Mindfulness in Daily Family Life: Anything Can Be Done Mindfully
“We have the ability to work wonders. If we live mindfully in everyday life, walk mindfully, are full of love and caring, then we create a miracle and transform the world into a wonderful place.” — Thich Nhat Hanh from Moments of Mindfulness, 2013
Mindfulness can be brought into our daily activities so that anything we do becomes meditation. Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, driving the car, drinking coffee or tea, and walking with a pet can all be done mindfully.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist, wrote extensively about mindfulness in daily life. “Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present, and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car, or take our morning shower.” Thay (as he is referred to by his followers), taught that anything we do can be meditation.
When we engage in an activity mindfully we slow down and REALLY pay attention with applied concentration and open curiosity. I have noticed that when mindfulness is brought to an activity it becomes really enjoyable and imaginative. When the activity is partaken by a group, everyone has a different experience and it is meaningful to all.
When I teach mindfulness to children and families, we engage all the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. What do we see right now? What do we smell, touch, taste, and hear right now as we are doing this together?
Another thing we can do is recite a gatha or phrase while we engage in an activity and it brings the mind and body together with a calm and clear mind. Here are a couple of gathas to consider: “Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth, I vow to speak purely and lovingly. When my mouth is fragrant with Right Speech, a flower blooms in the garden of my heart. Before starting the car I know where I am going. The car and I are one. If the car goes fast, I go fast.” (From Plum Village website)
This month let’s really pay attention to activities we engage in together. The following practice can be used during any activity to bring mindfulness into the shared experience.
Mindfulness in Daily Life family practice
Choose an activity to experience mindfully: Washing the Dishes, Walking the Dog, Driving to School. You choose the activity. The practice is the same.
- Begin by consciously identifying what you are doing right now together.
- The practice welcomes all the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. The leader in the practice asks the questions one at a time, allowing for individual experience.
- What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you taste? For example, if we are washing the dishes, we identify the dish we are washing and notice its texture, color, and design. What sounds do we hear as the cloth rubs the surface or the dishes touch one another? How does the water temperature feel on our hands? What does the soap smell like and is there a sense of taste? (Sometimes smell and taste are related in the body)
- Each sense is invited and a quiet moment is allowed for everyone to have their experience. We invite patience and awareness and don’t hurry to the next sense.
Walking is also a great activity to do mindfully. Consider this if you walk a pet regularly. While walking, invite all the senses just as was suggested above.
Published April 21, 2022 in The Taos News