constantly going on around us; the constant demands our jobs, home lives, and passions put on us. However, the ironic thing is that it is in this bustle, when it is so hard to be mindful, that the mindfulness is most needed. It helps to keep us present, de-stresses us, prevents us from self-harm, and makes sure we aren't moving so fast that we miss out on the enjoyment of life.
Normally, I encourage students to journal to help them keep mindful, but some find even remembering to do that is difficult when life gets tough. So I wanted to take this opportunity to make you all aware of a new tool that can help motivate you: it is an app called 'Awareness In Activity'. Designed by Alexander Technique Amsterdam and Split Gene, it is the best Alexander Technique related app I have found.
Some apps I have found try to do to little (there is an A.T. app out there that has been reviewed as basically a commercial trying to get you to take lessons with no further benefit, which is not okay in a paid app) or too much (in the end, you can't learn Alexander Technique from a computer as well as in person). What I like about Awareness in Activity is that it has a defined role--it is a tool to help you remember to be aware and present.
It works like this. You set an awareness focus (such as the ones I routinely give my students). You program it to remind you periodically to pay attention to this focus. Then, at the end of the day, you set a reminder for it to ask you how much you remembered your focus. It then color code logs this on a calendar. Boom. So you not only get a way to remember to be present when busy, but a way to record your progress and feel accomplished about it. In addition, it features a constructive rest sub-app that has two main settings; a simple, nice 15 minute guided lie-down and an unguided constructive rest timer, where you can set intervals for your phone to make gentle noise to make sure you haven't drifted off. Any use of these features is also recorded on the calendar, which gives you a great ability to be accountable and notice your habits (oh wow, I only do lie-downs in the morning, maybe I should try one at night; I haven't done active rest in 3 days, I should probably make time today to make sure I am taking care of myself).
There also is a journal section where you can keep notes on your mindfulness progress, useful for creating a way to reference your journey and remember thoughts and awareness points you have had.
All in all, I really enjoyed this app and found it useful for picking up good habits of mindfulness (though I think my hope would be that you would eventually be able to be accountable without help once good habits have been established). I encourage you to see how it might be useful to you. It is available on iTunes and Google Play for a minimal fee(between $2.00 and $2.50).
Thoughts on what is going on in the work and the world right now. Many posts to come.