This week I decided to explore mindfulness and challenged myself to work with qualitative data. I discarded the results from the first day, in which I used my Fitbit watch to measure heartbeat changes during 2-min of guided deep breathing. I had also started by tracking any distractions with the aim of being in a state of presence, which is the approach Lupi and Posavec take; by the end of the first day, I realised thoughts and being distracted are part of the assemblage of the present moment as Rumi suggests and therefore could not only be aware of thoughts as they arise but to take an impartial third-person witness perspective on what arises, seeing observer-observed as one non-dual entity. I changed my approach to becoming an observer of what-is rather than a meditation practitioner trying to be present and noticed an improved depth of presence in the meditation; the focus became less on measurables and more on qualitative observation. There were two types of meditations I engaged in on a daily basis:
- Scheduled: The first a formal 20min guided practice at the beginning of each day. I had tried various teachers including J Kabat Zinn, Eckhart Tolle but decided to use Byron Katie’s approach as it involves identifying a story, giving it a one-word label while also being aware of the breath and sounds as portals into the timeless present moment.
- Unscheduled: The second practice involved a colleague sending me three-five random reminders or .b to stop and pause (see Mindfulness in Schools) throughout the day using Whatspps, Skype and/or email. While receiving each message, I would complete a 3min self-guided meditation break in which I used meditations bells to ground the momentum of mind in the present moment while observing what arises. The random nature of the messages meant they were not another to-do item I can schedule in and therefore would be more challenging for my mind.
Towards the end of the week, I began having a lot more creative insights and felt increased positive feelings of fun, curiosity and humour. There is growing evidence of mindfulness not only impacting wellbeing but also cognition, learning and academic performance. In her book The Power of Mindful Learning, Langer challenges seven common ‘myths’ or accepted approaches in education including ideas on rote-memorisation, the importance of focused attention and intelligence to more mindful approaches which consist of continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective which I also experienced in my mindful learning journey (see below).
As part of the visualisation design, I deliberately wanted to avoid using letters, numbers or background lines to allow meaning to be explored in purely qualitative terms. I chose a circle rather than a square or triangle as the circle doesn’t have any sides one can count.
Day 5, non-workday, the thoughts my mind produced do not follow the pattern of days one-four and therefore influenced not only by the environment but by time or schedule. Day one-three, my 11-year-old son was in the room studying online which induced certain thoughts around his wellbeing and levels of online engagement. My colleague would send me an emoji 😃 as a .b. Day 3 I received an unexpected clock-emoji which produced all sorts of mind stories based on possible interpretations and meaning; this may have been Jungian synchronicity of a meaningful-event but the clock emoji coincided with another event involving a conversation regarding late working hours; mindful practice gave me the ‘implicit awareness of more than one perspective‘ . Day 4 we experimented with different emojis which was fun but didn’t quite have the same impact as the unexpected new emoji.
Rather than track each meditation against time, I decided to build on visualisation 1 from the previous week, and monitor total water intake for the day during each meditation. In mindfulness practice, there is often reference to the timeless dimension of the Now and therefore linear time may not serve ‘symbol’, measure or indicator to qualitative changes in consciousness. The water intake is recorded digitally through Hydrate water bottle throughout the day. The days I exercised first thing in the morning and therefore drank more water is evident from the later starting points; this observation wouldn’t have been available had I tracked the practice against time.
 Lupi, G. and Posavec, S. (2018) Observe, Collect, Draw! Journal. 1st edition. Princeton Architectural Press.
 dot means to stop and b stands for being or breath. See Mindfulness in Schools https://mindfulnessinschools.org/teach-dot-b/dot-b-curriculum/
 Bakosh, L. S. et al. (2016) ‘Maximizing Mindful Learning: Mindful Awareness Intervention Improves Elementary School Students’ Quarterly Grades’, Mindfulness, 7(1), pp. 59–67. doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0387-6.