I really like food. Chances are, you do to.
But the other day, I was struck by a contradiction: For as much as people love food, most hardly ever eat!
It’s true that you consume various food and drink every day.
But how often is your mind present to the physical act of eating and drinking?
How often have you eaten breakfast while staring at the TV, lunch while sitting at a desk doing work, a snack while looking at your phone, and dinner while reading the news?
It doesn’t matter if your body goes through the motions of eating. If your mind isn’t along for the ride, you aren’t really living that experience.
Do What You’re Doing When You Do It
Living mindfully means cultivating a state of mindfulness throughout your day.
This means getting fully present to the experience you’re having, when you’re having it. In letting go of the unconscious wanderings of the “monkey mind”, you can settle in to what’s happening right now.
Or, if I may offer a more direct suggestion, simply do what you’re doing when you do it.
This represents a synchronization of your body and your mind. You’re fully aware of what you’re doing, acting with intention. In this way you can open up to the inherent beauty and wholeness of your life’s experience.
While doing one thing at a time, your mind will wander to other things. But just like in meditation practice, noticing your mind has wandered means you can gently acknowledge it, and come back to the present moment.
4 Daily Opportunities for Mindfulness
“Finding time for mindfulness” is the most common challenge I hear people say in regards to not living a mindful life.
But that judgement is misguided.
It’s true that seated meditation is the heart of mindful living, and that it does take time on it’s own. But mindfulness is about a lot more than that.
Sitting in meditation might be the drumbeat of a mindfulness practice, but the practice must be applied to the rest of your life!
Never bringing mindful awareness into the rest of your day would be like sharpening a pencil each morning, just to stash it away and never write a single word.
If you feel that you don’t have time for mindfulness, I’ve outlined a few opportunities to be mindful that you’ll encounter every single day. Let go of excuses about “not enough time”, and use these opportunities to experience life more fully.
When you embrace that there’s always time to be mindful, the hardest part is remembering to be present.
1. Eating and Drinking
Food and drink fuel your body to go out into the world and live your life! Yet far too often, our meals go unappreciated.
Instead of rushing through a meal, eating while doing something else, simply eat while you eat.
Pay attention to your meal, and you’ll discover a world of texture, temperature, flavor, and sensation.
If you experience discomfort at the idea of slowing down to just eat, it doesn’t need to be for your entire meal. Start with a shorter amount of time, for example setting a timer for 5 minutes.
During this time, slow down, and pay attention to the act of eating. Take smaller bites. Chew your food well. Put your utensils down between bites. Experience and taste every bite!
2. Interpersonal Interactions
When you’re talking with a friend or colleague, just talk with them. Open yourself up to the conversation.
Listen intently to their every word. Take time to really see and hear them, as they are in this moment.
Every conversation is a fascinating learning opportunity, and a chance to connect.
Whether you’re washing dishes, showering, wiping down a table, or brushing your teeth, you clean things every day.
Some view these activities as burdensome chores. But that’s all in how you perceive it.
Washing is a great physical act to pay attention to. Notice the temperatures, textures, and sensations in your body as you go through these acts.
In taking a bit of time to slow down while washing, you’ll move forward with greater clarity.
4. Changing Posture
Every day, we transition between standing, sitting, and lying down. Each of these movements is a little opportunity to get out of the thinking mind and into the sensations of our body.
This can be tricky to remember, since it’s more of a transition than a specific activity.
But these transitions will always take place. Notice them, breathe, and move with intention.
You may even find that you want to keep moving mindfully once you’re up, or seated. 🙂 It’s a beautiful thing, to move with mindfulness.
Give Yourself the Gift of Presence
Every moment of every day is an opportunity to be mindful.
Hit pause on the unconscious sprint through life’s moments, so you can really live these moments.
Slow down a little bit, and life comes into focus. You can experience life as it happens, instead of always living for the next thing.
All of this perspective can be summarized with a simple phrase: Do what you’re doing when you do it. 🙂