So this whole mindfulness thing has really been popular as of late. There is a simple reason for that: it works. And from personal experience, it works well.
Perhaps you want to get started, but you tell yourself, or your busy mind tells you, that you just don’t have the time to sit around and meditate during the day. My first piece of advice is to take the time to observe your mind from an outside perspective and simply be in the moment. That is what meditation is all about. But this isn’t an article about meditation.
Despite what you think, meditating is not the only way to be mindful. My next piece of advice is to be mindful in your day-to-day activities. You can experience a meditative and mindful state merely by giving complete attention and awareness to the things you are doing in the present moment.
Maybe this sounds crazy to you, but it is entirely possible. It takes a lot of practice and patience to make it happen.
How many times have you been doing something, your mind is on auto pilot, and before you know it you don’t even realize what you are doing? For many people this is a very common occurrence. It doesn’t have to be this way. By taking the time to really concentrate on what you are doing in the moment, you are being completely mindful. You are not giving into the other thoughts about the past and future that are popping in and out of your head; rather, you are content with what you are doing right now.
1. Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth is often a difficult task to be attentive to because it is often the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do in the evening. When you first wake up your mind is completely focused on the daily tasks ahead, and when you are getting ready for bed, your mind is probably focused on the events from the day or getting to sleep. Often you are half-asleep in the evening when brushing.
Really take the time to look in the mirror and focus on brushing your teeth. Perhaps you can take the time to ensure each tooth gets brushed thoroughly. Don’t just rush through this activity. Start your day off mindfully and end it mindfully.
2. Taking a Shower
Showering can be an awesome experience if you take the time to relish it. Observe the warm water against your body and how good it feels. When you lather soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, or whatever, notice how great it feels to get cleaned up. Don’t take this activity for granted because most people in the world don’t get a warm shower!
Cooking can be a very therapeutic and mindful activity when you let go of everything else that is going on in your mind. Chopping vegetables, sautéing meat, stirring sauces, and even seasoning dishes can be done mindfully.
It is common for us to be so focused on finishing the meal that we forget to enjoy the process of making the meal. Don’t let this happen. Don’t rush through the cooking. Observe how harmonious your mind can be when you take the time to cook purposefully.
This is still difficult for me at times. I am so hungry at times that I can’t help myself from scarfing down the food in front of me, instead of mindfully eating it.
Put away the television and the cell phones, and give all your attention to eating. Don’t use this time as a means to get to the next activity. No, this is the current activity. Enjoy it.
Also, it is much healthier to eat mindfully. Eating slower is better for your digestion as well as your mind.
5. Driving and Sitting in Traffic
Challenging as it might be, it behooves you to drive mindfully. It is much safer for yourself and everyone on the road if you are completely attentive to driving and not ruminating over some past event.
Sitting in traffic is often a cause of rage, frustration, and general discontentment. Here’s an idea: try something different. If you usually get ticked off when sitting in traffic, try just being present with the traffic. Don’t let your mind veer you to an imagined scenario where you can’t be late or the world is going to end. Just chill. It is going to be OK. I’m not suggesting you have to be completely appreciative of the traffic, but you can find ways to enjoy yourself by being more mindful as regards to being angrier.
6. Folding Laundry
I am not a fan of folding laundry. I admit that I find it difficult to be mindful during this activity, but it is possible. Focus on every piece of laundry that you fold. Pay attention to the way you fold every shirt, pants, underwear, etc.
It is easy to do other activities while folding laundry that can distract you away from the task at hand. Try turning everything else off as you fold each piece of laundry.
7. Washing Dishes
Similar to folding laundry, give attention to each dish you wash. Don’t focus on the fact that you have a stack of dishes to wash. Concentrate on how the soap feels as you scrub away every knife, fork, spoon, etc. In an odd way it can be therapeutic as well.
Walking meditation is a common practice. When you are out in nature, focus on what you are seeing at the present moment. Be attentive of how your body feels as you take every step. Observe your breath, and how it changes as you walk faster and slower. Walking is an extremely effective method to adding more mindfulness to your daily life.
The only time I enjoy shopping is when I can take my time and be mindful of everything I am looking it and purchasing. Too often people get in a rush when they are shopping. Shopping can be enjoyable if it is done at the proper pace and with an attentive attitude.
I don’t know how much can be absorbed if you don’t read mindfully, but there is a reason why people struggle to comprehend what they read. The mind likes to wander and focus on other things besides what you are reading at the moment. Give each word the full attention it deserves. Perhaps reading will become a more gratifying activity for you when you take the time to do it mindfully.
The activities that can be completed mindfully are certainly not limited to this list. You can live your entire day with mindful intention. All it takes is attention, awareness, and the intention to be as mindful as possible for each activity. As you learn to be more mindful implementing it into your daily life becomes easier.
Featured photo credit: Shannon via Joey and Ava cooking chili via Flickr via flickr.com