Rarely do we bring our attention to the actual experience of what we are doing. Most of the time we are thinking about something else when we are moving, most of the time what we are thinking is something we’ve thought before, probably many times, and more often than not, the act if thinking about it is increasing the stress we feel.
Once we have set an intention and begun to act there is really nothing else to think about other than noticing what we do and adjusting – but that requires little actual thinking. At the same time, if we don’t put our awareness somewhere, it will probably fall back into these old patterns of thinking.
The best use of awareness is to experience what we are actually doing. Right now, do something simple, like pick up a cup and take a sip, or scratch your head, or walk over and turn on a light. Notice your experience of moving – release any thoughts that intrude, don’t follow them. Let your attention be with your experience of moving – your feet changing pressure on the floor, your hips and legs, how your abdomen moves or is carried along, the pressure on what you are sitting on, your arms and chest and back, how your head subtly moves as you do whatever you are doing.
My guess is that was different than your normal experience. What is it like to notice what you are doing? Many find it intriguing, if not enjoyable. The blizzard of thoughts may not have subsided yet, but they will the more you practice this.
This is basically what all the current hoo-hah about Mindfulness is about – bringing your attention to your actual sensory experience of doing whatever you are doing. The reason there is so much hoo-hah is that it really does, oddly, calm you down, decrease stress and pain, and you do whatever you are doing better.
Doing whatever you do with awareness makes you happier. Pretty weird idea, but it’s relatively easy so you may as well try it out.
There are many forms that teach bringing awareness to what we do – meditation, yoga, pilates, tai chi, and Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons are a few. But the best place to practice moving with awareness is Whatever You are Doing.
Whatever you do, when you’ve done all that can be done with thinking about it (which most often isn’t much more than deciding where and how to start), bring your attention to your experience of doing it, to the feeling of moving. While picking up the cup and taking a sip, scratching your head, walking over to turn on a light, working out, driving to work, turning on the computer, answering text’s and emails, talking to a friend or someone where you work – whatever you do, experience the movement of it, in detail.
You will not only find that you move better and do whatever you do more skillfully, but that you enjoy the doing of it, and the respite from the mostly fruitless, and constant, thinking. It’s really simple, just experience what you do as you do it.