Mindfulness: It’s As Simple As Having a Shave
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
I was thinking about mindfulness the other day (see what I did there?) and it’s not so much a life hack, but something far more mysterious and guru-ish. Mindfulness – or at least that which is being flogged as the latest Big Thing – thusly, is the Hack for Life.
That, pilgrims, I’m sorry to tell you is the latest Magic Elixir, Doc Scott’s Patent Nostrum and Snake Oil; roll up, roll up and see the Scotsman climb the pole: the higher he goes, the more he shows.
Butbutbutbutbutbut… you go until you get bored and decide to get on with it (this is fun); it’s all about finding inner peace, emotional harmony, the sock you lost last Thursday and all sorts. Well, yes. But did you know there is a thing called – and I’m not joking – the Mindfulness Industrial Complex?
It’s apparently as lucrative as anything with silent retreats, craft stuff, meditation apps, calmness trackers and the like. Three years ago there was a report into the growth into something that had become a bit of a thing: an obsession among adult Americans using colouring-in books for self-help therapy. For example, sales went from 1 million to 12 million units in 2015.
And I don’t know where you draw the line on that level of obsession. It must have made for some random scenes at family restaurants with everyone – Dad, Mum, the kids – all fighting over the red crayon.
I’ve been referred to mindfulness on a couple of occasions. I had a check-up with the doctor a couple of years back when I felt more dead than alive and looked it. Mindfulness came up in the conversation and I was referred to some online stuff. It had also come up in some counselling/CBT sessions for depression. This was all occasioned by dealing with what I heard described on an old Morecambe and Wise show as “metropolitan madness and cosmopolitan chaos” – a.k.a. the lunacy and speed of modern life and poor choices in dealing with the full catastrophe.
But when I went to read the materials it was in that sort of psychoflatulent prose that brings on anxiety and nausea. To all intents and purposes it may as well be quantum ridiculopathy or zen exhibitionism for all the bloody good it did.
But a beaucoup of folks lap this stuff up and pay good money to do so. And, I’ll wager, you’ll read some of this gumph and before you know it you are in a designer flannelette shirt, a Ned Kelly-impersonator beard and the bouffant from hell with acute Martianicidal tendencies.
Those tendencies manifest as an obsession with smashed avocado, because sufferers believe avocados to be Martian eggs seeded in an invasion of planet Earth and must be destroyed. So your hero is thus is helping save the universe by having them beaten to a pulp and consumed on toast.
I’ll wager you’ll read some of this gumph and before you know it you are in a designer flannelette shirt, a Ned Kelly-impersonator beard and the bouffant from hell with acute Martianicidal tendencies…
For the record, one of the people I did see was a psychologist with a Glaswegian accent. It was like being counselled by Billy Connolly. Further, due entirely to an unfortunate affliction I have that makes me imitate accents when I hear them, utterly hilarious, the noo. But he did see the issue right through and made a fair assessment of what would help:
“Ye need tae read th’Tower O’Poo,” quoth he.
“Th’Tower O’Poo. It’s a wee buk aboot Eastern Philorsophey an Winnie the Poo”
And so it is – The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (who also wrote the Te of Piglet), and which is a comparative analysis of practical principles of Taoism and the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh, who, while being a bear of very little brain, is nonetheless a lot smarter that you or I or anyone you care to name.
This is because Pooh is entirely in the moment and that is whatever that moment might be at any point on the space-time continuum, Marty. Whatever that moment is, Pooh is right smack dab in the middle of it, committing crimes against inhumanity and that’s that, so there.
Proper form, too. However. What in hell does this have to do with mindfulness and shaving? I’m glad you asked, and well done you on following it to this point. It’s this – versus the Mindfulness Industrial Complex there is Pooh, being mindful in the simple conceptualisation and execution of simple but important things.
Consequently, for the purposes of the Tao of Pooh, mindfulness is nothing more than actually concentrating, and this is best done absentmindedly, like Pooh, on that which is your primary thing. And that primary thing is at any given point in the space-time continuum, Marty.
(It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that the Back to the Future franchise would have done Buddha’s head in.)
So, this brings us to the inexorable and inescapable consequence of the above: Mindfulness can be found, and a damn sight cheaper too, in those things you know how to do, and in the case of male hipsters, more of. Like shaving. Consequently, if you want to look like Ned Kelly for validation and inner peace, put a wastepaper bin on your head.
Shaving. In this mad, mad FOMO-obsessed world where everything goes at a million miles an hour, even the snails in my garden, given the speed with which they can devastate my strawberries, the simple ritual of shaving has been complicated to the point of multi-tiered blades. And you’re shaving in the shower like Sweeney Todd on crack and getting maybe five nice shaves out of it and then you are using another and, they’re not cheap.
This is feeding something that won’t stop eating.
So, to save you money on snazzy blades and self-help mindfulness paraphernalia, you should go back to using a single blade razor. And by that I mean one of those square ones by Wilkinson Sword and not a Sweeney Todd cut-throat. I found my old single blade unit in the man cave recently. It was one from my Army Reserve days. Felt as nostalgic as AF.
So I got some blades for it and had quick shave.
And nearly bled to death.
Then I remembered something I got off social media and which was useful. And it relates to the 20 or so pieces of good advice someone’s dad gave them as a throwback to simpler times of white picket fences:
Go with the grain on the first go-around.
That, of course, implies a second go-around against the grain.
So far so good.
Now, that’s two considered shaves in the morning, not a hit-and-run in a hurry. Because when you use a single blade razor you cannot rush a shave. You will bleed to death, like I nearly did. And I’m a risk management professional, so I know this stuff.
Ergo, boil some water. Don’t use the microwave. We’re not in a hurry here. Add a bit of cold but it still must be just about as hot as you can stand it without requiring medical attention. Don’t splash it on, soak a washer, wring and apply. Try not to scream if too hot. We’re being mindful.
OK. Shaving brush. Whip up a lather that would rival the consistency of a really top class Mr Whippy ice-cream. Apply liberally to one’s face like a small child does with a Mr Whippy ice-cream. Use the tip of the washer to clean off your lips. This makes for the creation of better mad clown faces should you be interrupted by kiddies, partner or postman. Pause to admire pecs. Positive self-image is important.
Right, starting on whichever side you are comfortable, give yourself a manly look in the eye and commence to shave in even, gentle and smooth strokes, with the grain, rinsing the blade each few strokes.
Right. All done? Now apply another coat of lather and repeat but this time against the grain. Feel for errant stubble and thin out at your discretion.
Rinse with cold water, dry and, if you are feeling devil-may-care and your face does not look like the result of the opening moves of the death of a thousand cuts, apply aftershave.
While you are so doing you can reflect on matters various and take the pace out of your morning routine and spend some quality time with yourself. You can then emerge from the bathroom, look at the time and actually not rush around swearingly because you are running late. This because you feel fab and mindful.
The alternative is that you just go back to multitasking it and eating the future in an overuse of plastics and shiny things and kill the world.
Or you could give up on shaving, grow a Ned Kelly beard and foil dastardly plans for intergalactic domination by an alien species simply by dint of having a grotesquely overpriced breakfast.
And speaking of breakfast, there’s this:
John Taylor is a dad of two teenagers and a regular contributor to The Dad Website.