Do you remember the details of brushing your teeth or hair this morning? How about what you ate for breakfast or what you said to family members? Most of us don’t remember the details and many of us don’t even remember if those things took place. We often live our lives in a semi-conscious state, going about our daily tasks almost like robots. And yet, every single moment is rich with details and sensory experiences.
Integrating mindfulness into our lives can add meaning and beauty to our lives as we recognize and appreciate the tiny nuances of daily living. But how do we begin? Making a promise to be mindful throughout the entire day is a sure way to fail. Our brain is easily distracted and will carry us away with daydreams and grocery lists at the first chance. If we want to program ourselves for success, we need to start small.
We can identify one or two tasks that we do every day and make a commitment that we’ll practice mindfulness as we do them. Take washing our hair as an example. We can practice being attentive to every detail. As we reach for the shampoo bottle we can consider how amazing it is that we tell our hands to reach and then the muscles, bones, tendons, neurons all work together to make that happen. We can consciously feel the weight and texture of the shampoo bottle in our hands. As we pour the shampoo into our hand we can notice the feel and temperature of the liquid. Placing the shampoo on our hair and beginning to lather it, we can appreciate everything about this sensory experience. There is soothing massage, the fragrance of the shampoo, the sensation of the soap sliding through our hair, and the sound and feel of shower water on our body. Instead of rushing through this task we can appreciate each moment, drinking in the experience with our senses and being thankful for them. If thoughts or worries pop up, we can gently bring ourselves back to the senses and the experience of washing our hair.
There are hundreds of small tasks we do each day that can be practiced in this mindful way. The hard part is jumping in and doing it. Just pick one, make a commitment, and try it for a week. See what it brings to your life.