Tag Archives: mindful zone

Two for the Price of One: Mindful Meditation & Memoir


Sculpture by Ron Mueck – Drift, 2009

I’ve realised that sometimes you can effectively do two things at once and succeed at both

Research is increasingly revealing that multi-tasking isn’t necessarily the way to go, but here’s something that can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and apologies to the birds – who would ever think to do such a thing?  Not us grasshoppers.

The two things allow you to calm down, meditate on specific things, and create memoir if you choose to do so.

A Few More Blinks

An Adventure in the Mindless Zone and How Habit can Become Your Enemy or Your Faithful Friend


These 2 gadgets are so alike, they’re almost twins, right?  Right?

This morning, fellow grasshoppers – and in my defence I must point out that it was before breakfast – I single-handedly engineered the briefest of entertainments from the Mindless Zone.  And I’m betting that, like me, you do something similar quite regularly, too.  Can we learn something from it?  Only future moments will tell.

The Mindless Habit Scenario.  Lola and I go for a walk most mornings, and I’ve developed the habit of slinging my camera in its bag over my shoulder and taking it with me, after once spectacularly failing to capture some fabulous shots of ducks (a mother and her duckling – irresistible, n’est pas?) under my favourite tree in the park.  Annie Leibowitz would not have missed these shots.

During today’s morning walk, Lola snapped off a few shots with her compact and, in the end, I didn’t use my camera at all.

Later.  The Mindless Habit – Exposed.  After breakfast every day, I do an exercise routine and use my mobile phone’s timer to count down the sets.  This morning, I couldn’t find the phone in its usual spot on the table in the back room, so I went to the kitchen.  No phone.  Back to the usual spot. No phone.

Unusual spots.  You guess it – nada.  Phone missing, no visible signs of burglary by felons unknown, or lip-smacking consumption by felines known to the household.  I can’t call the phone because it’s turned off.

Next.  Worry for a while and wonder about grey matter turning into blanc mange.  Worry further and fling papers about, re-check all suspect places.

Note presence of camera on table in back room where phone normally lives.  Developing sense of panic interrupted by slow realisation.

The Mindless Zone Strikes.

How did my camera remove itself from its bag – left on the kitchen bench after our walk – and travel from there to the study?  Poltergeist?  Pack cat? Our Dotty always looks suspicious, but no, she has no interest in gadget theft, only food.  Pack rat?  None we know of, and surely they prefer real chips not digital ones.

I step lively to the kitchen, grab my camera bag and find the answer.  The camera never left the house.  The phone nestles inside where I placed it this morning as I proceeded to gather myself together for our walk.

I don’t remember a thing about the event itself – the bagging of the phone and not the camera – because I was travelling in the vague territory that is the Mindless Zone, where phones and cameras sitting close together appear indistinguishable from each other, and because the Mindless Zone creates Mindless Eyes, and Mindless Eyes might as well be wearing a blindfold.  The Mindless Zone also creates Mindless Hands, and Mindless Hands might as well be wearing Antarctic gloves for all the sensitivity they contain.

Habit can be efficient and useful, and it can be mindless and ridiculous.  the results depend, of course, on whether we’re travelling in the Mindless or the Mindful Zone.

A Mindful, Habitual Answer

The third time I locked my keys in the car because I was zooming along in the Mindless Zone, I taught myself the new habit  of taking those keys out of the ignition with Mindful Hands and looking at them with Mindful Eyes before exiting the car and locking the door in the Mindful Zone.  (I haven’t called the auto club since).

I’ll try that with my camera and phone.  Of course, travelling at my own pace and getting ready the night before has much to recommend it, too.

Which one do you prefer?  Why not do both – with a belt and braces you can’t go wrong, and you’ll be living in the now where the only and the very best memoir happens.

