A Lesson In Mindfulness
Ever do something, but not remember doing it? Ever reached your destination realizing you have no recall of the last two stoplights? If you answered yes, you might want to keep reading.
I realized a couple of weeks ago when my co-worker asks me if I need to keep something I seem to have an automatic answer. My answer is NO, then I realize I have no idea what is on the piece of paper she's holding. I blurt out, wait...what is that? I am glad she can be patient!
I also have noticed how for the last few years, I can't seem to wash dishes without washing my shirt. I get water on me, the cabinet door under the sink and the counter. I never thought much about why that was, with the washing dishes thing. I thought it was just how I was, until today.
Today I showered and dressed while my husband, Joel made breakfast. He had run dishwater in the sink with a few dishes in it. I decided I would wash those dishes while he finished breakfast. I had just put on my favorite sweatshirt with extra long sleeves. They are tight at the cuff so you can't push them up without ruining them. Looking down at my sleeves and not wanting to get them wet, I decided to concentrate. I carefully picked up a coffee mug concentrating on not getting my sleeves wet. I gently washed it and turned it over under water that wasn't on at full pressure, which was a first. I rinsed and placed the mug on the dry mat without one drop of water getting on me or outside the sink. I continued to concentrate on each piece in the sink until it was empty. It was then I realized I had just employed mindfulness. I stayed fully present with each movement I made, in order to keep my sleeves dry.
Then I thought about how often I am doing one thing but focused on something else. I never realized I was messy washing dishes because I wasn't focused on the task at hand. The dishes are just an example of a bigger issue many of us face. For some people thinking of one thing at the time is normal. Early in our marriage, when Joel was quiet, I would ask him what he was thinking about. He would say nothing. My response was, no way. I couldn't imagine not thinking of anything.
For some of us thinking of many things at one time is normal. The first time I fully focused on reading an article online at a coffee shop, I will never forget. It was like I got lost in it and time stood still. For those minutes, nothing except what I was reading had my attention. I didn't look up when I heard a noise, or the door open. And in those moments, I totally lost track of what was going on around me. I had nothing else on my mind or attracting my attention. When I finished the article, I felt freaked out. It was an unfamiliar feeling.
My goal for this week is not to engage in a task or conversation until I am fully present. That will be a challenge for me. I am writing this, listening to the Super Bowl and texting a friend all at the same time. And my mind is wanting to wander to what needs to happen at work this week. Today's lesson in mindfulness taught me I need to put more effort into being present in my day to day tasks. Do you struggle with staying present and on task? If so, have you found anything that helps?