At one time or another, we’ve all experienced rushing mindlessly through our daily routines, missing how there are many opportunities to turn routine activities into moments for mindfulness, presence, and self-care.
“Hurrying up” is a feeling with which most of us are all too familiar. With extensive emphasis on doing, producing, and achieving, the TO-DO list can feel like a never-ending task. Whether you write your lists on paper, in your phone or tablet, or if they go fleeting through your mind before you can get them on paper, we often cross one task off only to add three more. With such an emphasis on “getting things done,” it’s easy for our to-do lists to become a source of stress, anxiety, and frustration.
Below are some routine activities that will become more meaningful through mindfulness. Transforming mundane routines into moments of mindfulness can create “reset buttons” for us to feel more internal balance, let the to-do list go, and slow the dizzying pace of life … if only for a moment.
1. Showering or bathing
Notice the feeling of the water running over your body. If you like baths, notice how the warmth of the water envelops your body. Draw your attention to the sensation of your fingers on your scalp as you wash your hair. Explore the feeling of your skin with soap on it or the texture of your wash cloth or loofah against your skin. Visualize the water washing away your preoccupations, worries, negative feelings, and tensions in the body.
2. Drinking your daily coffee or tea
Close the newspaper, put down your phone or tablet. Close your eyes. Notice the sensation of the heat radiating through the cup and onto your hands. Lift the cup to your nose and savor the rich smell of your coffee, or the spicy, sweet, and herbal smell of your tea. Notice the warmth of the steam as it touches your face. Pay attention to the sensations in your nose, throat, and chest as you inhale the perfume of your chosen drink. As you take a sip, swirl the liquid around your mouth, noticing how the flavors and temperature transform. Revel in the sensation of the liquid as it flows down your throat and settles in your stomach.
3. Eating meals
We’ve all heard our mom or dad say, “You should eat more slowly!” In a sense, that’s a call to eat more mindfully. The beauty of mindfulness is that it simultaneously allows us to accept what’s happening and create change simply by being aware. Mindfulness in our eating habits might begin with noticing how quickly and mindlessly we consume our food. It might involve more awareness of when we engage in “emotional eating” (eating as a tool to cope with our emotions). Becoming mindful of how and why we eat gives us the power to choose how we relate to our food. It gives us the chance to gradually slow down our process of eating — noticing the smells, textures, tastes, and temperatures of our food as we prepare and consume our meals.
We often engage in exercise as a means to an end — to lose weight, get stronger, or become healthier overall. While these can be meaningful goals, they also keep us future oriented and often dissatisfied with our current selves. Whether we work out at a gym, run in the park, or go to yoga classes, approaching exercise mindfully gives us a chance to be more present, more satisfied with our exercise practice, and more likely to establish a long-lasting exercise practice.
Mindfulness in exercise begins with noticing and accepting what is happening in our mental, emotional, and physical world at any given moment. Awareness of our physical world can mean appreciation of our environment, or deeper awareness and connection to our physical body. Through exercise we can become more aware of, connected to, and appreciative of the capacity of our bodies. Don’t just feel the burn; mindfully feel the burn!