Remember: Memoir = Life = Now


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Which Words Will Inspire You in 2011



This is a detail from a work by Rosalie Gascoigne called Lamp Lit (1989)

Which words, attitudes and approaches will you take with you into 2011?  Will they be useful or will they cause difficulties as you go about your mindful moments?  Here are a few that I want to use more often, in no particular order:














Why not add your own to the list?  Think about each one for a few minutes and how you can make it a part of your life.  Make a mindmap, or simply write down connections that apply in your life to each word or idea – people, events, situations in which these words, attitudes and approaches may be most helpful.

You can see where we’re going with this, can’t you?

It’s all about the quality of the light in our lives.

While we’re at it, how about a few pithy quotations to guide and help us.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives – it is the one that is most adaptable to change – Charles Darwin

It always seems impossible until its done – Nelson Mandela

Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace – Amelia Earhart

The way to heal myself of almost anything is to be alone long enough – Kate Llewellyn, author

Less is more – Jan McKemmish, author, friend and mentor

Enjoy your Mindful Zone, Grasshoppers.

Resolution? Isn’t that something to with your Computer Screen?



Resolutions are like snowstorms in the northern hemisphere and floods in the southern at the moment – they’re everywhere.  And like snowstorms and floods, they’re treacherous, dangerous and indiscriminate about who they harm and how they do it.

Resolutions are, to a resolve, to be viewed with caution while holding a sturdy club of some kind behind your back.

Which brings us to:

Tip Number 1:

Always be ready to defend yourself against a resolutionary guerilla attack, especially at this time of year.

A Case in Point, Part 1: I had the best of intentions yesterday regarding my resolutions.  And the day before yesterday as it happens.  Two very significant days for those of us who take such things seriously: the last day of the old year and the first of the new.

I definitely had resolutions on the boil.  I was caught up in the hustle of the moment but I wasn’t in the moment.  As a result, I fell out of the Mindful Zone, a victim of the resolution guerillas, who point us towards …

Tip Number 2:

Do not project yourself into the future, but rather remain here in the present moment.  Take a deep breath, hold for a count of three – one, two, three – exhale, and then, boil the kettle and make a beverage of your choice.  Sit quietly with the beverage, breathe, and sip in the Mindful Zone.

A Case in Point, Part 2:

Mindmaps, vision boards, brainstorming, inspiration  from people with clearly superior resolve, exhortations from every media source ever invented – I had them all and then … then, my beloved PC, Nostromo, began a menacing beep on startup, and I suspected then that he might not make it to the new year.

There had been warnings, of course, there often are in the leadup to potential disaster: frozen screens, shivering and occasionally frozen mice, blank screens, and blank looks (these mostly from my cat, Dotty), unaccountable shutdowns (rather like those fly-by-cyber-night online fraudsters), a pervasive sulkiness, and a resentful reluctance to load pages.

For a happy few delusional hours, I thought Nostromo would make it with me into the new year and beyond, but … we arrived instead at:

Tip Number 3: No amount of planning can protect you from the unpredictable, so when change arrives, scare the pants off it by embracing, rather than avoiding it.

A Case in Point, Part 3: Before Nostromo sailed into the heart of digital darkness forever, I returned to the Mindful Zone and applied the mindmaps, vision boards, brainstorming, inspiration and exhortations to finding a new PC at a reasonable price from a reputable seller.

His name is Julius (the PC, not the seller – that’s Nick), and, after a small altercation with a pesky DirectX control (okay – so I didn’t read the fine print on the Sony PMB installation disc), he sits upon my desktop behaving like a – well, a perfect desktop PC. 

Nostromo booted up one more time on New Year’s day to allow transfers of precious files and bookmarks – thank you, Nostromo, for years of mostly loyal and occasionally narky service.

Between them, Nostromo and Julius nobbled the resolutionary guerillas and stopped them in their temporal tracks.  They brought me back to the moment.  Which is why The Memoir Detective’s next post will be all about how to remain resolute in 2011: Our Year in the Magical Mindful Zone.  I hope you’ll join me.

