As a busy mother of two, I often find myself "multi-tasking." Reading emails while nursing, exercising while playing, making lunch and dinner simultaneously. While somethings go hand in hand together, mostly there is a chaotic sense of rushing, not having enough time, when life is approached in the how-many-things-can-I-do-at-once mentality. And it can be draining.
Not only do you waste mental energy trying to split your mind in two, which is against the nature of the mind, but also the quality of the activity suffers.
There is an overwhelming sense of calm and ease when I approach one task at a time. When I am fully immersed in the task and to completing it with a mindful quality it is easier, it gets done more quickly and I find I have, or feel that I have more time over all.
This mindfulness is especially helpful when performing a task that you do not enjoy. For some it's dishes, others, laundry, sweeping vacuuming, grocery shopping, or checking emails, whatever it is for you, notice if you are coming from a space of rushing through to get to the next, more enjoyable, thing. It's like a weight is lifted when you mentally, consciously take a deep breath and immerse yourself in the task.
What can you find that's not so bad about it?
What can you find you could actually like?
And if you can't find anything that's ok, too. You can learn a lot about yourself by being fully present with your discomfort as well.
Know that everything in life is temporary. Every task has an end. You are breathing. The present moment is worth your undivided attention.
Here are three tips for being more mindful in your everyday activities:
1. Breathe. It's that simple. Awareness of breath brings you into the beauty of your present moment. Even when you're doing something that doesn't feel beautiful or enjoyable when you rest your attention on your breath and the fact that you are alive, gratitude can fill the moment. Of course this works when you are enjoying something, too. Since breathing happens automatically it maybe difficult for someone who is new to the practice of mindfulness to remember to tune into their breath. Make a mental note of a cue of something that happens often during the day, when your phone rings, when your baby cries, when your dog barks-whatever works for you- and use it as a reminder to attend to the task with your undivided attention.
2. Get Grounded. Spread your toes. Feel your feet, especially your heels, heavy into the floor. Doing this barefoot is best.Luckily I work from home and live in Southern California where I can be barefoot almost always.If you have to wear shoes all day you can still bring awareness into your feet. Feel your awareness move through your entire body. It is so helpful to really get out of your head and into your body. When you are in the throws of a project and your mind is going wild thinking of what you don't like about what your doing you are not immersed in the task and you are not putting the best effort and energy into what you are doing. You are in fact wasting energy and will probably feel drained later. Take a moment to step back and reconnect. By grounding your feet into the earth you are making yourself aware of your embodiment then you can be fully aware and present with yourself.
3. Do only one thing at a time. This is the huge one. We have been evolving as a society value "multi-tasking". We are often praised for being able to juggle many things at one time. But not only are the outcomes affected but also your physical and mental state are taxed.This might be something we're not even aware of if we've become well versed in multi-tasking. Which was definitely the case for me. I didn't even realize how different everything in my day could feel until I made it an intention one day to be as mindful as I could in each moment of the day. Of course this can't be done for every single moment, but when you have set that clear intention, you are more apt to realize when you have gone off course and then you can gently remind yourself to come back to practicing mindfulness.