The key to your "door of forgetfulness"
There was a doorway into our lunchroom at the Surrey Leader that had magical qualities, we believed.
To a person, we would march into the eating area with purpose, and completely forget why were there. Yes, the fact that it was a lunchroom should have given that away, but we were completely absent-minded.
My editor (now one of Still Here’s coaches) called the archway “the doorway of forgetfulness.”
It was endemic among staff at the paper.
It was nearly comical. Person after person coming into that lunchroom would scratch there heads in wonder why they were there.
We now know (and probably suspected then) there was nothing “magical” about that doorway.
We lived in a high-stress, under slept, caffeine-fuelled industry.
Our bodies would march into a room (mostly commonly the lunchroom) while fixated on the last interview, the one to come, or facts that simply didn’t seem to make sense.
“In short, we were highly distracted when heading off to feed ourselves. Not even the fact that we were in a lunchroom was enough of a hint as to why we were there.”
In short, we were highly distracted when heading off to feed ourselves. Not even the fact that we were in a lunchroom was enough of a hint as to why we were there.
Some of us were so sure it was the doorway, we would walk back out of it to see if we could regain our memory.
As you read this, it may occur to you that you have a door of forgetfulness at your workplace.
Being mindful of new spaces is difficult, but also extremely valuable.
Dr. Jan Chozen Bays, a zen teacher, talks about how difficult the invitation for mindfulness into new spaces in her book Mindfulness on the Go.
Bays describes being mindful as we enter new rooms as one of the most difficult techniques, even in the California monastery where she studied. One person at the monastery counted 240 doors passed through in one day.
“That’s a lot of potential mindfulness moments,” Bays writes.
So how does one get started trying to be mindful into new spaces.
First of all, use the doorway as a cue, just as you might the sound of a ringing bell before meditation. When you see the door, take a breath.
Move through the door, with attention to both the room you are leaving and the one you are entering.
This will be easier when going outside, or into a different environment.
Your presence will bring much needed focus into the room you are entering, and will honour the one you are leaving, for whatever tasks were being undertaken there.
To help, put a small sticky for a reminder on the door, letting you know to take a breath, gather in presence, and proceed mindfully.
And with luck, you will remember why you’ve entered the lunchroom in the first place.