Thursday, May 25, 2017

Moment to Moment

A Zen story from Paul Reps’ Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, illustrates the idea of mindfulness in the moment. After studying to be a Zen teacher, Teno went to visit Nan-in, an old Zen master. Teno left his shoes and umbrella in the entrance before entering Nan-in’s house. After greetings, Nan-in asked Teno, "Did you leave your umbrella to the left or right to your shoes?"  Unable to answer,  Teno realized he still had a way to go and went away for six more years to study.

Present moment awareness boosts stress resilience and well-being. Researchers find it lowers levels of anxiety and depression.
Leah Weiss, a teacher at Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Program, advocates mindfulness in action. She suggests practicing throughout the day, rather than just for a 10 minute meditation. Weiss suggests, “becoming mindfully aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings even while you’re engaged in some other activity.”

Japanese railway employees have used a technique for error-prevention. The technique is called shisa kanko, variants include shisa kakunin kanko and yubisashi kosho. The term means, “pointing and calling.” 

In the early 1900s a steam-train engineer Yasoichi Hori, started to lose his sight. Worried that he’d go through a signal by mistake, Hori began to call out the signal status to the fireman riding with him. The fireman confirmed it by calling back.  An observer decided this was an excellent way of reducing error, and by 1913 it was encoded in a railway manual as kanko oto (“call and response”).  The pointing came later, after 1925.

The theory indicates that hearing your own voice, and engaging the muscles of the mouth and arm, stimulates your brain to become more alert. 

Research conducted in 1994 by the Railway Technical Research Institute noted that workers asked to complete a simple task made 2.38 errors per 100 actions when no special steps were taken to prevent errors. When told to add just calling or just pointing, their error rate dropped significantly. If workers used both steps together, they received the greatest reduction in error.  The combination of pointing and calling reduced mistakes by almost 85 percent.  

A wide range of Japanese industries and businesses now uses the technique, since the 1980s as part of a comprehensive program to reduce on-the-job accidents. 

Put more mindfulness into your life. Start with something simple, like pointing and calling before you leave home in the morning. 

Lights off? Check. Windows closed?Check. Money? Check. Phone? Check. 
With this technique, you’ll never forget your keys or valuables again.

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