As contradictory as these two things seem to be, it’s possible to bring mindfulness to our many daily activities, so that we can carry them out without the usual physical and mental tension that tend to occur when we have a lot to do.
If you are a parent of young children, it’s likely that every day you have a significant list of tasks to undertake: get kids up, eat breakfast, prepare lunches, prepare self for work, travel to school then to work, carry out work... and so on. As we move between roles and tasks - specially if there isn’t much time in between (or we are engaging in the dreaded multi-tasking!) - we tend to keep thinking ahead to the next thing and the next, often imagining what is going to be involved, and this contributes to our tension. Tension also results from our mind and body trying to manage all our racing thoughts and constant physical movement. In conjunction with this, we’ll maybe experience an inner commentary that says things like “Oh no, not another red light” or “I wish the kids would be quiet for a bit” or “Damn, I forgot the toilet paper”. Result? We are not the calm, rational and centered person we would like to be.
At its simplest, mindfulness involves doing something with awareness or bringing your awareness to what you are doing. It’s the opposite of autopilot and reactivity. Therefore, the breakfast rush could include being aware (or noticing) that you are not tasting your coffee. The moment you become aware that you aren’t tasting it – you will begin to taste it! As you trot into kindy or school with your little one (with most of your attention on getting there on time) you might realise that you haven’t been appreciating the wonderful feel of their soft little hand in yours. While you are waiting at the traffic lights, notice how your shoulders feel. If they are tense, let them drop – another moment of mindfulness.
Even in the midst of busyness, moments of mindfulness are gold because our body relaxes a little and our mind softens too. Both of these help us to think more clearly and to keep current priorities where they need to be instead of mentally racing ahead of ourselves and becoming overwhelmed with what is still to do. One deliberate deep breath. One instant of appreciating something. One return to “Let me be present with this” is all it takes to begin to experience life – even a busy life - with a little more ease.
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