Posted on January 8th, 2013
Here are some simple suggestions that can help you approach daily tasks mindfully 1. Below is a list of some mundane tasks that most people do automatically— that is, mindlessly. The next time you find yourself doing one of them, deliberately focus on and pay attention to what you are doing and experiencing at the moment. Approach the task with a sense of curiosity and an openness to whatever you experience. Notice all that is happening outside and inside yourself. And, whenever you find your mind wandering from the task at hand, just gently return your attention to it.
1. Mindful Showering
This everyday activity is a good one to start with because many people find showering a pleasant, even sensual experience. Next time you shower, notice how the water feels on different parts of your body. Notice the temperature of the water, but don’t judge whether it is too hot or too cold or even just right—it is just the temperature that it is.
Notice how it feels when the water sprays on to different parts of your body, but don’t evaluate whether the spray is too strong or too light. What do you feel as you rub your body with soap and shampoo your hair? Notice what the soap and shampoo smell like. And, as your mind drifts away from showering, gently refocus on showering.
2. Mindfully Brushing Your Teeth
Yes, you can even brush your teeth mindfully. Notice what the bristles feel like while you’re brushing the front, top, and back of your teeth and how it feels to brush your gums and your tongue. Notice the taste of the toothpaste. Just focus on the simple task of brushing your teeth.
3. Mindful Eating
Put down your smartphone, ipad, book, or magazine. Turn off the computer, TV, and radio. Then, use all of your senses to fully experience your eating. When the food is in your mouth, close your eyes, eat slowly, and savor the textures, the tastes, and the whole experience.
4. Mindful Dishwashing
Start your mindful dishwashing when you have just a few dishes to wash. From the time you turn on the water until you shut it off, focus all of your attention on washing the dishes. Notice how it feels, what it looks like, and what it sounds like to scrape dishes and then to wash them with a sponge or dish rag. As you rinse each dish, watch the water run down the dish and over the side into the sink. Listen to the sound of the water hitting the dish. Although it is easy to do this routine chore while thinking about other things, for once, just wash the dishes and be totally into doing it.
5. Mindfully Making Your Bed
Some people make their bed quickly and carelessly, some people do it meticulously, and some people do not make their bed. Few people make their bed mindfully. Pay attention to each component of making the bed, from smoothing the sheets to the last minor adjustments of pillows, blankets, and covers. Watch what you are doing, and notice how the picture of the bed is changing. Be aware of the different textures of the bedding. Feel the kinesthetic sensations of pulling up the covers and tucking in the sheets. Immerse yourself in the whole experience of making your bed.
6. Mindful Exercising
Next time you exercise, whatever the activity might be, do so mindfully by focusing totally on the exercising. This means no headphones and music, no TV, no talking to other people. Just pay attention to the movements involved, how your muscles feel, and your breathing. Do not evaluate any of these sensations, such as by saying to yourself, “This hurts,” “This is hard,” or even “This feels good.” If you can exercise mindfully, you will have had the full experience of exercising rather than just part of it (as you do when you distract yourself from pain or labored breathing).
These are but a few examples of routine behaviors that you can experience fully by doing them mindfully. Pick one or more from this list or generalize the instructions to any other routine tasks in your life. The more you do things mindfully, the more truly in touch you will be with your life. In fact, tasks you find boring may actually become less boring because you will be experiencing all the little things that even simple tasks include.
Spiegler, M. D., & Guevremont, D. C. (2010). Contemporary behavior therapy (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. ↩
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