While some of these activities and tasks aren’t all that strange normally, they are in the sense that you wouldn’t associate them with a mindfulness practice. But there’s a way to bring a mindful watch to everything you do. Here are 10 things to try.
Wash the dishes. Slowly and carefully. Makes sure the dirty dishes are near the sink so you aren’t disrupted by gathering them mid-way through your mindful dishwashing session. As you wash the dishes, place all of your attention on your hands, the soap, the dishes, the water, the temperature, feelings, and crevices. Notice how the soap feels on your hands, and how the air feels after you remove each dish. Use smooth, circular motions to make the process methodical. Soap. Rinse. Dry. Soap. Rinse. Dry. Soap. Rinse. Dry.
Eat a bar of chocolate. Over the course of 30 minutes. Experience all the intricacies and details of the chocolate.
Dance. Moving your body without anything else to distract you can feel liberating. Find a space where there’s room to move, turn up some music (preferably without lyrics) and just go. Close your eyes if you can and tune into nothing but the music, your body, and flowing with the beat.
Laundry. There’s something methodical about folding clean clothes. Take your time as you shake them out from the dryer, fold them carefully with attention, and move onto the next thing. Work slowly and mindfully.
Listen. This one has many different paths. I’ll narrow the options: if you’re alone and on the phone with someone, close your eyes and zero in on every word the person is saying to be with them fully. If you’re with the person, hold their eyes and be 100 percent present with their story. This is the practice of mindful listening. You can learn more about mindful listening in a recent post. If you’re listening to music, same rules apply: close your eyes and tune everything out except the music so you can focus on the different sounds, textures, rhythms, and beats.
Kiss. Kissing mindfully is different than kissing with a motive. A mindful smooch can’t have any other purpose other than to smooch. It can’t be a peck to communicate goodbye as you’re headed out the door, and it can’t be attached to any expectation of where it will go next. If you want to bring mindfulness into a kiss, just dive in and explore the kiss with all of your senses tuned in and remove your awareness from anything else. Except the experience of the kiss.
Sweep. Grab your old-fashioned broom and find a floor. It doesn’t even matter if it’s dirty (although if it is, you’ll be productive, too.) When you’re sweeping, you’re performing the same action over and over again. Back and forth. Back and forth. Go slow and be curious. Discover different spaces and spots to reach and clear. Bring all of your attention to the part of the area you are sweeping. You’ll be surprised by how relaxing it can be when you don’t have to sweep in a hurry.
Cook. Cooking can be an incredibly mindful activity, or it can be a messy, loveless endeavor. When you cook mindfully, you are hyper-focused on the details of the meal you’re about to create. You think about what to make and where it came from, so you can feel more connected to the food you’re eating. You also consider how it will affect your body. When you chop, you move with awareness and focus. Cooking can be stressful if you allow distraction and that overwhelmed feeling into the kitchen. Or it can be an opportunity to be creative and present.
Take a Walk. Walking isn’t strange at all. But when you walk with the intention of mindful walking, the walk will feel different. To walk mindfully, move slow and with awareness. Feel all parts of your feet as they move from heel to ball and back. Keep your eyes low so you don’t get distracted by anything around you. If you’re walking in a beautiful and quiet place, you can keep your gaze higher, but shift your eyes consciously and slowly to enjoy the scenery.
Meditate. Ok, this one isn’t strange either. But meditation is the ultimate activity to gain a mindful state. When you practice sitting meditation, you’ll be more adept at bringing that meditative, mindful state into everything you do. And that’s really the idea.