Happy New Year, Grasshoppers

PS  Julius, my new PC, is named after Professor Julius Sumner Miller, a scientist who presented a program on Australian TV when I was a kid.  The show was called “Why is it So?”  Professor Miller stood in front of a blackboard and demonstrated the glorious wonders of physics and maths and other amazing scientific-y subjects.  I had little aptitude for science but many of us watched because Professor Miller was so entertaining and full of passion for his subject.  He’s a hero of my childhood.  Nostromo was named after the spaceship in the movie, “Alien,” which in turn was named after the actual marine vessel Nostromo in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”.  Considering Nostromo’s recent demise, enough said.


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How to Keep Faith with your New Year’s Resolutions with One Powerful Technique



Here at the tail-end of the Western calendar year, countless numbers of people with good intentions make New Year’s Resolutions, and countless numbers of us fail to keep them, usually after day 1, New Year’s Day.

So today, several days before THE DAY, I want to share with you one very powerful technique that will keep you on the road to RH (Resolution Heaven).

But first, a little history that most of us probably share.

Day 1, New Year’s Day.  Sometimes, RF (Resolution Failure) happens on the day itself, by about 3 in the afternoon, when your energy is down and your ability to focus is lower than my cat, Dotty’s interest in having her own gym membership.

Just one teensy little puff at the – you guessed it – tail-end of a phenomenally draining day laden with so much portent, intent, and latent anxiety.

Week 1.  Sometimes, it happens within a few days or a week – you begin with all kinds of jittery, energetic motivation for your resolutions, but you can’t keep it up because these new activities, these new approaches to old problems bear little, or worse, no resemblance to anything you’ve experienced before.

You don’t even have habit to fall back on.  How could you when you haven’t been doing this new thing for even as long as Dory’s short-term memory.

So you fall back, all right, on old habits, old, bad, comforting habits … aaahhh … just the one slice of vintage Cracker Barrel, darling; a single, weeny cube of caramello (attached to the rest of the Family Block); it’s about to rain – we’ll walk tomorrow, Scarlett.

Perhaps you join the gym and attend several sessions in succession (try saying that when you’re full of muesli and soy milk), and by Thursday you’re buggered and you’ve gained weight (it’s the pesky muscles that weigh more than fat, apparently – I didn’t stick around long enough for the trainer to explain 20 years ago).

You get the picture, don’t you, grasshopper.  After a while, maybe a week or two, or even a month for the holdouts, the energy and focus dissipate and drain away.  The hour is lost, or rather, that day, THE DAY on which we were going to change forever, is lost – again, for another year at least and, miserably, we return to our usual form, with regret and a truckload of disappointment.

We’ve managed to snatch cheesy, chocolaty, sedentary RF defeat from the well-toned, perfectly-aligned jaws of RH victory.

However.  (There’s always a however).

The solution to all this clutter and chaos of perceived failure, is The Mindful Zone.

How?  In The Mindful Zone, New Year’s Day, THE DAY, doesn’t matter, because every day is THE DAY, every moment is THE MOMENT.

Too often, we place incredible pressure on ourselves to begin anew at a special time, and too often this is an imposition from without rather than from within.  It may work for some of us, but for most of us, its meaning is superficial, and therefore, short-lived.

You can change at any moment by deliberately changing your thoughts and actions, your habits and routines, by being mindful of the moments that make up your life, and by making a commitment to those moments.  It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.

And it’s flexible as well – every moment is a new moment, ready and willing to help us here and now.  Forget about New Year’s Day, begin now, get ahead of everyone and you’ll be developing a new habit by the time THE DAY dawns.

Try this if you want to make walking (or running) a more frequent part of your healthy life: when you wake up in the morning (shiftworkers adjust accordingly), enjoy those moments of returning to this level of consciousness by taking a deep breath and stretching your entire body and, as you do so, slowly rise to a sitting position – you’re up.

