Slow down....take time to smell the roses. Listen, Touch, Smell, See, & Hear the wonders around you. The things that do not cost reciprocate the highest level of pleasure and happiness
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness outside of meditation?
1. Mindfulness gives the mind a rest from our fixation on discursive thinking. Of course, we need to think at times. But the mind tends to get
lost in stressful thoughts about the past and the future: we replay painful
experiences from the past; we mock up worst-case-scenarios about the future.
It's exhausting and rarely productive. Paying attention to what is happening in
the present moment is a welcome relief from these stressful and habitual thought
2. Mindfulness takes us out of ourselves. You can see from #1 that
most of that discursive thinking is self-focused. It's refreshing and energizing
to open our awareness to the world around us instead of always being preoccupied
with our personal stories. Mindfulness also helps us cope with painful physical
sensations when their intensity takes over our entire sense of self and we feel
we are nothing butpainful sensations.
3. Mindfulness turns a boring activity into an adventure. My
work meditation—putting food away after a meal—may have sounded boring. But with
mindful awareness, it became an adventure: finding just the right-sized
container for the amount of food that was left; transferring the food from the
serving tray into the container without spilling it (all the while enjoying the
stimulation of my sense of smell!). This intentional engagement with what is
happening in the present moment generates curiosity not boredom.
4. Mindfulness frees us from judgment. Non-judgmental awareness of
whatever presents itself to the senses is a key feature of mindfulness. We
become friendly and impartial observers, free to put down the heavy burden of
judging. In this way, mindfulness is a doorway to equanimity because the essence
of equanimity is being calmly present in the midst of both pleasant and
unpleasant experiences. Note: This doesn't mean we wouldn't take action
to prevent harm to ourselves or another. In true mindfulness, we know when to
abandon our impartial observation and grab a child who's about to step out into
5. Mindfulness enables us to make wise choices. When our minds are
caught up in stressful thought patterns, it's hard to see through the mental
clutter. We get confused and become reactive, not reflective. Then we're more
likely to respond to others unskillfully, perhaps saying something we later
regret. But if we've practiced mindfulness in the midst of both pleasant
and unpleasant experiences, we're more likely to be aware of our reactive
tendencies and can catch ourselves, take a conscious breath, and choose a more
skillful way to respond.
6. Mindfulness opens our hearts and minds to the world unfolding right
before us. The meditation teacher, Pema Chödrön (a chronic illness sufferer
herself), describes this as, "Letting the world speak for itself." When I
practice mindfulness outside of meditation, I often use this phrase as a sort of
mantra: "Let the world speak for itself," I silently say. The world answers with
the full array of life's experiences—the squawking of a scrub jay, the breeze in
my face, the sadness in a child's cry, the sight of a young couple in love.
Our five senses are some of our most powerful tools for enhancing our
well-being. Even today, doctors are still trained to rely on their senses to
help diagnose and treat illness. Yet the hectic pace of modern life can
sometimes drown out our ability to tune in to our bodies. Here are some ways you
can awaken your soul by paying attention to the five senses you were born to
Smell can be a powerful sense.
In fact, ninety percent of taste is actually smell. So use this sense to the
fullest. When sitting down to eat, take a moment to deeply inhale the flavor of
your food. Surround yourself with natural aromas from flowers or buy essential
oils you can use to induce the feeling you want to create. Bergamot and
peppermint, for example, have been shown to stimulate your
Part of what’s so amazing about
touch is all the different textures and temperatures we can feel. Go outside and
dig your hands into the earth or snow or feel the bark of a tree. Stroke a pet.
Gently massage your temples. Try not to let a day go by without getting a hug.
Scientists describe five primary tastes we can
identify: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and (most recently) savory. Identify which
flavors evoke positive emotions for you and then turn that taste sensation into
a longer ritual. Eat and drink at a slower pace. Nurse a glass of wine or savor
a piece of chocolate or cheese.
Start to get in
the habit of really watching the things that bring you joy: a scene in nature,
your kids playing. Take a closer look at the faces of the people you love.
Examine every beautiful wrinkle and mark. To sharpen your eyesight at work, try
positioning your computer monitor slightly below eye level. This causes you to
open your eyes less, which means less eye strain and cornea dryness.
Pleasant sounds have the ability to bring us
instant stress relief. “White noise” sounds that come from nature sound machines
or trickling mini-fountains create a blank slate for the human brain to relax.
If you don’t have a sound machine, try listening to what’s closest in nature:
leaves rusting, the wind blowing, rain falling or waves crashing. Turn on
beautiful music while you do work. And smile. This will ease up the strain on
your middle-ear muscles, which in turn softens low-frequency noises such as
traffic or ambient conversation.