The best thing about mindfulness is that you can return to it at any time. It’s not the same as starting over. Starting over is what you do on Monday or January 1st. Returning is like a friendship. No matter how long you’ve been gone, once you’re back it’s like you never left.
Mindfulness allows you to process your world non-judgmentally. All living beings process their world using their senses.
Take the simple act of eating. Chances are you’ve eaten in the last couple of hours. What can you tell me about it? Certainly you know what it was, and possibly where or how much.
Try this the next time you eat….
- Set your food in front of you. Settle your brain. Relax your jaw and shoulders, and any other tension you feel.
- What does the food look like — the color of the food, table, plate? How does the light bounce across its surface? Is there steam?
- Hold it to your nose. What ingredients can you smell?
- Feel the food on your fingers or tongue. What is the texture?
- As you bite it, is it silent or crunchy? Snap. Crackle. Pop.
- Finally, taste it. Can you pick out individual ingredients? Does the flavor change as you chew?
- Combine your senses. Can you taste it better if you close your eyes, or if you look at the food?
- When is it time to swallow? When the texture is gone, when the flavor is gone, or when another bite is on your fork? Wait to pick up your fork until you know you’re ready for a new bite. Take your time.
What else can be practiced like this? What if we didn’t take a step until we were finished with the one before it, walking at a pace that pleasures us, rather than the one that gets us there faster, or raises our heart rate? What if we stop to look at a landscape as long as we find it beautiful instead of glancing at it through the window of the car as we drive by?
No matter how fast we go, the world forges on ahead of us. So many of us suffer from anxiety and depression, always feeling behind and playing catch up. Being mindful is one way to curb the anxiety.
Turning to meditation may help, looking inward to the rhythm of our own breath which is constant and faithful. Yoga is another discipline which, using breath, meditation and body postures, is widely used to practice mindfulness.
But there’s no rush. Like an old friend, it’s always there for you when you’re ready to return.
Peace . . .