To continue my thoughts on the last two posts on simplifying my life and living in the moment, today I thought I would take a few minutes and talk about mindfulness in day-to-day activities. This is something I have really been trying to grasp lately.
It started a few weeks ago after reading an article on why French people are not (for the most part) overweight. The article, among other things, talked about how the French practice mindful eating. As Americans, we are so used to eating on the go, in front of our tv or computers, that the thought of mindful eating is almost foreign to us. I am as guilty of this as anyone, and in the past during my lunch break I would either browse Facebook on my phone or read a book on my kindle. Sometimes I even eat in front of my computer while reading blogs or sending messages! Remy and I have different lunch hours so it was easy for me to just pick up a distraction, and by doing so I would usually end up eating way more than I needed to.
In an effort to practice mindfulness I have been taking my time, unplugging from electronics, and being mindful while having a lunch by myself. I set out the placemat, napkin, plate, silverware, and pour my drink. Then I sit down and proceed to eat slowly, concentrating on the different textures and flavors of what is on my plate. I chew slowly, sip my drink, and savor the uninterrupted time by myself. To be honest the first few days I found myself inadvertently picking up my phone, but slowly I have been weaning myself off of the need for distraction. Not only is this good for my digestive system, but it gives me time to pause and be grateful for the food rather than shoving it in my mouth without a thought. Since I have been getting so much of our food from the Farmer’s Market it gives me time to think about each vendor who sold me what is now on my plate. Knowing the person who grows your food adds another whole aspect to being grateful for the food and where it comes from. During our evening meal we eat together as a family, but even during that time I can be mindful of the family time together while enjoying our food.
From this little exercise, I have now expanded it into my daily house work; whether it is helping Remy with school, hanging up the laundry, making my bed, cleaning the house, or cooking. As I am doing each activity I try to be mindful of what I can be grateful for in this particular chore. I can value the time helping Remy and the opportunity to stay home with him for school. I can savor the sunny day, listen to the birds sing, and be thankful for living in the country while hanging my wash. I can appreciate the comfortable, large bed Chad and I have, and the good nights sleep that it gives. I can be thankful for the shelter the house provides while sweeping or dusting and I can be grateful that I am able to prepare healthy food for my family.
This has really helped me to relax and be more focused on the positives in my life. Many people think I have a easy, fun life. :-) And while I do at times, I will be honest and say at the moment there are many stresses in my life regarding those I love with sickness, struggling finances, and relationships. I find myself easily sucked into worry, and then discontentment at being here in Virginia when they are so far away. By bringing myself back to the place I am now, practicing thankfulness and mindfulness, I can keep my thoughts in a positive focus, rather than constant worry. I honestly think everyone should do some sort of exercise like this and experience the difference in their lives. Taking time to pause and reflect, even for just a moment, is beneficial.
Now I know many of my readers work full time and have a much busier life than me. You might be thinking that you don’t have time to practice mindfulness, and that if you don’t eat in your car on the way to your kid’s practice you won’t eat at all. I totally understand and have previously had a busy season like that in my life when my girls were younger. Maybe start 5 minutes of mindfulness in the morning before you get out of bed, or at night before you go to sleep. Take time to think about the positive little things in your day-to-day life. If you spent the day working and running kids around, perhaps take time to be grateful for your job, the funds to pay for your children’s activities, and the opportunity to be a parent. There are so many people out there who are not able to do those things.
But maybe you are going through hardships and think there isn’t anything possible worth being mindful and grateful for. It might be a loss of a job or loved one or physical sickness I would have to disagree that there isn’t anything to be thankful for even in these circumstances. There is always something…even in the darkest points of your life. I have been there and I know that taking time to focus on positives makes hard times not as bleak. It might be something as simple as clothing to put on and having running water, but there always can be something.
I encourage you to take time today to practice a little mindfulness in your life. I think you will be amazed at the results!