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One Thing At A Time…


Two weekends ago I did a mini, at-home, mindfulness thing.  I made Saturday, from first arising to early evening, my ‘do one thing at a time, thoroughly, to completion’ day.  I turned off all electronics–TV, computer, I-phone, Kindle–and didn’t plan to answer the door or respond to any outside distractions.  (I did plan to respond to my smoke alarm.)

It was a unique experience.  And not at all what I imagined or envisioned.  I was pulled, over and over and over, by one shiny idea after another to stop what I was doing and do something else–ten times, twenty times, in one 5 minute period–for around 13 hours.  Just being with how it felt to bring myself back to the present without following the cravings–to pick up, wash, graze, straighten, turn on, call, check, paint (my nails)–was an epiphany.

I get it!  I no longer wonder why I feel overwhelmed and muddy and confused sometimes.  I have spent tremendous blocks of time chasing my life, or my tail, or someone else’s tail.  When I become a human doing without any awareness that I’ve left myself, the human being is lost…lost.

I completed lots and lots of small projects.  Probably accomplished more, with less effort, than I’ve ever accomplished in my life.  So it wasn’t a day of observing my navel.  Purged books and clothes and cleaned and removed ‘stuff’ that had no meaning or purpose in my life.  I did meditate, both sitting and walking, once each.  That was it.  The rest of the day was one project, one meal, one experience after another.

By the end of the day i felt CLEAR…and somehow COMPLETE.  I’m not kidding myself.  I know I won’t live out all my future days in blissful presence.  Only a robot or a mechanical object can replicate or repeat the same experience over and over.  What I am putting my attention on is the idea of getting better at doing one thing at a time more often. I’ve put a couple things in place to support that intention and help me remember.

From my experiment I think I’m a tad better at being present with whatever shows up–thoughts, sensations, cravings, longings, frustrations, resentments–without responding to them as though they’re my masters or all-knowing guides or even calls to action.  They’re simply information that my mind is a thought machine to which my heart and body respond.   It’s up to me to be present enough to notice if the thoughts or feelings or sensations are something I choose to act upon.   (I know you’re not supposed to end with a preposition but switching it around sounded stuffy.)

Would love to hear if any of you have had the same experiences with a mind that resembles mine.  A mind that has led you around by the nose for years, without you ever really knowing that you could do something about it, or possibly use it to serve you better.


  1. Cathy Dempesy says:

    It was only in the past few months that I have realized (through having it pointed out to me) how stimulus bound I really am. I have discovered that I get very little from my own “to do” list accomplished when in the office. I am at work all day and come home at night to get my work done. Something is way out of whack with that. Some of it is the secretary and people “stopping by” the office….what I hope to do is to politely ask my secretary, and others, to “give me a moment,” while I complete whatever it is I’m doing when they appear at my door. A challenge, indeed! Thanks for bringing this up!

    • robyn1001 says:

      Hi Cathy. Love how you’re looking at this–no hard and fast rules, just setting intention to be more mindful in the moment, and then asking for what you want. Feels peaceful…Robyn

  2. Lisa says:

    Wow! Perfect timing as I gear up for starting back to work. I, like Cathy , find that I end up bringing work home or even going to work on the weekends, for similar reasons. So, how do I monitor my list and stay warm with others is my big question.
    Also, the electronics part is interesting. I am discovering that they tend to get in the way of my list. Mindless activities that often steal the time away. Great food for thought!

    • robyn1001 says:

      Great questions Lisa. I’m starting to think the questions are way more important than finding ‘the’ answer. Yes, food for thought–not a problem to be solved with one right answer. Thanks! Robyn

  3. Mark says:

    Electronics is my downfall! I love the idea of banning myself from electronics for a day… I can only imagine how much of my personal “to do” list I could complete, one thing at a time! Thanks for the thought Robyn, now to just give it a try 🙂

    • robyn1001 says:

      That’s what’s so cool–you don’t need 13 hours–you can do it just as you said, one thing at a time! Robyn

  4. Dick says:

    Robyn, I am actually doing what you tried, starting today, Wednesday, August 15, 2012. You are my witness.

    I am “clearing” my desk. This consists of many ideas, projects, bills, files on “important” projects, post it notes, basket of baubles, key board and monitor, hole punch, emptied pockets, water jug, stapler, rolodex (can you believe I still have…and use one?), and my little friend, a tiny stuffed gorilla (still to be named…suggestions anyone?)

    My standard M.O., that I shall follow today, is to address each pile, or portion, in 15 minute increments. This makes it seem less overwhelming, as I can picture doing anything for 15 minutes. This often goes over time, but I stop when I want to.

    I strive (? what is wrong with that verb, makes me tense just saying it) to relax, and just start, and let the day progress, one moment at a time. It becomes a time for reflection, correction, and uncluttering my spirit. This sounds like what you felt.

    I realize I need to do this regularly (daily/weekly, for 15 minutes, might prevent the need for hours later), and keep my spirit, mind, emotions unencumbered by disorder and the noise of accumulating “stuff.”
    (I justify accumulation as proof of the “Chaos Theory”).

    Recounting your experience has encouraged me to accept, relax, release, and enjoy each moment. I may even discover a “hidden” treasure.

    • robyn1001 says:

      Hey Dick, I love that you caught yourself–striving to relax is the perfect oxymoron for most of us these days! Good luck! Love, Robyn

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