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Jeruba's avatar

Do you ever focus your complete attention on movements that you normally make automatically and unconsciously?

Asked by Jeruba (51894points) August 26th, 2017

You turn a doorknob and flip on a light switch. You push back a lock of your hair. You butter the toast, you twist off a cap, you walk across the room and open the refrigerator door. You turn your car into your driveway and park. You scratch an itch.

Unless you’re a student of Zen practice, you probably don’t think about these tiny, insignificant routine actions when you perform them. Or do you?

If you do, what do you think? Does your awareness change anything? Do you ever feel amazement and gratitude? Does consciousness impede you? Or do you just take it all for granted without a thought?


Tags as I wrote them: consciousness, awareness, Zen, mobility, motor skills, what we take for granted.

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9 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Breathing. As you are doing now.

JLeslie's avatar

At times I do.

What spurs it on typically, is someone commenting on a behavior of mine, and it might make me self analytic of not only that behavior, but others too. It’s fleeting though. I don’t get overly self critical or worried about it. It’s more me trying to really listen to what the other person is telling me.

Also, I think this next item is slightly different than what you’re getting at, but my little paranoias, like my curling iron setting fire to the house, or making sure a door is locked, the way I settle any worries is being very conscious of turning of the curling iron and licking the door.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I have, usually after a few days alone at sea, I find myself monitoring my body as there is nothing else to do at the moment. LOL. I count my blessings. But this can get to be just a bit too much if it goes on too long. Next thing you know, you begin wondering if that ache in the elbow is a sign of future crippling arthritis, or if that mole is cancerous, or that slight bout of indigestion last night was a sign of mild food poisoning and some of the stores belowdecks might be going bad. Shit that you most often can’t do anything about at the moment and are usually just products of boredom. I call it mindfucking. At this point, it’s not good, so I try to occupy myself with other things. I’ll go on the net and investigate something, anything, no matter how esoteric, obscure or irrelevant.

Also, I find introspection—a healthy thing most of the time—can be unhealthy when pursued too much. It can lead to depression. Artists and writers are notorious for this as it is an occupational hazard. I think it explains the bouts of depression many writers, actors and artists of all kinds have experienced throughout history. So, I’ll indulge into it a bit, but I try not to stay for very long. Once I find myself mindfucking again, I reach for something to get back to my exterior world. Even introspection can go bad on you.

canidmajor's avatar

Mostly I do this only if I am in pain and it requires me to do things with a hyper-mindfulness.
Sometimes if I have spent time with someone who is unable to do most of these things, I am vividly aware of my own abilities (deeply grateful for them).
And on occasion, I indulge in speculation, simply because I am curious about how many muscles are in use, or how the joints do their jobs exactly.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I scale a four story staircase every day for work, the kind that turns every flight in a spiral. I tend to run up stairs. I figured out it exacerbates a knee injury.

So now I have to carefully place my feet so I never twist my right knee on the way up. It reminds me of little kids getting off an escalator for the first time. I stare ahead and carefully plan each step.

Zaku's avatar

Yes, in meditation, in Focusing, and in Feldenkrais.

If you do, what do you think?
I think it’s a very important thing to do for mental and physical health and well-being. Developing and maintaining a practice of body awareness can make a huge difference in one’s life at all levels. In the book Focusing, it describes how the technique was developed by psychiatrists after studying which patients benefited for professional psychotherapy and which did not, which discovered that the patients who benefited were doing body awareness (and the extension of it described in that book, where suddenly there is an awareness of what a body sensation is about, and then it shifts or unravels).

Does your awareness change anything?
Yes. It relieves chronic pains and body problems, fatigue, moods, tension, and facilitates processing emotions and thoughts, etc. Feldenkrais aims (and succeeds) at making the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy graceful.

Do you ever feel amazement and gratitude?

Does consciousness impede you?
Sometimes, particularly in meditation, and when first developing a new practice.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^Yes. I had a nurse manager who taught a class in structured introspection therapy, aka “imagery”. It is a form of mantra-less meditation for patients or anyone with physical or mental problems. It’s kind of like having one foot in and one foot out of what transcendental meditation practitioners call “creative consciousness”. On top of their standard medical therapy, we would teach patients to visualize their malady as a kind of mechanical problem, then go in and repair it. We had some good results, especially with people with acute problems recovering in record time and addiction victims who were very serious about recovery.

I have some heart damage. I have a pretty good idea of what and exactly where that damage is from looking at MRIs and interpreting my EKGs. I regularly go in and make repairs. I also do all the other things, like remain active, exercise, keep a healthy diet and take a med to keep my blood pressure within normal limits. I also have sublingual nitro tabs and aspirin in a little metal vial hanging around my neck in case of angina. My prognosis has been lousy for twenty-five years, but I do things that surprise the hell out of my doctors. I’ve never experienced angina due to exertion, which also surprises them. I’ve taken the nitro maybe four times in the last twenty years, as a precaution during those few moments of spontaneous angina—which very well could have been indigestion for all I know. I attribute my ability to maintaining a normal, strenuous life for the past twenty years to this technique of structured introspection.

But what’s the test on that? LOL. I don’t really care. It beats the alternative.

cookieman's avatar

I tend to be mindful of everyday motions at night, when everyone else is asleep. In my efforts to be as quiet as possible, and not wake anybody up, I move purposely and slowly. I’ve made it kind of a game for myself.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Some of the responses above hit home. One that hasn’t been mentioned is when in another country, or even culture, such as a friend’s home.

When spending time in the U.K. with the SO, I’m exhausted by the end of the day from focusing on these minute differences and attempting to imitate them, or at minimum, not do anything that might be construed as off or offensive.

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