Finger Widgets Under the Microscope

Finger Widget Craze puts some people in a spin?

I never heard of them until a couple of weeks ago. Crazes reach Scotland several years after everyone else.

From what people say, spinners are good for focusing and concentration, Therefore these toys have some relationship to Mindfulness – perhaps. Psychologists say spinners help with ADHD and even nail-biting!

As a former teacher of elementary pupils, I wondered if the Finger Widget was my long-lost friend. Could disturbance in my classroom have been reduced if some children were allowed to satisfy their tendency for restlessness by spinning?

If I was going to find out I would have to purchase yet another piece of plastic. I could afford 99p on ebay and my spinner duly arrived complete with glow-in-the-dark stickers. (Some spinners cost £159 and upwards).

Basically, it’s a toy like a top but spun in the hand or on a surface. The user holds a pad at the center and flicks one of three rounded blades. The spinner rotates around a bearing at the center for quite a while.

Studying it, I wondered, “Is that all there is to it? If only I could have dreamed it up?”

Then I exhausted all the things I could imagine to do with the widget in 2 minutes flat.  I was underwhelmed.

 

 

It was time for some research.

(I use the terms Finger Widgets and Fidget Spinners interchangeably.) I first looked at several obsessions from decades past.

Apparently, adults are always suspicious of their children’s obsessions. Was I?

I remember the hula hoop as a child and thought it was fun but frustrating. I remember the manufacturers put a shoop-shoop in the tubing to extend their appeal and popularity. The news came round the huge staple connecting the tube ends could come off and grab itself into your tummy. That was it. Never again.

Jelly bracelets passed me by, but some parents were horrified: some claimed that those thin rings of plastic gel were actually dangerous symbols, with each ring color referring to a particular sexual act (and having one’s bracelet broken required the wearer to perform that act). Oh dear…

I have mentioned Tomagotchi already. When they were popular, girls kept asking to leave the classroom to perform some life-giving chore for their Tommy. It drove me mad because I didn’t want to be responsible for A DEATH.

Teachers have mixed reactions about Finger Widgets.

Some said they really helped particular students as claimed. So that if they are cheap, colorful mesmerizing, everyone is going to get one or two or three or ten

Ordinary kids get hold of them. Then all hell breaks loose in the classroom. Look at the video below to see the basic to advanced moves. One trick sees a spinner fly through the air – and that takes concentration!. Wait a minute. What are they meant to be used for again?  If nothing else, there is a definite safety issue here.

Personally, as a teacher, it would one more distraction I would have to nag the class about.

Some schools have banned them altogether. There, now they are neither helping nor hindering anyone.

If I could find any compromise, I might allow 5 in the classroom, with everyone alphabetically getting a spinner for a day. If a pupil’s general behavior was poor, he/she would miss their turn. Everyone could use their own spinner in the playground.

What about a nice old-fashioned game like conkers? It needs concentration and you are not only allowed, but intending to destroy something!

The jury (mine anyway) is out on these finger toys. What do you think? Please post a comment.

Tracy

Tracy

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Undread of the Shower

The Shower Holds No Fear for Al

Al Levi shares a story from The Mighty.

This is an experience of a different kind in which the mind has been tamed.

Al cites Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University. They believe that “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

This is what we found out about Libby in the previous shower blog.

Just about 50% of our waking hours are taken up with mind wandering.

Believe it or not, this figure includes daydreaming. Daydreaming often leads to negative thoughts because they have to do with the past or the future, not the present moment.

 

I have said it elsewhere: Your thoughts are not you, they are the mind raising them up to your consciousness.

 

So when you have a shower next, try and use all your senses in those moments, each one new and different from the last.

I like lists. Here’s one for showering:

  • Feel the temperature of the water, name it
  • Listen to the sound of the pulsing water, describe it
  • Let the shower run over your face, open your mouth …
  • Sense the play of water in the different places on your body
  • Sing or recite
  • Compare the rough flannel to hand lathering
  • Smell the fragrance of soap, gel, water
  • Keep going – think of some yourself

I kept the experience going when I toweled myself after my shower.

But now I take time and dry myself very slowly, or even sensuously, loving that I don’t need to hurry or worry.

 

 

When I was working full-time, my wash in the morning was as fast as I could make it (three other people needing the bathroom after me)

In my head I was going over things I needed to remember to take with me, what order I was going to teach my lessons that day, lunch money for the girls, getting something out of the freezer for evening meal, worrying about the so-called “friend” who was giving my daughter a hard time, asking the old ladies next door to take in a parcel and so on.

