GTD Meets Zen

I’ve discovered something cool. Maybe everybody does this already. But I thought I’d write about it in case it could be helpful to you.

I try to meditate a couple of mornings a week. I do it in a way that I don’t think the abbess at the monastery I occasionally visit would approve of.

I sit with a legal pad on my lap. If something interesting occurs to me, I open my eyes and write it down. That way I don’t have to deal with trying to keep my mind clear while trying not to forget the important thing that I just thought of.

It feels a bit like when you shake water out of your ear after swimming: I shake all the thoughts in my head onto the notepaper.

This legal pad becomes something of a GTD to do list: call my sister, do taxes, fix Mint, schedule that client. And yes, David Allen, you’re absolutely right: if you write them down in a trusted place, you don’t worry about them anymore.

I find that I write other things down, too.

I write down small kindnesses that I mean to do, but usually forget in the whirl of the day. The intentions that are usually paving stones on my road to hell. Quiet, creative ideas occasionally occur to me. I write them down.

Since you’ve read this far, I’ll tell you what else I’ve figured out. Maybe you can use it, too.

I sit in a comfortable chair. Fuck that cross-legged shit that KILLS my back.

I sit outside at dawn. I like to watch the sky lighten, to be a part of the start of the day, to be part of the weather. If it’s raining, I sit under an umbrella and listen to the rain around me. The neighbors must wonder.

I drink coffee. I told you the abbess wouldn’t approve.

I count to five on my breaths in, and to ten on my breaths out.  I practice being aware of my thoughts, of changing old habits of negativity. I set my alarm for half an hour. Each time, I’m stunned that the alarm is already ringing.

I feel rested and calm when I go inside. And the really weird thing is that this to do list is something I love, a part of me, rather than something onerous and heavy.

I’m not going to win any style points for my so-called meditation. But this GTD/Zen combo has been a pretty cool discovery for me and I wanted to share.