You might ask what is so important about being mindful. What is the big deal to paying attention to the present moment? There are so many other more important things to do right now. I’m doing just fine. But are you really?
How often do you find yourself doing a task yet thinking about something completely different? That’s where the predicament lies. Unfortunately, many of us don’t even know we are not present. For example, we get in our car to drive to a specific place but oddly enough when we get there we can’t remember how we got there. After reading several pages from a book we can’t seem to remember what we just read.
Our mind wanders all the time. Research shows that Americans in his/her waking life is spent 47% NOT paying attention. We don’t have full awareness of our conversations, daily tasks not even our thinking mind. What’s the mind doing… it’s wandering. The mind travels very frequently and often without our attention. When our mind wanders, we make errors. The mind often wanders to the past or to the future. “Wherever attention goes the rest of the brain follows,” says Amishijha, Neuroscientist.
Much neuroscience research has been done on the brain and the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation and practices. It is the reason we see “mindfulness” everywhere. There is actual science that shows that mindfulness changes the neural pathways in our brain and that when we are mindful, we are calmer, more peaceful and less reactive with our emotions.
The challenge for this week is putting your full attention when washing dishes, washing hands
and/or face or taking a shower.
It looks like this….
Before you start to wash your dishes notice yourself standing in front of your sink, how does your body feel? Are you tense in your shoulders or are you relaxed? What about the lower part of your body, tensed or relaxed? Is there any discomfort in your body, what does that feel like? How does the floor feel under your feet? Take a few seconds to check in with your body.
Now that the water is flowing, feel the temperature of the water, does the water feel silky or hard. What about the soap, feel the soap, the bubbles in your hands, is there a scent or no scent? How do the dishes look and feel when they are dirty? As you use the sponge and dish soap be aware of the act of cleaning the dishes. Is there a difference now that the dishes are clean, how they look and feel? Observe.
Deeper meaning: This is a great exercise to demonstrate to us that as we focus on the task at hand it is impossible for the mind to wander. If you find yourself thinking of something else while washing dishes, your mind is wandering. This exercise shows us that it is possible to be fully present, fully aware in what we are doing and that we are capable of being mindful. It is through this kind of practice we then can bring this kind of mindfulness attention to other aspects of our lives: our relationships, our conversations, our goals and in our daily interactions with others. It is through daily mindfulness practices that we strengthen our ability to be aware of our thoughts, actions and reactions for the betterment of our health and wellbeing.