Monday, May 23, 2011

All You've Got to Do Is Pay Attention to the GREEN DOTS

By Judi England

Staying focused on what’s in front of me can be a real challenge sometimes.

Don’t know about you but there’s times when so much has been clamoring for my attention that by day’s end I can barely remember what I ate for lunch, or if, in fact I ever ate lunch. And how about it, did you ever get so wrapped up in thought while driving that you weren’t sure if you missed your exit or not? There’s times when the pictures in my head are so absorbing that I can’t see what’s right in front of me.

All of this is the antithesis of mindfulness as defined by a favorite teacher and author, Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“Mindfulness =Paying attention in a particular way: On purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”

And, I’ve got a meditation practice. Imagine that…

But I’ve got a little technique I’d like to share with you. It’s simple, quick to learn and you don’t have to be a yogi or a meditator to have it work for you. A quick trip to the office supply store, a few instructions, and you’re good to go.

It’s called “Little Green Dots”, and for years now I’ve been sharing it’s magic with my students and clients.

So here’s what you do:

  1. Decide if you could benefit from a booster dose of Mindfulness.
  2. Take that intention to the local office supply or stationary store and pick up a package of very small, self-stick dots. Here’s a picture of what mine look like. As you can see, they’re not all green – doesn’t matter – blue, red, or yellow work equally well.

  1. You’re going to wind up with lots and lots of dots in a package so you will want to share some dots with your friend and family, paperboy or toll taker – anyone who’d like to be more mindful.
  2. Place a dot in about 6-8 places where you’ll see them during your day. This, in itself, is an exercise in mindfulness. Usually when we do this exercise as part of a meditation class I hand out the dots and directions one week and give no suggestions about where to place the dots. Getting back together the following week, people share their experiences, including their choice of dot locations. Sometimes it’s pretty predictable: phone, computer screen, car dashboard, refrigerator, wrist watch. Other times it’s hilarious. One woman put one on her 2 year-old’s forehead!
  3. Here’s the directions, verbatum, as I give them along with the dots:


Each time you see a DOT – Take a breath – Ask

yourself what you are feeling, thinking and

experiencing in this very moment. Take another

breath – return to what you were doing in a more

Mindful way.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t take very long to do this “check in” with yourself. Like all self-discovery experiments, the results can be quite powerful. There much to learn about how we can miss the life that’s happening right here, right now.

If you care to try “Little Green Dots”, I’d love to hear about your experience. If nothing else, it will make everyone around you wonder what you’re up to. Wouldn’t it be funny if so many readers did this that we started seeing other people’s dots? I guess stranger things have happened.

Writer Judi England, RN, is a massage therapist and yoga instructor. This piece appeared first in the blog she keeps for the Albany Times Union, called Holistic Health.

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