Five ways the every day can be mindfulness
How to think of the ordinary as special.
Think of something ordinary that’s in your life every day. Socks. Showers. Coffee. That kind of thing. You could treat them as wallpaper as most do, just things that are the backdrop to the bigger ticket items in our lives: kids, partners, jobs, money, houses, cars.
But what if you paid attention to them? For instance, when you took that first sip of coffee, you really tasted it and appreciated it, rather than went through the motions because hey, you have coffee every day, and newsflash, you’re a very busy person
You’re so busy in fact, that you don’t have time for this “mindfulness” thing that wellness gurus go on about, touting it as good for mental health, spiritual wellbeing, emotional balance and even physical health.
Well, here’s another news flash: the simple act of appreciating a sip of coffee is mindfulness. You can practice mindfulness in easy, accessible ways that require no training, reading, studying, sitting on a cushion in a candlelit room chanting – not much effort at all, really. All you need to do is remember to focus on the thing at hand.
Confession: I am writing this while eating my lunch, so not the greatest exercise in walking the talk! But I did, just now, remind myself to savour each mouthful of the leftovers from last night’s cheesy chicken bake . (It’s from a 1980s Women’s Weekly cookbook! I replace the brown rice required in the recipe with cauliflower rice and it’s amazing … but I digress, another example of not walking the talk … )
Mindfulness is really just being “in the moment”. No one, not even perhaps, the Dalai Lama, can be mindful all the time (well, maybe he can). So don’t stress, if like me, your life is a series of multi-tasking episodes and scattered thoughts. And promises to self to meditate more regularly but often finding yourself forgetting to.
Treat some of the every day activities in your life as exercises in mindfulness and you’ll be amazed at how they add up to clarity, peace, and maybe even a little joy.
Go on, take that first sip and savour it. Your favourite beans in your counter-top machine at home, or your favourite barista made this for you. Appreciate it for a second. Then get on with your day.
Nothing shits me more in winter than socks. I love them for keeping my feet warm but I hate pairing them and putting them away after washing, especially since I became a sock folder during that whole Marie Kondo craze (yep, I still do it). But if I remember to appreciate them for keeping my feet warm, not resent putting them away as being a chore, life feels better.
We jump in, get clean, we get out. I’m not advocating lingering too long and wasting water. But next time you take a shower, take a moment to appreciate it. The heat, the soothing pressure of the water, the privilege of having access to running water. Gratitude is a lovely by-product of mindfulness with its own set of remarkable benefits.
TV can be the zone-out, don’t-think, let-it-wash sedative we all need at the end of a hard day, or to pass the time during lockdown. Next time you put on a new show, pay attention to the miracle of technology and the extraordinary effort that’s gone into streaming entertainment into your living room. I mean, think about it! How cool is that! Congratulations. You’ve had a moment of mindfulness.
How good is bed! Don’t just get in and turn off the light, or do whatever it is you do. Maybe do a snow-angel on the sheets and observe their slipperiness (because hopefully you wash them regularly). Observe the luscious contact between your head and the pillow. Fluff the doona and thank it for keeping you warm. And that way, you’ll have clocked up another mindfulness/gratitude combo moment that’s really going to help you get a good night’s sleep. Mindfulness says you are welcome.