What of my needs? There was no room for them.

And when I got to school early, I hit the floor running. I won’t bore you with what.

This was part of the reason I burnt out.

Now I am retired, I can look after myself properly. Whereas some of my colleagues are as busy now as before. They are looking after ancient parents, doing lengthy babysitting for their grand- children (fun but exhausting), some have taken on other jobs. It was worth all the grinding years to earn the time to do this blog and other activities I wanted to do while I am still healthy.

I am trusting to Mindfulness to keep me from crashing and burning ever again.

Back to the Shower

 

1% or Bust

Just 1% 

1% 0f anything is not very much, is it? Well, not maybe all of the time, like how much I forget what people tell me. It’s probably more but I don’t remember.

1% of anything is not very much, is it? How much of a day is 1%? 

Well, if you do the math, it is 14 minutes

eMindful worked this out for their members

14 minutes

 

OK. Let’s make a list of all the things you can do in 14 minutes, according to my schedule (your mileage may vary):

 

  • wash the kitchen floor
  • water the plants in the greenhouse
  • make a shopping list
  • read a chapter of my current book, Annie Proulx’s Barkskins
  • bathroom sink and shower tidy up
  • iron 4 articles of clothing
  • shop at the local supermarket
  • shine a pair of shoes
  • plant 3 pots of basil
  • pick sycamore seedlings out of the drivewayMowing the grass taken from above
  • deadhead front garden daffodils
  • do a Facetime with my daughter
  • take a walk
  • detour through Denburn Woods
  • prepare an easy meal for 2
  • make a rhubarb smoothie from garden to glass
  • Make 3/4 telephone calls to arrange appointments
  • vacuum living room carpet
  • eat a meal
  • sew 2 buttons onwalking in the woods
  • listen to a symphony
  • research a topic for my blog
  • get a loaf of bread started in the breadmaker
  • much, much more

I am sure you can add plenty more. Please put some ideas in the comment box below to share.

What eMindful suggested is for people to devote 14 minutes (as much as you would spend dusting daily) on Mindfulness meditation. It seems so little, but it easily gets over the knotty question of ‘How long should I meditate?’. I would say for beginners, that it is not how long you meditate but the discipline and quality of your precious time spent.

 

The people who argue most that they don’t have time Mindfulness are the ones who need it the most.

Please tell me what you think about 1% or Bust. I will answer everyone.

Tracy

 

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Begin with 1%

Just 1%.

1% of anything is not too much, is it? Well, not maybe all of the time, like how much I forget what people tell me. It’s probably more but I don’t remember.

1% of anything is not very much, is it? How much of a day is 1%?

  I did the math longhand. 1440 minutes in a day. One hundredth of 1440 equals 14.4 minutes.

Well, it is figured to be 14 minutes. (I now know why I learned long division in school all those years ago).

eMindful (https://www.emindful.com/ ) worked this out for their members:

14 minutes

OK. Let us make a list of all sorts of things you can do in 14 minutes, according to my schedule (your mileage may vary):

wash the kitchen floor

water the plants in the greenhouse make a shopping list

read a chapter of my current book, Annie Proulx’s Barkskins bathroom sink and shower tidy up

iron 4 articles of clothing shop at the local supermarket shine a pair of shoes

plant 3 pots of basil

pick sycamore seedlings out of the driveway

deadhead front garden daffodils

do a Facetime with my daughter and granddaughter take a walk

detour through Denburn Woods prepare an easy meal for 2

make a rhubarb smoothie from garden to glass Make 3/4 telephone calls to arrange appointments vacuum living room carpet

eat a meal

sew 2 buttons on

RIDE A WAVERiding a wave

walk in the woods listen to a symphony

research a topic for my blog

get a loaf of bread started in the breadmaker go out the drive to the fishmonger

have a nice cup of tea in the garden research blog fact

and many, many more little chores around the place.

I am sure you can add plenty others. Please put some ideas in the comment box below to share.

It such a small amount of time to devote 14 minutes to Mindfulness meditation every day. It seems so little, but it easily gets over the popular question of ‘How long should I meditate?’ I would say, for all meditators, that it is not how long you meditate but the discipline and quality of your precious time spent. Even just 14 minutes…. Then congratulate yourself for doing it.

