Mindfulness and the workshop

Circle around various corporate entities, and you’ll find the term “Mindfulness” cropping up more and more, as the latest trend takes increasing hold.

Now I say that in somewhat irreverent terms, but without any real intent.

I am not really on strong terms with mindfulness yet, there are many long courses all about it, but what strikes me early, is this concept of being in the moment.

Many of us drive to work each day, and yet can’t remember how we actually got there. We are walking around the house, put down our keys, and cannot remember for the life of us where they are a little later on.

These (and many others) are perfect examples of taking actions without being mindful.  Being in the moment, actually tasting the food we are eating, focusing on the activity, being particularly aware of what we are doing, not just going through the motions without concentration, without being mindful.

It got me thinking about the shed.  Some of what we do out there is without real thought – cleaning up for example, yet daydreaming (or just not concentrating).  Yet a lot of what we do, especially while working in the shed had better be very mindful, or you might find yourself fingerless, or worse.

To turn that around, I find that the shed activities really do focus the mind.  You cannot have random thoughts bubble up and become a distraction, and the activities really allow you to concentrate intensely on the task at hand.  It is like a form of meditation, and why I find I feel really refreshed after a good session out in the workshop.  Better than sitting around with your eyes closed, focusing on breathing and saying “Om”!

When I am shaping wood, solving design questions, cutting, planing, joining, gluing, polishing, there is no room for abstract thoughts, distracting thoughts, and problems at work and other stressors do not get a look in.

That is not always the case unfortunately. When having an unsuccessful day, it either allows an opportunity for these external pressures to creep in, or it is because those external pressures have been there all along, and not shut down enough to allow a successful day.

The next time I am having a bit of a bad shed day, I’m going to focus a bit more on why – am I being distracted by thoughts, or just me having a bad woodworking day.  Of course, like the golf saying goes, a bad day in the shed is still better than the best day at work!

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