Not everyday is a picnic on the beach. But that doesn’t mean ordinary moments can’t be wonderful. When we bring our presence to simple, everyday tasks, they have the power to transform our outlook on life. These ordinary moments are the training wheels of an extraordinary life.
Ordinary moments are the training wheels of an extraordinary Life.
Choose one of the following ordinary tasks to practice bringing your full attention to today. Let go of any attachment to feeling a certain way or expecting any outcome. Simply just be in the ordinary moment with full acceptance. Try it today and see how it feels.
- Waking: Awareness
What better way to honor the transition between sleeping and waking than to become fully aware of the present moment? Before you roll over and grab your iPhone to start consuming your Facebook feed, texts, e-mails, tweets, and news, take a moment. Look around the room. If it’s still dark outside, can you see the moonlight bathing the edges of your curtains? Watch how shadows slowly appear out of the darkness. Listen to the silence or the sound of your loved one breathing (or purring) next to you. Maybe you hear a distant clamor in the kitchen or the smell of coffee wafting down the hall. Notice how warm the sheets feel. Take just a few minutes to experience the miracle of just being. Before your to-do lists, worries, fears, and thoughts of all kinds start rushing in.
2. Brushing Your Teeth: Singletasking
I have become aware of my own propensity for productivity, and it seems to rear its head while I’m brushing my teeth. I find myself organizing the bathroom drawers, opening my closet doors to see what I’m going to wear today, or getting on my phone – all while holding a toothbrush in my right hand and trying to keep the slimy, white drool from running down my chin. When I catch myself doing this, I remind myself that multitasking isn’t always productive. Focus on the task at hand. By practicing singletasking, you are training your mind to focus on one thing at a time. This is a skill many of us have forsaken in favor of getting things done.
3. Showering: Pleasure
How often do you miss out on the luxurious experience of showering because your mind is already at the office/studio/shop? Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of actually being present for your morning shower! The shower is the perfect place for practicing pleasure-seeking. I mean, if you can’t thoroughly enjoy your morning shower, what else are you missing out on in life? So, get yourself some body wash or essential oils that you love. If you want to create a mood that is enlivening, try spearmint and eucalyptus. If you prefer a more calming environment, try lavender. Cedarwood or cypress are the perfect choice for grounding.
4. Driving: Distraction-Free Adventure
Ever feel like life is passing you by? Nowhere is that feeling more obvious than being behind the wheel. Driving doesn’t have to be just a mode of transportation to work. Make your driving experience distraction-free. Snacking, flipping through radio stations, thinking about something your client said yesterday…these are all distractions from the glorious day that is happening outside your car. If it’s nice outside, crack your window. Notice the people in the cars around you. Become aware of the trees and flowers in bloom. Do you see shops, stores, or little parks that you’ve never noticed before? What else do you see?
5. Listening: Compassion
So much of the time during a typical conversation is spent thinking about all the things we want to say next. We’re only hearing bits and pieces of what other person is saying. Practice letting go of attachment to being heard and put your attention on how deeply you can listen. Two aspects of deep listening that I’ve really had to work on are: 1) Allowing silence. 2) Not finishing the other person’s sentence. When you find yourself doing this, do a quick body scan. Notice where you might be holding tension. Are you clenching your jaw or furrowing your brow. Do you feel tension in your stomach? Try softening your body to allow the receptive nature of listening to move through you.
6. Eating: Savoring
Like showering, savoring is the art of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Every meal is an opportunity to show up in your life. Show up for your food. Even if you’re not religious, saying a silent “thank you” offers us the opportunity to appreciate the most basic thing we take for granted: our sustenance. Eating is one of life’s most basic pleasures. I dive deeper into this topic on another post, but to summarize: set the table, plate your food, sit down, slow down, and take notice.
7. Exercising: Breathing
Exercise is a wonderful way to pay attention to your breathing. During a run or a workout, try putting your attention on your deep breathing. It’s much easier to notice the rise and fall of your belly or the cool air rushing in than it is during meditation. Use vigorous exercise as an opportunity to connect with the breath. By connecting with the breath, we are inherently steeped in the present moment.
8. Playing: Joy
Do you find moments of joy, laughter, and play in your day? One of my favorite ways is to take a few minutes with my cat. I love to watch her chase the laser pointer, climb in my grocery bags, or watch her climb a tree in the yard. Creating moments of playtime in your day are important for the soul.
9. Washing The Dishes: Slowing Down
Washing the dishes has been a profound teacher in my life. It can feel like such a monotonous, routine task. It’s usually those tasks you find the most loathsome that have the most to teach you. I often find myself hurrying through the dishes so I can quickly move on to the next, better moment. The trouble is when I stop to analyze what that next, better moment is…well, I realize that there is no better moment than right now because it’s the only moment I truly have. And I have a choice. I can choose to not wash the dishes if I want. I could let them pile up. So I deliberately CHOOSE the dishes. I make a meditation out of it. I slow down. “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I love this quote. If I wash the dishes in a hurry, in anticipation of something better, how else am I allowing anticipation of something better in my life to rob me of the joy of the present moment?
10. Making the Bed or Folding Laundry: Gratitude
Like dishwashing, making the bed or folding laundry can feel like a chore if we let it. If we use it as an opportunity for practicing awareness, it can become very pleasurable. When I’m folding laundry I like to thank each item for its service. I thank the towel for drying me off after my shower. I thank my boyfriend’s Carhart’s for protecting his legs at work and his socks for keeping his feet warm and dry. When I’m making my bed, I silently thank my sheets and blankets for keeping me warm at night. Gratitude is a practice. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the desire for the things we don’t have, we lost sight of the abundance we’re already experiencing in our life.
I’d love to hear from you. Which of these tips did you choose to put into action today? How did it feel?