If I hear the word “mindful” one more time, I’ll scream! We read it in just about every health/yoga magazine we pick up – endless articles on living mindfully, and yet it’s the furthest thing from most people’s reality. Can I live “mindfully” when I have to get up at the crack of dawn, feed two yapping dogs and and a dragged-out-of-bed- daughter? I don’t think so! On top of that, I’m doing a cleanse now, which has pushed me to a level of irritation that both my husband and daughter find incredibly amusing – grrrrrr!
I will fill you in more about the cleanse when I’m done with it – want to see the end result first, but suffice to say it’s a 2 week cleanse – 2 weeks of not eating all the yummy things that I sweeten my days with. I’m eating quite a lot (cos don’t want to lose any weight), but it’s a mono-diet, meaning that I pretty much eat the equivalent of baby rice food 3 times a day, every day, and absolutely no snacking involved. (I’m dreaming of a creamy soy chai latte – even a handful of roasted almonds for goodness sakes). Also, it’s the usual “No’s” : caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy etc. I’m extremely healthy in my eating habits, and aside from caffeine (tea), don’t really mind about eliminating those culprits, but it’s the monotony of eating the same food everyday that’s getting to me. Interesting that there are many cultures in the world who still subsist on a mono -diet.
Anyway, back to the “mindful” thing – so part of these cleanse is to go within and find a deep sense of calm (or a deeper sense than what you’re used to.) It includes breathing and meditation and attempting to live “mindfully”, in the sense that you get to sit down and eat your bowl of slop, and really taste all the subtle flavors and textures, chewing each mouthful dozens of times. I have to admit that my baby food today was devoured in front of my computer while I was on a business call – I was crazed!
The one moment of mindfulness that I managed to find this morning, however, was quite unexpected: I was faced with the tedious task of a messy, chaotic kitchen with a ton of washing up, including my “rice” saucepan – and if you’ve ever had to wash up a pot where the rice has boiled over and down the sides of the pan – we are talking about a lot of scrubbing. Rather than do it through gritted teeth in less than 60 seconds, I took a deep yogic breath and decided that I would wash and dry each item as beautifully as I possibly could. As I polished my gorgeous red Chantal saucepan, I began to feel lighter. My breathing slowed down and I looked out of my window to notice a Hummingbird sucking nectar from a huge banana plant that a neighbor has installed outside my kitchen window. The subsequent kitchen-cleaning became a highly pleasurable experience where I took time and pleasure with each tiny task. My kitchen got a full-on detail!
Did I have a gazillion tasks to do? Yes! Did I need to get to work? Yes – but by just doing that one thing mindfully, I felt a sense of extraordinary calm come over me. Despite having bookshelves groaning with books on Zen Buddism and the like, it took a terrible bout of irritation to get me to stop in my tracks and do at least one thing mindfully today. If that’s all it takes – bring the “mindful” on!!
I do meditate (or try to) almost everyday, however, living mindfully is slightly different. I can spring from the meditation cushion to my office chair in less than 10 seconds and before I know it, my breathing is shallow, my shoulders are hunched and my mind is off in cyberspace. So, maybe washing up will become my “mindful” ritual once per day. My husband and daughter will think I’ve totally lost the plot if they see me dreamily polishing a pair of kitchen tongs – still better than snapping their heads off!