“We have the ability to work wonders. If we live mindfully in everyday life, walk mindfully, and 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 a kind of meditation. Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, driving the car, drinking coffee or tea, and walking with a pet can all be done mindfully. The key to mindfulness is to pay attention to one thing at a time and really enjoy what we are doing.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a 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. The point of doing daily activities more slowly and mindfully is so that our body and mind may relax as we pay attention to what we are doing right now, rather than thinking about or ruminating about things that happened in the past or that may or may not happen in the future.
When I teach mindfulness to children and families, we engage all the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. What do we see right now? What do we smell, touch, taste, and hear right now as we are doing this together? These practices help with focussed attention so that we are less distracted as we go about a routine activity and we enjoy what we are doing more. Thay reminds us to smile as we go about our daily activities. This raises feelings of positivity.
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|
1. Choose an activity to experience mindfully: Washing the dishes, Walking the dog, Driving to school, Coloring, or Setting the table. You choose the activity. The practice is the same.
2. Begin by consciously identifying what you are doing right now together. Smile to raise the positive attitude of body and mind.
3. The practice welcomes all the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. The leader in the practice asks the following questions one at a time, allowing for individual experience.
4. 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 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)
5. 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.
6. When the activity is complete, we stand up tall, take a deep breath in and out, and smile outwardly and inwardly. Congratulations on bringing mindfulness into your daily life!
Anne-Marie Emanuelli is the founder Mindful Frontiers LLC and has 20+ years of meditation experience. She guides vipassana-style meditation through workshops, classes, and labyrinth walks for children, families, classrooms and individuals. Mindfulness meditation and labyrinth facilitation credentials are from Sage Institute, Veriditas, MindfulSchools and MBSR. For more information and to sign up for our seasonal newsletter, please visit MindfulFrontiers.net.