I am a planner. I have always known this about myself, but regular meditation has really highlighted for me. Almost 100% of my thoughts during my practice go to planning, or even worse, planning to plan. I know that I do this to alleviate anxiety and to try to exert some control over my experiences, but it is also a sly thief of the present moment.
As a teacher, a large part of my job is lesson planning; this serves as sort of a lab, a microcosm, where I can limit some variables and examine others. I have been more mindful lately about my lesson planning methodology and the outcomes. I have come to an interesting realization; my most effective plans are also the most spontaneous, the ones that have undergone the least amount of rumination. The chances of something going awry, not according to plan, seem to be equal regardless of the mental energies expended prior. Good to know.
Planning for the future is my biggest obstacle to mindfulness. When I was in the art museum yesterday, I planned several potential solutions if I had trouble getting out of the parking garage, as there was no attendant on duty (Did I have enough cash? Was it in the right form? What businesses were open within walking distance where I could get change?). Each time my mind wandered, I was able to become aware and pull it back to the present, but it was certainly a tenacious companion through the first part of the museum. Once I was able to come up with a few possible solutions, I was able to let it go and relax.
Planning is a double-edged sword for me: I need a certain amount to let go of the future and enjoy the present, yet too much steals the present away from me. I suppose the trick is awareness of the planning and learning when its presence has overstayed its welcome beyond its effectiveness.
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Days 3 & 4 (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: a 28 Day Meditation Challenge (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Days 1 & 2 (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Monkey Mind! – Stop, Cancel, Change. (meaningfulwesternlife.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind (cloudandmountain.com)