Looking for mindfulness? Who ya gonna call?
Try dialing M.
It's easy to be mindful. It's just hard to remember to be mindful. That's why it's so important to pick our triggers.
Here's a great trigger for mindfulness--the letter M. It's soothing to say: "Mmmmmmm." Add an H and you're thinking: "Hmmmmm." Add an O and you're chanting: "Ommmmmmm." It's hard to go wrong with M.
Okay, but in the course of your day, with all the M-words you hear, say and see, how can you possibly remember to be mindful each time? You can't. That's why you need to choose ONE M for your mindfulness trigger, and here's the perfect one: the McDonald's Golden Arches.
No, really. Think about it. You've already got your own ideas about McDonald's. Maybe you love McDonald's food. Maybe you appreciate the convenience of a drive-thru breakfast when you're on the road. Maybe you hate its corporate identity. Maybe you've seen "Super-Size Me" and all you can think about is poor Morgan Spurlock getting hypertension in his month-of-McDonald's-food experiment. Maybe you feel guilty that you like McDonald's food. Maybe you feel upset that you feel guilty.
Whether you love to hate McDonald's or hate to love it, those golden arches are a complex trigger. It's time for a little piggybacking--intentionally superimposing a new concept on an already loaded one.
Here's how it works: The first time each day that you see the McDonald's Golden Arches--the sign itself, the logo on a paper bag, an image on a television commercial--simply say, "I am mindful." That's it.
No need to spin your stories. You don't have to get involved in any mental arguments. There's no reason to get caught up in any emotion. Just use it as a trigger to be mindful.
By saying this phrase--"I am mindful"--you are actually starting a complex process in your brain. You are creating a powerful link to a visual image, and taking control of what it does for you. You are building a self-fulfilling prophecy--if you notice the golden arches, then you are indeed mindful.
Since being mindful is not something you normally associate with McDonald's, it serves as a sort of balancing mechanism. Because the only emotion associated with mindfulness is a calm sense of paying attention, you can strip McDonald's of its "good" and "bad" properties and just note it without judgment.
This is what mindfulness is all about. By picking a trigger that is ubiquitous, you are automatically giving yourself plenty of opportunities to include this brief mindful moment in your day.
You will find that you will begin to be mindful every time you see the Golden Arches. That might expand to other images of your choice--the Coca-Cola logo, the Disney logo, Starbucks, whatever. Choose something you can't avoid, and take advantage of it.
Take comfort in taking control of your mind.
Mmmmmm. I'm lovin' it.
Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse offering specialized mindfulness training in Portland, Oregon. She teaches eyes-wide-open ways to get calm, clear and creative. To subscribe to her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage, visit http://www.MassageYourMind.com