I read a post on a social media site that said something like: year 2013 , day one of 365. It brought several things to mind. First, the obvious, today is the first day of a new year. However, it also brought to mind the idea that today does not have to be perfect. It is one of 365 individual days that will all occur within this year. I get to choose how to view, spend, and then remember each day…beginning with today. All of these memories are then logged in the volume entitled “2013”.
Now, to some, this may sound overly simplistic, or maybe too obvious. But what I am really referring to is mindfulness. Mindfulness can be seen as being present in the moment, each moment. We westerners spend a great deal of time living either in the past or in the future. We lament mistakes and long for the good old days. Or, we do everything in service of tomorrow, next week, next month, or ten years from now. While showering, we worry about the day ahead. While having dinner with our families, we consider the schedule for the coming weekend. We pride ourselves in the art of multitasking.
And what is missed? A sunrise, the warmth of the shower running down your back, a child’s smile, or a hawk sitting on your fence while the snow falls gently around him. Mindfulness is important to our approach to diet and exercise. In order to get the most from resistance training, the right muscles must be engaged. If you are not paying attention, you are likely to hurt yourself at worst and not get the benefits you seek at best. What about mindfulness and eating? Too often we grab a quick bite on the run-don’t get me started on fast food. Breakfast is a muffin grabbed on the way out the door and eaten in the car, lunch at your desk, dinner in front of the television, late night snack, still in front of the television.
How many times do you chew? Do you take time to smell the food? What colors are on your plate? What about texture? Taste? When we eat mindlessly, we generally eat too quickly and too much. Current estimates (Nature Magazine) indicate that it takes the brain about 10 – 12 minutes to register satiety. If you are eating at warp speed, you are likely to eat much more than your body needs.
There are a few ways to begin to bring mindfulness to your life.
1. Eat your meals at the table without television. Look at your food…color, texture, consistency. Smell it. Really taste it, chewing slowly and deliberately. Notice the temperature. Notice whether it is smooth, soft, crunchy, chewy. Put your fork or spoon down between bites. Take time to breathe.
2. You may want to practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth. Again, just brush your teeth noticing all sensations.
3. Ever thought about driving without the radio and telephone?
So what if you try one of these, or something else, and find your mind wandering to the past or future? Gently bring it back to the task at hand. Minds wander, it’s okay. And remember, you have another 364 days to practice.