Life must be lived moment by moment. Each moment brings possibilities for purposeful activity. Each moment carries a message, a lesson for us. In PATH’s (Purposeful Action Therapy) we extend the influence of the lessons beyond the therapy hour by use of assignments. The clients may be asked to keep a journal of daily feelings and behaviours, to reflect on moment-by-moment purposes, to recall past debts and repay them, to write letters of concern or gratitude, to do exercise that sharpen attention, to conduct life according to a fixed temporary schedule, to prepare meals, explore unfamiliar supermarkets, parks and so forth. The client may need to be reminded that transformation, changes lies not in some golden hour of therapy but in practice of daily life. The hour of PATH session each week becomes a model for the hours of the remainder of the week.
Some exercises for developing PATH skills are as below. These exercises are by no means trivial and in fact are extremely difficult when done correctly, when done with attention and with purpose. You may wonder at first why these exercises are assigned. Perhaps you will no longer wonder after you have become accomplished at them. Very few of my clients are skilful at any of them when they first come for therapy.
The assignments are:
• Get up in the morning • Prepare breakfast • Talk with someone • Take a walk • Clean the streets in your neighbourhood • Scrub your bathroom • Eat dinner • Play a game • Take a bath or shower • Go to bed
Let’s take a look at one of the listed task Get up in the morning
As soon as you awaken in the morning, it’s time to get up. Snooze alarms is foolishness. If you need the help of an alarm to get you awake, set it once and hold on to your purpose of getting up at that time.
If you need help cutting through the habit of an early morning debate with yourself about getting up, try singing a song on awakening while you swing your legs out of bed. Get your body up and moving, all the while noticing which foot touched the floor first, what your hands are doing (rubbing your eyes, running through your hair and so on), where your body is taking you (to the bathroom, the kitchen, the closet and so on) Practice being alert from the moment consciousness returns each morning.
Notice which hand turns on which faucet first, how you wash, dry, wipe, dress, make the bed and so on. Notice which arm goes into the sleeve first, which trouser leg is pulled on first, how you go about putting on socks and shoes. Let your mind and your eyes move with your actions, always with awareness, always paying attention. Life was not meant to be groped through in a fog of semi sleep. Jump into it right from the start of the day. Don’t lose even those morning minutes.