mindfulness amid the noise

It was February and school vacation, a cold, snowy, gray day in the northeast. I was at the grocery store and overheard a mother, sullen children in tow, sigh to someone at the other end of her phone: “and I didn’t even get to yoga this morning because of the kids. It’s going to be a long week!”

I, too, like my yoga. I like the dedicated time to consciously center myself physically and mentally, and in so doing allow some of the static that builds up to drift away. I am a better version of myself when I take the time to be actively focused and mindful. I am a better decision maker, I am more patient, more creative, more present, and I’d hazard to say, more likable.

But a secret (that’s really not such a secret) is that so much of the benefit of mindfulness practice that comes from active meditation or yoga is (woo-hoo!) available everywhere and in everything we do. Every moment is an opportunity to do whatever-you’re-doing mindfully. Folding laundry. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Walking. Playing with your kids.

Probably people know that. It can just be hard to get there sometimes, what with all of the thoughts and feelings and things-to-remember constantly bubbling up. So I want to share a strategy that helps me shift into that place of conscious awareness, something simple that I’ve been doing for truly as long as I can remember, that you can just break out for a few minutes anytime, anywhere.

And that is to do something–whatever it is–as quietly as possible. I did it as a child walking in the woods and descending the stairs in the morning. I do it now putting away dishes and laundry, or preparing a meal. There are sounds inherent in any activity, of course, but the effort required to control my contribution to the noise has a magical way of bringing focus and mindfulness to the task at hand. Just the frame of “quietly” forces me to slow down, to hold and place things with care, to be cognizant of the sound of a plate under a stream of water, a sponge on a plate, a plate in a dish drainer. I notice the weight of my footfalls, the scrape and click of a doorknob. It changes the quality of time as it’s passing, and even in just a few moments, shhhhh…a hit of mindfulness and renewed focus.

I’ll take it. –t

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