I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. But this past December I was thinking about changes I’d like in my life. The one that kept coming to mind was mindfulness.
For me, this means improving my overall mental health. Slowing down to become more aware of my actions and reactions. Being present in my surroundings. Taking time to enjoy this beautiful life.
Mindfulness is a work in progress. It isn’t always easy. I’m used to rushing all the time. I hurry to finish one chore, just so I can get to the next.
This past weekend I decided to deadhead the roses, cut back overgrown plants, and scoop up leaves. We have a large yard, so I knew I couldn’t get it all done. But I wanted to try.
I went from one plant to the next, snipping as fast as my fingers could squeeze the pruning shears. I stopped myself.
Go back, Jenny. Pay attention. Look at that gorgeous flower. It just started to bloom. Notice the bright yellow color, the shape of each blossom, the thorns on the stem. Be thankful for this small miracle, right here in my own backyard. What am I doing this work for, if I can’t stop to enjoy it?
When I gazed at that rose and sniffed its sweet scent, I took a deep breath. I felt relaxed and rooted to the earth, right where I was, engaged in what I was doing. It almost felt like I was stopping time, just for a moment.
Mindfulness isn’t complicated. It comes to me in simple ways. Such as when I brush my teeth with my electric toothbrush. I close my eyes and notice how it feels like a massage to my gums. How the brush gently shakes in my hand. The taste of the toothpaste. The smell of the mint.
Last night at dinner I ate slower. Sometimes I feel as if I’m shoveling the food in, just to finish, so I can hurry and clean the kitchen. I forced myself to take the time to notice the texture of the chicken and taste of the spices. How creamy the sour cream was on my baked potato. The crunch of the lettuce leaves. The soft but firm feel of the broccoli when I bit into it. I was thankful I had this delicious food to make.
Toward the end of our meal, my husband said, “Why did I eat so much faster than you?” I told him about my mindful experiment. It wasn’t that he was eating faster, it was that I was eating slower.
I’m going to make a conscious effort to pay attention as much as I can. I’m hopeful it’ll get so natural, that it’ll become part of my routine. Not that I won’t be zipping around, trying to get everything done. I know there will be times I’ll forget to notice life going on around me. It takes practice.
I’m going to be mindful of being mindful.
Slowing down to pay attention to life is a gift to myself. Attention really is a rare and pure form of generosity.
I’m worth it. We all are.