Commit yourself to do this every day for just one week, because once you’re up, you’re up for anything, including walking, running, meditating, writing, reading, cooking, anything as you breathe in and breathe out in The Mindful Zone.

After just one week, take a moment to commit to another week, and find yourself in the orbit of Resolution Heaven.

Remember, Grasshopper – any day can be THE DAY: the day of the week on which

  • you were born
  • you discovered the brilliance of Anne Tyler’s novels
  • you took a perfect photo of a rain droplet (this morning, actually)
  • you knew you could do without red meat until the 12th of forever
  • the sun rises and sets
  • you declutter your life, discover your truth, and create your legacy as The Memoir Detective

The Mindful Zone is the only place to Be

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How Snail’s Pace Wins The Race – The Mindful Zone of the Memoir Mind



Are you the kind of person who travels best at a particular speed as you move through your days?  I know I am.  I think most of us are – whether or not we recognise it as such, our particular speed is there.

There may be a little wriggle room either side – slightly faster, slightly slower, depending on the time, circumstances, degree of perceived urgency – but you find that, at a certain rhythm, at a certain pace, you hit your straps, and all is well.  The sun, moon and stars smile upon you and accidents are rare.

Like the snail in the picture, you travel the way you’re built to travel, physically and mentally.

Let’s call it the Mindful Zone,  because you’re a Gershwin baby: you’ve got rhythm, you’ve got music, you’ve got your house in fine order.

It’s a little like the concept of flow, described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.  But rather than a state of rapture, or the sort of focus attributed to the artist Michelangelo, an extreme example of flow – days of total focus on, and absorption in his art to the exclusion of sleep, food and breaks – I’m interested in the everyday rhythms and speeds of our daily lives – a couple of the elements that contribute to flow.

Your Mindful Zone may equate to a waltz in its timing, a two-step, a tango, a polka, or a salsa, a foxtrot or a cakewalk.  It doesn’t matter which, as long as it gets you through the dance card that makes up your day.

Outside your Mindful Zone, however, too far above or beneath your optimum rhythm and speed, beyond the wriggle room, bad things tend to happen:

  • You slice your finger cutting the vegies too fast with a new knife
  • You jump the gutter backing out of the driveway in a hurry, and you’ve already projected yourself to your destination
  • You forget to buy stamps at the post office because you were running late for the termite inspection
  • You flip the omelette onto the hotplate instead of the dinner plate because it’s way past dinner time and the omelette was supposed to be the easy option
  • Or you flip the omelette onto the hotplate because you contemplate the required wrist flick and pan turn for far too long; you visualise the MasterChef doing it the other night in slo-mo and you overthink it
  • You put the milk in the pantry and the crackers in the freezer because you’re distracted, by something, anything.
  • You think you should keep pace with your partner, offspring, sibling, parent, anyone else who isn’t you.

These are symptoms of the Mindless Zone and it’s a scary place.

At its worst, the Mindless Zone can be tragic, or fatal: after jumping the gutter and bottoming out, that car’s driver my go on to encounter only a bingle, or something far less savoury and entirely life-changing.

The Mindless Zone is like the Twilight Zone, except that you’re here, now – and that’s the answerHere and Now. The Mindful Zone.

You instinctively know your own pace – your best rhythm and speed, your unique time signature: waltz, samba, cossack kicks, do-si-do.  Feel for it, listen to it.  Be here, now.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.  Was the fox jumping within its Mindful Zone?  Were the dogs simply enjoying their Mindful rather than Lazy Zone?  Only they can tell.  Only you can tell when you’ve discovered this truth and become a Gershwin baby in the Mindful Zone of the *Memoir Mind.

So hasten slowly like the snail and find the time signature that is your Mindful Zone.

*Memoir Mind – a state of mind in which you are calmly aware, from moment to moment, of your life and thoughts.  In this state of mind, you are able to see things from a different perspective.  You may be in a position to begin decluttering, discovering some important truths, and creating your legacy.

Memoir mind: a state of calm excitement.

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