Steam Mops and Laziness

Lazy CleaningAfter returning home from work yesterday, I was greeted by my smiling wife telling me to look at the floors. As usual, I did what she asked. As usual, I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Look how clean they are” she said. She seemed surprisingly pleased with herself and I began to wonder whether or not her long term unemployment was finally getting the better of her. Humans need a purpose, without it, they begin to act a little strange.

Eventually, I figured out that her overly excited state was not in fact the result of sparkling floors. Instead she was happy because she had just purchased a new mop.

“It’s not just a mop Brian, it’s a steam mop.”

Now, I’ve never been one to keep up with modern technology. And as a result, the words “steam mop” didn’t immediately ring a bell. I assumed it was some kind of cleaning device that utilized steam.

While that assumption turned out to be correct, what I did next was not..

“Why would you waste money on such a thing?”

Of course, this predictable mistake had the predictable result of an argument in which I was educated on the cleaning abilities of steam and interrogated as to why I “had to always ruin everything”.

I’ve learned two things from this experience. First off, when your wife purchases something, however illogical, keep your mouth shut. Women like spending money. And if it’s a hundred dollar steam mop, it’s not worth the argument.

The second thing I’ve learned is that humanity is clearly getting lazier than ever.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against steam cleaning. My wife forced me to visit a website about the best steam mops and I can certainly see the attraction.

They are certainly an intelligent invention. But what worries me is that they’re not exactly a necessary one. And I think they sum up just how lazy people are becoming.

Is it that hard to carry around a bucket of water when cleaning the floor? Are we in that much of a rush that we cannot wait twenty minutes for those floors to dry?

In the twenties, we invented Penicillin. In the nineties, we invented the internet. And in the thousands? We invented a way to clean floors without carrying too much water around.

Perhaps next years biggest invention will be a way to change TV stations without having to go through the labor of picking up a plastic remote. Oh wait….

Mindful Upset

The more I learn about being “mindful” the more I understand and value it.

It’s not what I thought it was …. it’s better and it’s effective.

I know in my last post I asked you to join me in learning about and using mindfulness as a tool to help you with eating “issues” whatever they may be. But now I see how being mindful through every moment of the day, well, can be very significant in your life. Why? Hold on I’m getting there ..

Today I had a big meting with teachers and administrators about my son who has a learning disability. He failed all his classes in the first marking period and today was a “if he can’t turn the corner he’l have to go to another school where they may have better services …” and so on.

Before the meting, yesterday in fact, I was in tears. This school is great and the idea of him having to leave because of … and so on, well, I was upset.

Today though I told myself I was going to be mindful about my state of mind. I was going to enjoy my ride to the school in a mindful way. Mindfulness is a way of being. I watched the trees fly by out the car window. I noticed the color of th sky, smells in the cool winter air. sounds of other cars on the highway. I thought about my state of mind.

“How upset am I?” I asked myself . Am I able to see objectively my state of mind and how I want to be in this meeting? The day before I was ready to call a lawyer and I had collected all my information about my son ready for a fight, ready for war (short of painting “war” marks on my face to prepare for battle). I cried. Tears of a heartbroken mother trying to figure out what to do and how to help my son.

But mindfulness kept me rational, in the here and now. I was not upset at the meeting. I listened, spoke when I needed to and it actually turned out alright – and a wonderful gift even presented itself to me through the eyes of my son.

One of the administrators spoke to my son (basically saying – poop or get off the pot) mesmerized him. He was captivated and inspired by his words. A mentor and a role model was the gift to my boy who had not been excited about anything having to do with school. My son has someone to look up to. How GREAT is that!

I think things will be different now.

So how significant is mindfulness? It is a way of being. It is a way to be involved with every moment you are living as it comes. Because I was mindful I responded better to my feelings and the topic being addressed. I was not in an emotional tizzy planning to “set them straight” about our rights. Mindfulness is a way of responding to life not reacting to it.

No. It was all calm, all good, and even wonderful. Who knew? Mindfulness did…

How Automatic Are You?

Recently, I spent some time with family at my in-laws house.

I was struck by an initial greeting from a distant relative through marriage. I extended my hand to greet this person when before I said ANYTHING, a hello, how are you, etc., she blurted out automatically ..

“I’m fine and nice to see you”.

I never asked the question how she was!

Well, this really bothered me and it made me think of how automatic some conversations are. I have often been party to this, guilty of being automatic myself at times depending on the situation. But places like work, walking on the streets, passing someone you know in a store conversation is automatic and it feels like there’s no meaningful conversation at all.

It’s like verbal texting!

Yet what would I say instead? Could I say something totally different ( of course I could) and risk getting the “look” from someone else that I was, let’s say unusual?

“Hi, you look vibrantly healthy today!” (What did I look sick to you the other day?)

“Hi, how wonderful to run into you today, you look great!” (Well, okay, that seems okay)

“Hey there! You make me smile when I see you!” ( Not sure about this one – they may run in the other direction, or think I’m flirting)

Okay, so I use the usual ingrained, automatic greeting and conversation ( and maybe even with someone I know personally) and has anything of value been exchanged?

Do I want value to be verbally exchanged? Is it important enough to really think about what’s coming out of my mouth when greeting someone? Especially someone I know or not?

I think yes.

In this day and age when life is so rushed, automatic, dependent on taps on a screen, or push of a button on cell phones, gadgets, etc., we are communication “dehydrated” filled with empty, often meaningless exchanges .

In between the the verbal “texting” is a void that I often yearn for which is this – knowing that a conversation I just had with someone really meant something.

What We Don’t See Matters

What if there were a whole other life experience to explore in between the time we spend rushing through life and the non-stop thinking we do that occupies our minds 24/7?

What if we are ignoring or missing out on that which is most important in life – enjoying it?

Slowing down is a challenge. I write about this often only because I have experienced it and it has been trying at times – yet rewarding and now infectious enough to continue the journey to see (and experience) the unlimited surprises and gifts unfolding within me – and share with you.

I discovered a part of me that has been dormant. A creative and wise side which I would not have encountered if I didn’t take the time to slow down and explore this new territory of mine.

Like Yin and Yang, hot and cold, we have an innate physiological system that speeds us up or down depending on experiences in our daily lives. However, we are usually functioning at high speed throughout the day, for days, weeks, months, years … perhaps a lifetime.

Dr. Herbert Benson in his recent book, “The Relaxation Revolution” writes about how the stress response (fight or flight t) alters gene expression in our bodies which stimulated over long periods of time creates illness. What happens with long term stress is our bodies get accustomed to responding to stress and it becomes an automatic response on a daily basis while setting us up down the road for stress related illnesses.

Learning to initiate the relaxation response through meditation, yoga, etc. has the ability to break the stress cycle and alter gene expression to prevent certain illness …

At the same time, slowing down our thinking and what we choose to focus on has the same ability to break the “no time” syndrome to enjoy simple pleasures in life.

It’s as easy as sitting on a park bench, or in your back yard, on a beautiful day just for a few moments, breathing easy in a calm manner and just observing … letting go of random thoughts and focusing on your breathing and being mindful of where you are, what you see, and experience…

Two things happen when you do this:

You begin to train your body to respond in a different way by breaking the physiological stress response pattern in your body

You open a door to new, fresh thoughts, new ideas, insights that stimulate personal development, your intuition strengthens, and you tap into a whole other part of you that has been quiet, the part of you that has not been seen or experienced.