Mindfulness: Calming the mind while washing the dishes

mindfulnessThe hardest part of stress and anxiety is often thinking about the “what ifs”.  What if I never find someone to love?  What if I never find a job?  One way to calm these restless worries is the practice of Mindfulness or Mindful meditation.

Mindfulness is a heightned awareness in one’s present thoughts or feelings or sensations without judgment. These Buddhist principles were popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the U.S. in his psychologically based stress reduction program.

You have probably heard that taking things one day at a time can help reduce your anxiety about the future.  Mindfulness meditation is the practice of trying to break it further down to the moment.  In these mental exercises, one might take an ordinary task, like washing the dishes and try to achieve this alert mental state.

Yesterday, instead of my usual program of cursing the task of doing the dishes and speeding through it, I slowed myself down and adapted to its rhythm– the heat of the running water, the softness of the suds, the circular motion of the rinsing of the plates and bowls and the clanging of the silverware.  If my mind wandered to a “what if” place, I refocused my attention on just the task of “doing the dishes”.   It was a momentary escape!

What else could I add to my day, as I begin my practice of mindfulness?  Stop to pet my cat’s luxurious fur as she sits next to me by the computer, with her black tail curled tightly around her body in a ball? Experience the taste, textures, and smell of the variety of tropical fruits in my salad?  Hear the sounds of the city outside my window- garbage trucks, ambulances, and backhoes and try not to judge them?

In trying to make sense of it, it seemed kind of like stopping to smell the roses, which seems like a good idea.  And noticing, but not judging the unpleasant stuff, though perhaps more difficult, sounds like its worth a try, too.

This post is also published in www.myculturemagazine.com

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