With life-long learning as my theme for retirement, I aim to keep abreast of new topics–or those that are new to me. My main source is MOOCS, massive open on-line courses that are free. When I saw a course on De-Mystifying Mindfulness listed on Coursera’s website, I signed up to learn whether the course matched my preconceived notions of the subject. The source of the course, Leiden University in the Netherlands, was another attraction. The body of learners was likely to include a substantial number from other countries, which should provide some unique viewpoints.
My off-the-cuff definition of mindfulness is a concept that promotes the study of consciousness though exercises that allow a person to focus inward and control the bombardment of thoughts that detract from concentration. In other words, meditation.
I began this year intending to learn how to meditate. For three consecutive days, I retreated to a quiet area in my home, closed my eyes, repeated a mantra to myself, and managed to be still for fifteen minutes. The last two days I opened my eyes after exactly fifteen minutes had passed, so if nothing else I’ve achieved an appreciation for the passage of time. I’ve also learned that the sitting positions I used were not comfortable after a few minutes. For reasons unknown, I sort of forgot about my intention to meditate on a daily basis.
The course on mindfulness reminded me that I could use a distressing technique, and I need to be reprogrammed from the multitasking that caused me to wonder if I’d developed ADD during my pre-retirement life as the sole attorney for a naval command. To get through a day, I juggled multiple projects, deadline dates, and recently learned names in the forefront of my mind. Which is why I believe work could, indeed, drive one crazy.
The prospect of uncluttering the jetsam of my brain that’s no longer necessary but washes ashore to haunt me (the dimensions of a Panamax vessel, updates for articles on the protection of personally identifiable information, case citations to support summary judgment motions) is irresistible. Perhaps I’ll be able to focus on one thing at a time and finally revise my memoir, redecorate my dining room, and consider purchasing a new vehicle. One…at…a…time. Or I may simply learn how to truly relax.