Although mindfulness is most commonly associated with meditation, the act of being mindful can benefit much of your day-to-day life. In its essence, mindfulness is the simple performance of being actively present, conscious and aware. Though this may sound like a rather obvious state of existence, the truth is that most of us spend the majority of our time being anything but mindful. We are saturated with technology (including, but not limited to social media, provocative news headlines and viral videos of pandas). This – coupled with an ever-growing state of busyness and expectancy – explains why we live in an impossibly distracted state most of the time. It's no wonder scientists are now concerned that our ability to focus and execute has begun to dramatically decline. Is a lack of mindfulness actually causing the human race to de-evolve? It could certainly be argued as such.
Since distraction seems to come more naturally to us than staying present, it's no wonder that mindfulness is considered a “practice” – something we need to train ourselves to do. The hardest part about mindfulness is usually beginning the training itself, at which point you may have to literally be mindful of being mindful. The practice does get easier, however, and a common hack for many people is cultivating mindfulness first thing in the morning by taking a few minutes of conscious gratitude for life, personal health environment, etc. This certainly is a helpful way to start the day, and after doing so, one can't help but notice that the sun seems a little brighter, the birds chirp a little louder and even a hug or a handshake feels a little more connected.
The Diet Connection
Aside from this prime time of waking, there's another incredible daily opportunity to exercise the art of mindfulness: a healthy diet. Few more activities are as pleasurable as eating, yet most of us take little notice to anything beyond the first few bites. But there are some impressively beneficial lessons to be gained through this activity!
Learning about beneficial foods and superfoods – what they are, where the come from and how they can benefit you – increases your capacity to appreciate and be sensitive to their effects on your body. Cooking your own food also enhances your mindfulness capacity, as you have the opportunity to connect with the ingredients that will soon become a part of you. The activity of eating is a prime way to stay fully present – enjoying the smell, taste and texture of the food, as well as maintaining a state of open connection to your body and the current experience of how you feel.
So the next time you prepare a dish or sit down to eat, use this opportunity to make your meal a mindful one. You'll find your attention to the present will enhance more than just your edible enjoyment, but will also increase your capacity to live the remainder of the day a little more fully.