What does mindfulness mean to you?
- Being present?
- Not allowing your mind to wander?
- Doing one thing at a time?
Even if you’re not disposed to exploring a more spiritual way of life, we can all benefit from applying ourselves to this moment.
Take something as simple as eating.
How many times do you chew your food?
How long do you take for each meal?
How does it feel when you’re eating something when hungry to habitually eating?
I appreciate that on one level – a very superficial one – these questions look banal, but food would take on new meaning if you applied a more mindful way of eating.
Look around you next time you go out for something to eat. Not rudely or to unsettle people, but watch how people eat. Apart from the conversation that causes a gap in the process of eating, very few people seem to know what they’re doing. It’s like they’re on autopilot. One mouthful after another, with no pause in between. (Apart from the health benefits of slowing down when you eat, I think we would all enjoy our food so much more if we weren’t in such a hurry.)
What about mindful conversation?
Do you saviour the art of speaking and listening to people?
I don’t know about you but unless I make a pact with myself to slow my conversation and not be listening in my mind for the next word of mine or the other person’s conversation (even though they haven’t yet uttered a single word), I know that my mind will be racing ahead, and not properly listening.
And I could list a thousand things either from experience or observation, but you get the point.
My advice. It’s simple:
Make a meaningful effort to take more time, lots more time, over everything you do.
Of course, you need to prepare your sub-conscious for the ‘shock’ that you may not get as much done, but you will feel completely different. You will feel whole.
Slowing down is much harder than you think. It’s not a question of working on clock time – “I will take 10 minutes to eat this meal” – but being fully present. Even something like walking, if done slowly, starts to feel completely different. The fact that you’re forcing yourself to go against the grain will feel strange at first but if you practice the discipline over and over, after a while it will feel much more you.
Slowing down as a motto is of course antithetical to our Western ‘Go-Getter’ philosophy but is that really so special when we lead such superficial lives?
Trust me as someone who liked to live life at a zillion miles an hour, forcing myself to do everything at 1/10th of the speed of my ‘normal’ life has been a major battle with my ego-centric mind. But in forcing myself to adopt a different way of living, it has helped me on so many levels to understand who I am.
Try it for the next few days.
Use all five senses in everything you do.
See how you feel.
But, of course, this isn’t an experiment.
No, it’s how we should live our lives – hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second.