Keep Your Hands Busy to Stay Mindful
By Jessica Charbonneau, LCSW
If you're familiar with the concept of mindfulness, you probably associate it with meditation, deep breathing, and yoga – all very still, motionless techniques designed to center and ground ourselves in a chaotic and distracting world.
There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness including but not limited to: reducing anxiety, preventing and treating depression, increasing body satisfaction (especially beneficial to individuals post bariatric surgery), improving cognition, and reducing distractions (American Psychological Association).
Maybe you have always wanted to try mindfulness but just haven’t thought you had the time? We don't need to block out 30 minutes of our day to practice meditation in order to experience the many benefits of mindfulness. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, mindfulness is the “practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm”. We can be mindful and busy at the same time. We can be mindfully connected to activities we enjoy or do every day already. Here are some examples:
Knitting. The repetitive, gentle motion of knitting and the rhythmic clicking of needles can induce a relaxed state like that of mediation. The practice of knitting requires one to pay attention and to be aware of the pattern and our movements in the present moment. Enjoy mindfully the satisfaction of creating something.
Walking. Try walking at a slightly slower than normal pace. Become aware of the gentle heel-to-toe sequence as each foot makes contact with the ground. With every step, breathe naturally and fully, filling your lungs with air. Enjoy mindfully the satisfaction of having done something active.
Washing Dishes. Try to be mindful of how you clean the dishes, taking your time to make sure each one of them is thoroughly cleaned. Become aware of the sensations as your hands hit the warm and soapy water. Be mindful of what’s going on around you without getting distracted by the voices or conversations. Enjoy mindfully the satisfaction of a job well done.
Taking a Shower. The warm water washing over your skin can sound like a mantra. Try to be mindful of the smell of your soap and the sensation your hands passing over your skin. Be mindful of the temperature and mindful of the noise of the water coming to a halt when you finish. Enjoy mindfully the satisfaction of feeling refreshed and clean.
Drinking Coffee or Tea. Try to focus on the sensations coming from your coffee or tea. Notice the warmth of the mug in your hand, the rising steam coming from the cup. Take a sip and be mindful of the taste and the aroma. As you swallow, feel the warm liquid flowing down your throat. Enjoy mindfully the satisfaction of taking a time out.
So clearly your take-away is mindfulness isn’t just something we practice during planned meditation sessions. It can creatively be incorporated into our everyday lives by simply paying a little more attention to our daily activities as we perform them. The possibilities are endless.