Experience a Daily Monk Mode to develop mindfulness

Maybe it’s time to plan for a daily or weekly Monk Mode

Friday, November 15, 2013

Life can be frustrating when we are frequently interrupted by obligations and trivial communications coming from popular media and our mobile devices. The creative magic of our brains can get obstructed by diversions and obligations, maybe at the exact time when you are about to put the pieces together to achieve a breakthrough, or at least progress, with the project, puzzle or problem that is challenging you at the moment.

Soon after telephones were installed in an expansive farming community, one wise farmer became known for not answering his phone. One day, the locals were gathered at the feed and grain, discussing recent events. The technology resistant neighbor entered, and was asked, “Zeb, does your phone work? You never answer it.” to which he replied, “That device is for my convenience, not yours.….”

People have not controlled delivery of information since messengers delivered scrolls; we have been answering the phone since the 1900’s. The decision is how and when we choose to respond. In my home, we regularly ignore the phone at mealtime (as discussed in my book 4015 days) because what we are doing (focusing on togetherness) is more important than responding immediately.

 Would the quality of your life, relationships, and personal productivity go up, and your stress go down, if you had more uninterrupted, peaceful time and space to really reflect, plan, strategize and organize new ideas and solutions? Am I the only one wishing for more time to think, read a book, draw, reflect, ponder, do breath count and create?

Remember the story of the wise farmer my Mom told me. We have seen old style work environments with hallways or offices evolve into cubicles. Cubicles have evolved into open/shared/collaborative space. Before computers, some office floors were designed with a typing pool, surrounded by offices. Yet most university, medical, managerial, legal, financial, political, and other professionals, still maintain their own office, as they have for many years.

Maybe it’s time to plan for a daily or weekly Monk Mode, choosing to shut out the world for a defined period of time, then sticking to the schedule.

You will have to find, or define, a room, studio, tent, or natural space, then commit to turning off electronic devices. You may not be able to maintain Monk Mode for long in the beginning, as the call of the wired world will be pushing you to respond. You may begin by parking, then turning off your car in a peaceful place, and putting your devices in the trunk on silent mode.

Especially in the beginning, sit with a bound 100 page composition book, a pen, water and something to look at, like a flower, favorite picture, water sculpture, shell or a piece of fruit. On the cover name one side something like dreams and Ideas. Then turn the book over and write something like Things to do, obligations, worries and unfinished projects. This one journal will be a tangible balance of what you wish to create, and what is cluttering your mental space.

Write down what comes into your mind, creative or demanding, spontaneous hopes or long struggles, impossible dreams and undeniable truths. You are beginning to let your mind share with you all the obligation, responsibility, creativity and stress you have accumulated. As you write these thoughts and ideas down you may experience a sense of peacefulness and clarity, since the free floating thoughts are being made real on the printed page.

This double sided journal is the beginning of a personal clarification, reflection and prioritizing of your life goals and challenges. You will soon find time to begin another composition book with a project you have longed to begin, or complete. As you begin to write, on paper or electronically, you will see the strength of your creative mind when it is unencumbered with interruptions. Some people may prefer to record their voice, or use voice to text software, like naturally Speaking. The process of giving your thoughts a physical existence should not be restricted to a particular medium or impaired by a personal limitation.

Consider turning your mobile device to silent/ no vibrate, and see how long you can go without looking for an update or missed call. Some people have experienced this disconnect dining with friends, playing the Stacking Game with their devices. Don’t do this, obviously, if you have to be available for work, or you may end up with lots of time to be alone. Maybe you can set your work number to a dedicated ring tone.

Make a commitment to go into Monk mode on a regular basis, and see how you experience this time as you begin to organize and cultivate your thoughts, obligations and creative inspirations. Schedule Monk Mode in your appointment book, then complete the time commitment. If you feel the need to cancel a Monk Mode, consider honestly the reason for canceling. Is the intruding activity really more important, and when will you make up the time you owe yourself, and your future? Many people made a commitment to learning through higher education, which helped them attain professional success. What keeps us from investing in ourselves in the present?

Do you want to tell people you are going into monk mode? Probably not necessary for under 3 hours when you are not obligated to be consistently available at work, or on your personal time. If you get frequent emails and text, you may decide to change your auto-reply and/or voice mail to something like, I will be unavailable today from 2-6pm or, I will return calls today from 9-10am, then 3-4pm. I appreciate your patient understanding. Maybe you will give a little hint by adding, Participating in a team building strategy and planning exercise or, Scheduled with clients until 11am every morning.

Make the commitment to enter Monk Mode, then find the strength to remain.

Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved

David Carr is a full time, Berkshire Hathaway REALTOR   residing in Southern Connecticut. Mr Carr finds time to write about being a Dad (4015 days/smashwords.com) and advocates for sustainable energy practices (newengland.eco-smart.com). Contact me via any of my sites, or call  203-877-2704 x440826.