Sara Lazar from Harvard, has studied the brain to see what happens when meditating:

She is famous for detailing how the brain actually grows gray matter when people meditate. Other studies have shown that meditation improves IQ, and lessens depression. In addition to these benefits, meditation also:

  • Reduces alcohol and substance consumption, blood pressure goes down,

  • Anxiety, depressive symptoms, and relapses occur less frequently

  • Helps patients suffering from various kinds of chronic pain

  • Lowers the incidence of stress

  • Aids cancer patients

Most people think they have to meditate for years before they start seeing any of these improvements, but a study conducted by Chiesa, Calati, and Serretti shows that after just eight weeks of meditation, people start to experience improved cognitive functioning.

(Chiesa, 2009),(Coelho, Canter, & Ernst, 2007; Kim et al., 2009),(Chiesa & Serretti),(Ledesma & Kumano, 2009) https://scholar.harvard.edu/sara_lazar/home

The next challenge for most of you starting on the meditation journey is finding the time in your frantic day to pull out of the fast lane, no, actually pull off the road entirely, to reset your body and go back again into the fray.

(They say that people who excuse themselves from meditating because they simply don’t have time are the ones who need it the most. Remember how little 14 minutes is? It is a small but meaningful gift to yourself. It pays back handsomely in how you deal with life’s slings and arrows.)

So when do you practice during the day? In my experience, it is best to have a set time during the day. If I think I will do it sometime today, the day looks endless and finding time will be easy. But the day will slip by and I won’t find the time.

It is best to pick a time and stick to it. Mine is first thing in the morning at 6 am. Not only is it the most beautiful time of day, it is most peaceful and fresh (I live a few steps from the sea).

You can fix a daily time for 14 minutes (or longer any time of day). Some watches can be set to vibrate at a particular time. Or an outside reminder: we have siren sounding off at 1 pm. Or fit it in after some chore you do regularly. Keep topped up throughout the day with informal Mindfulness activities. Together mindfulness and meditation can blend to weave a rich tapestry that warms and comforts you and protects you at all times.

Please tell me what you think about whether 1% is enough for you? I will answer everyone.

Tracy Fryer


 

 

 

 

Shocking news overheard!

Shocking news overheard!

I work at the till as a volunteer at a charity shop a few days a week.

One of the keys to happiness is to give some time freely to a good cause. Remember I had bowel cancer? Well, you might guess the name of the charity.

Bits of what I overheard from a covey of old biddies:

 

No, I haven’t seen her for ages…

She’s getting £2 more for this than me…

I’m claiming SSE as well…

How long are you stayin’ off?…

Or an elderly pair:

My mum was a Green Apron in Glasgow during the war…

She should have met my mother, what a pair they would make…

Oh, I haven’t thought about my home in years and years…

 

Yes, my lugs were flappin’

The Sottish accent makes stories so much funnier. I don’t to make myself feel better or luckier than others. I will never see the people again. There are people I know who should be taped, like Doreen Scott who has been around Crail for all her 82 years. Or old Pete Smith, gone now, who was a maths teacher in the local high school. He was also an expert on all things maritime from days gone by when most locals were at the fishing for their livelihoods.

They well-known writer about times past in the East Neuk of Fife is Christopher Rush. In fact, though the names are fictitious, everyone local knows who they are. Not always kind, but always funny. Here is a short excerpt by Mary Munro from the Ballater Eagle:

Twa auld biddies across the aisle were busy takin some o’ their friend throwe haun. “Did ye see Jessie’s perm at the Bingo yestreen? Fit a sitter! She hisna Macklemore hair at the best o’ times, but then perm has just frazzled it dry as a been!” Wi a moofu o’ scone, the ither wifie nodded agreement, syne cam oot wi’ – “That cardigan ye’ve on is a richt bonny feuchy-brown colour. It fair matches yer even. Did ye weive it yersel?

Aye, I thocht it wisnae a bochte ain – I can see the wee holie aneth the oxter far ye’ve drappit a stitch!

(The Ballater Eagle, Autumn 2008)

Go and try and say it out loud. You will tickle yourself.

See my other stories about Africa and life in general.

Mindfulness shows itself when we listen and are entertained by stories of others. You are in the moment listening non-judgmentally, taking in every detail.

Do you have a story to share, overheard or otherwise? Will you share it with us?

 


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