A variety of influences lately have pointed me towards trying to live my life more mindfully. First, this is a point hit upon repeatedly by Robert Boice in his book Advice for New Faculty Members. Boice’s approach is strictly secular, but he believes that mindfulness is necessary to the success of young faculty. He has quite a lot of research to back that up, too.
Second, I have just recently started adapting David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology to manage my time. Allen says that the ultimate goal of his methodology is to have a “mind like water.” This is (according to Allen) a martial arts saying referring to the fact that water responds perfectly to anything thrown into it. It does not overreact or underreact; it responds exactly appropriately to its circumstances. Another way of looking at this (and I think Allen uses this word too) is that the goal is to be mindful in ones work and life, always responding appropriately to our circumstances. (For many years I have tried to apply Steven Covey’s methods. Although I learned a lot from Covey, Allen’s methods seem to work better for me so far.) Allen’s mindfulness is also strictly secular.
Finally, I encountered the weblog Unlearned Hand. The author of this weblog, a law student, is also a student of Zen Buddhism. He tries to use Saturday as a “Day of Mindfulness” and often posts a weblog entry related to Zen Buddhism on that day of the week. Although I had encountered “mindfulness” in the other two contexts above, Unlearned Hand’s entry on A Day of Mindfulness, from The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh really brought it home for me.
Although I’m not a Buddhist and I have no plans to become one, it is amazing what one can learn from those on other paths. How’s that for a bit of a different weblog entry?