As a practice, Mindfulness is beautifully simple. Be aware in the present moment. However as with many things in life, simple does not always mean easy.
The main hurdle is just remembering to be present. We are creatures of habit and so are our minds. We have cultivated the habit over our entire lifetime of a distracted mind. Constantly either looking for entertainment, thinking about the future or remembering the past. The problem being that often the past and future thoughts are not nice, either bad memories or fears, while seeking entertainment is mostly used to avoid the feelings that these thoughts bring up.
The solution? As I said, it’s simple! Be present, be aware in the moment. But these habits of the mind are entrenched and not so easy to break.
So this blog is about some easy, gentle reminders to practice Mindfulness. By having the intention that each time you engage in one of these activities in your life, most of which you do every day, you will gradually build the habit of being Mindful. Meaning your mind will gradually start to focus naturally in the present moment without you having to battle the constant habitualised patterns that are the mind’s current tendency.
So how to make this easy, enjoyable and regular enough throughout your day that it actually makes a difference?
It is in the mundane aspects of our lives that we normally run on autopilot. The things we do day in, day out, that don’t really require too much focus, allowing the mind to drift off into habitual thoughts and patterns. This makes these times the perfect opportunity to be Mindful! It also allows the possibility of transforming boring, mundane tasks towards a profound and deep connection with the present moment.
Let’s start where most of us start our day, in the bathroom!
Showering is a great example of the contrast between being Mindful and being distracted. How many times have we stepped into the shower, maybe on a cold day after a long walk, and felt pure pleasure in the warm water on our skin, allowing a letting go and relaxing of our mental state. Times when we just stand there for minutes appreciating the feeling.
Then there are the other times when we hardly notice the water. We’re in a rush and showering is just another task to get done as quickly as possible as our stress levels rise and we shoot off into our day!
So, with the showering practices, let’s use it as a time to have experiences of the former. But let’s take it even deeper into the present. Feel the water, the warmth, flowing over you. Allow the energy of the water to wash away anything you’ve been holding onto. Relax. Be grateful for the endless amounts of technology, ingenuity and man hours that are allowing this moment, you standing under hot, flowing water, whenever you wish, to occur.
This is an opportunity to start and/or end your day in a feeling of pleasure, relaxation and gratitude. A lot better than spending the time firing off more stress chemicals, right?! ;)
It is a rare person that truly enjoys brushing their teeth. For most of us it is the small wall between the couch and bed that we have to climb over every night.
But again, there are pleasurable sensations to connect with if we only become Mindful and rest in the moment and the experience.
Before you begin, feel the energy of your mouth and teeth. Notice how it feels. Is it dirty? Does your breath need freshening? Can you feel the energetic build up of the foods you’ve eaten?
Then brush your teeth softly. Feel the gentle massaging of your gums. Feel the vibration in your teeth and the fine motor skills of your arm, hand and fingers. Once you are finished and you rinse, appreciate the feeling of clean. Notice the slight tingling sensation that has been stimulated through the massaging of your gums and teeth. Enjoy the freshness of your breath.
You have just changed the energetic quality of your mouth, your face, your head. Take the time to notice and appreciate it.
Another task that is too often a chore and something we rush through. But it is also a chance to feel true gratitude and to connect to sensations in the present moment that most people miss their entire lives!
Let’s start with the gratitude. It’s an obvious one, isn’t it. Be thankful for the ease with which you have been able to acquire, store and prepare this food. The fact that you’ve had choice and been able to select foods that you enjoy, either for their taste or for their health benefits. Be aware of the nutrients you will be assimilating into your body from this food, because in a few hours, this food will literally be your body!
While you handle your food, be aware of the textures. The feel of the skin of the fruits or vegetables. The weight in your hand. The density or lightness. Be aware of the edge of the blade as you slice, how does each item feel different, what is the sensation at that point of sharpness. Be mindful of the skill and precision you bring as you cut.
Once you’re done, eating Mindfully should be a given if you’re focusing on bringing Mindfulness into your life so I won’t include it here. But there is a deep dive into the sensations of the present moment to experience here. Don’t miss the opportunity!
For most, driving is second nature. There are moments for sure that require concentration, but we are all guilty of those last few miles that we almost don’t recall having driven at all! If you don’t drive travelling is similar.
These times are the perfect opportunity to cultivate the habit of being Mindful in the present moment and a great little tool is called the “red light practice”.
Red lights when we drive are frustrating! It means go slower, stop! It means it’s going to take a little longer to get to your destination. We’re going to flip that and use every red light as a reminder to come back to the present moment. There will be plenty(!) and it will transform your commutes into a fantastic opportunity to further build your foundation of a Mindful way of being.
Washing the Dishes
We all love washing the dishes, right?! But we’re missing the soothing warmth of the water, the gentle progression through the pile, the texture of the bubbles, the cleansing and renewal of the dishes and the satisfaction of a job done with care, organisation and Mindfulness.
So it’s time to take advantage of this opportunity because it will very likely make you realise that something that is normally considered an absolute nuisance, like washing the dishes, can actually be a meditative and peace inducing act. Our opportunities for a Mindful existence are literally everywhere. Let’s start transforming the mundane into the profound!
This was actually one of the moments in my life when I completely changed my relationship to the periods of waiting that sprinkle themselves through our days. Normally I would be agitated in a queue. I would rock from foot to foot, looking ahead, cursing this waste of my time!
However the day that I decided to use the opportunity of a long queue to be Mindful, I became aware of all that was around me, the people, the place and objects. Then I took it further and appreciated the almost infinite series of events that lead to each object being there. Appreciated the unique journeys each other person in the queue had taken to be there and the limitlessly complex weavings of each of our lives.
I use this wording to try and pass the profound experience that going deep into the present moment invoked. Mindfulness truly can open us to the majesty of the moment. It is vast and rich and whole. So the next time you find yourself in a queue, take the opportunity. Even at it’s shallowest levels, the present moment will instantly change your relationship to the world!
So simple. Give yourself the grace of diving as deep into the present as you can. For one minute.
You may find this is not as easy as it sounds so the best approach is to engage the full presence of YOU in this practice! Feel yourself. Your body, your mind, your personality, your energy, your spirit. And be powerful! Own the moment! Penetrate existence with the entirety of your being and see how existence responds!
This one minute, repeated whenever you feel like it throughout the day, will grow into one of the most life changing practices you do!
So there you go. You now have a variety of simple, easy and powerful ways to bring Mindfulness into your day and transform the mundane into the profound. Start easy. Acknowledge yourself each time you remember, each time you try. Thank yourself each time your awareness drifts but you bring it back to the present.
This isn’t the time to judge yourself, in fact it’s the exact opposite. It’s the time to realise that you are starting to take your life and your being into your own hands and are walking the journey towards a beautiful Mindful existence.
For more information on Mindfulness and to see our programs please visit https://root2mindfulness.com/