While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Does that sound redundant or silly? It happens all the time though, that we are doing one thing, as we are doing perhaps 100 other things and not appreciating or enjoying any of them. As humans we are busy, and we are constantly thinking, planning, preparing and imagining. We must, at times, and it can be a great tool. It's what makes up innovation and critical thinking. Sometimes, though, it is important to not think so much, to just immerse ourselves into a situation, settle in, and accept what is happening right now; to be present. This is mindfulness. Mindfulness has been characterized by the absence of cognitive operations. "mindfulness is thus a matter of not so much doing, but of undoing: not thinking, not judging, not associating, not planning, not imagining, not wishing" (Assessing Adolescent Mindfulness, American Psychological Association, 2011)
Consider the art of listening, one of the greatest gifts we give and experience. Generally when we hear something new, we quickly bring up our own knowledge and pick apart the new information to compare how it fits with what we know. As we do this, we often miss out on truly listening and hearing the information with clarity. Mindfulness would encourage us to simply listen, without thinking, judging, or comparing, just listening.
Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of experiencing life deeply in every moment. To be mindful is to be truly alive, and present with those around you and with what you are doing (plumvillage.org).
One night as I was tiredly preparing dinner, my daughter was busy running around preparing a few things of her own; a card table, big pieces of paper, a tablecloth, etc. She wanted to show me a drawing she made. I wasn't focusing and asked if I could see it later. She unraveled it and presented a big heart that read, "Parents are great." She asked if just her and I could eat together, away from the dinner table. My tiredness got in the way and I said, "Not tonight." As I walked into the living room, I noticed the candles, tablecloth and two chairs that were now being dismantled by a disappointed young girl.
I was so bummed that I missed that moment. Some moments will be missed and it's okay for kids to experience disappointment, but what I might have been able to adjust, was my worry about dinner or other things I had to get done that night, which may have given me more energy for the present moment.
Page 2 of 2 - Pay attention to what interferes with the job you are doing and then take a deep breath, settle in, and enjoy the moments that present themselves, right where you are!