Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Shaving as mindful practice

I've recently got into double edge, or "DE" shaving, the old-style razors with a single blade.  They were popular in the 40's to 80's until the modern cartridge razor and electric razor became the norm.

Shaving with a DE razor is a skill, it's not easily won.  Like many things in life, you have to learn and practice it before you can become proficient.  The whole thing about it, the draw or allure of it, seems to be that you need to go through this whole "ritual" of preparing, shaving properly and then closing the shave off.  It's not something you rush through, but rather something that you savour.  Csíkszentmihályi (1975) described this as "flow".

This got me thinking, is the reason why we struggle with the modern world?  Is it because we're not really engaging with it fully?  These days, there seems to be too many interruptions and "notifications" to deal with, even if they're not urgent or important.

During the process of shaving, I'm in the moment.  The razor is lethally sharp, it hurts for some time if you don't do it right and therefore it's just basically too scary not to be fully focussed on what you're doing.  Having said that, it's really enjoyable to be lost in the experience.  It's not at all like normal shaving - despite being scary, this is actually enjoyable.  I'm fully engaged with what I'm doing for the whole time.  Now this could just be a bit of a novelty, but I've been doing this for a while now and I'm still getting enjoyment out of it.

I've moved around this model from the 9'o'clock position to the 1'o'clock position and I recognise that this described my journey well.  I'm not too sure about the arousal bit, but I did have a fairly fulfilling shaving kit spending spree a while ago!!

All this made me think about other things where I carried out the process mindfully.

There are so many things that we do in life and we're also doing other things in the background (or more likely the foreground).  We're on that conference call while checking e-mails (I actually know one guy who will go off and make a brew while he's on calls, and he's on a desk phone, not a mobile!!).  So many times I'm doing one thing and without thinking, I find myself on something else.  There's no focus anymore and I don't think that is good for us.

There are only really a few times that I'm truly in the moment:  Motorbiking, Running, Shaving.  The rest of the time, there's a whole host of other stuff going on.  I suppose that even while running I'm mulling things over in my head, assessing and analysing, so maybe that doesn't count.  Perhaps this is why Tony Buzan said "never train with music on" - you're too distracted and then you're not in the zone.  (It could also just be because you can't hear cars coming up behind you and you get knocked over)

With the other stuff, I'm totally in the zone because I have to be.  I used to be quite into making coffee and that was the same sort of practice.  There's a process you go through there too, warming the jug for the milk, spooning out the coffee, tamping it down, etc.  It's very rewarding to get a good result.

No comments:

Post a Comment