When we speak of mindfulness for mental health and wellness, it is easy to get lost in the details. You may not know how to meditate or how long to do so. You may not know when to even try. But many mindfulness practices are actually very simple.
One such practice is doing something “one-mindfully.” When you act in a one-mindful way, you are simply focusing entirely on what you are doing as you are doing it.
The legend goes that the Buddha was asked what they practiced. He replied, “We sit, we walk, and we eat.” The questioner continued, “But sir, everyone sits, walks, and eats,” and the Buddha told him, “When we sit, we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking. When we eat, we know we are eating.”
It is incredibly simple in theory, but it is difficult in practice. We naturally get distracted or bored, and might even be put off by the pressure. However, you can practice it with these 5 things you do every day, and find yourself appreciating them on a much greater level.
Eat a snack
It’s tempting to advise you to eat a meal one mindfully, but the reality is that a full meal can take a lot of time. Rather, eat one part of a meal or a snack one-mindfully. This does not mean you need to stop thinking. However, you should try bringing your focus back to the act every time you get distracted.
You can notice the subtleties of the flavor, the texture against your tongue, and how it feels going down your throat. You won’t necessarily enjoy the taste more than normal, but you will experience the act in a much more real way.
Listen to a song
I love music, and it is one of the one-mindful activities that resonates most with me. If you have a good pair of headphones, use them. Choose a song and listen to it without doing anything else at the same time. Notice the different instruments and how they come together. Notice the subtleties in the singer’s voice and any layering.
If you are not a musician, this might open you up to a whole new way of listening to music. Instead of only hearing the basic melody, you begin to appreciate the harmony of so many sounds coming together.
Ten years ago, I would not have thought that watching TV was something that could be done one-mindfully. After all, it was a distraction in and of itself. But today, we tend to distract ourselves with other devices while watching even the most engrossing show.
Simply put your phone in another room and focus on the show. The best shows require a bit of patience, and there are many that are truly works of art with so much depth to be appreciated.
Satisfying your thirst with a glass of water is one of the most basic things we can do every day. It is so basic that we barely pay any attention to it. Try to drink one glass of water one mindfully today. Notice the feel of the water in your mouth, its taste or lack thereof, and how it feels going down your throat and into your body.
We tend to only appreciate water when we are very thirsty, but the experience is available every time we take a sip. It is incredibly gratifying to really notice it every so often.
Walk (or drive)
Do you ever reach your destination and realize you don’t remember walking or driving there? The reason is that we treat the journey in a very utilitarian way. It is as if it is just something to get through in order to continue with our lives.
At least once a day, take a moment to notice the actual process. Feel the pressure of your feet against the floor or the pedal. Feel the muscles moving in your legs or arms. Notice the presence of your body in a physical space.
All of these acts are so simple, but doing them one-mindfully is counter to what we are used to. The good news is that you get multiple opportunities every single day. So don’t worry if you get distracted this time. Just remember to try again!