Walk into any restaurant, any waiting room. Look around at a bus stop or even most stop lights. What do you see? What are most people doing? Chances are you are going to see some electronic device in front of their face. We have become a society, a culture that looks to avoid boredom. Any moment we have unoccupied, our habit it to pick up our phone in an effort to entertain. To pass the time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m just as guilty. It surrounds us and easily sucks us in. It’s the norm. But here’s my question. When’s the last time you’ve just sat and noticed the moment in front of you? It’s not easy. And it’s not a natural instinct, certainly not in this day in age. But can you fight the culture? Can you buck against what has become the norm?
The practice of mindfulness and the application into our daily lives can be easy, as long as you’re purposeful about it. Mindfulness takes intentionality. You cannot be mindful passively. This sense of being intentional can be the challenge. To make it easier, mindfulness can be done in everyday situations with everyday objects.
So give it a try. See what you think. Hopefully you will start to recognize those moments when you instinctually want to pick up your phone as opportunities to enjoy the moment. Rather than chasing away the boredom, I hope we can learn to embrace it. Who knows? Maybe over time we’ll end up seeing more and more faces at the stop lights and bus stops. Maybe we’ll see more people noticing the moment while sitting in a waiting room or dining in a restaurant.
Food. It’s so much more than simply the calories we consume to breathe another breath, to live another moment. And food is so much more than the flavors and tastes that light up our brains.
Food activates our sense of smell.
How much do you enjoy smelling the turkey and stuffing while it cooks for the Thanksgiving meal?
Food stimulates our sense of touch.
How much more delicious is a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day?
Food captivates our sense of hearing.
How much less satisfying would a potato chip be without the crispy crunch?
Food delights our sense of sight.
How much more do you enjoy a meal with the vibrant colors that leap off a plate?
The following exercise allows you to exercise all you senses to amplify you enjoyment of a winter staple…Hot Chocolate.
Let me take this moment to reassure you. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. None of that judgment is needed here. Read through it all at once. Read the exercise step by step. It’s up to you. Decide what is natural for you. Decide. Then do.
To prepare for this exercise in mindfulness, get your cup of cocoa ready. Go ahead. I’ll be here and wait for you.
So hopefully now you’ve got your hot cocoa in front of you. Get comfy. Find your favorite chair, curl up on the couch, relax in bed. Each step will focus on a different bodily sense. Nice and cozy? Let’s begin.
Cup your hands around your mug. Spend some time noticing the sensations throughout your hand. If the sensations become uncomfortable, notice it and adjust. Where on your palms are you feeling? Where on your fingers are you noticing sensation? What does it feel like? How deep are the sensations? Take a moment and notice these things on the different parts of your hands. Notice texture of the mug. Rough? Smooth? Bumpy? What are you feeling? Once you’ve explored all you are noticing through your sense of touch, place your face and nose over the mug. Try not to breathe. Just notice any sensations on your face as you place it over your mug. What do you feel?
Next, allow your airway to open and slowly draw a breath into your lungs. As the aroma passes into nose, what do you notice? What scents stick out the most? What thoughts cross your mind as you breathe in each gulp? How many different scents can you identify?
Now pull you face back from you mug a bit and just observe the mug and its contents in front of you. What do you notice? Color? Shape? Designs? Describe the mug and the contents. What do you see?
Next, the moment that we’ve been waiting for. Place your lips on the rim and take a sip. What do you notice? Try not to swallow. Just allow it to explore your tongue, your mouth a bit. What flavors are making their presence known? Allow the words to flow from your mind. How do you describe this taste? Now swallow. Are there more ways to describe it now? Are more flavors making themselves known? Take another sip and repeat. Notice your thoughts. What comes to mind?
This time as you swallow, notice the sound. What sounds emanates from your throat? How do you describe that sound? Take another small sip and swallow again. What do you notice? Now sit for a second, unmoving. What sounds are in your immediate environment? Can you hear your cup of hot chocolate? Or are other sounds filling your space? Identify them. Notice them. Invite them into this moment with you.
Now allow yourself to do whatever naturally comes next. Allow your body to make the decision. Don’t think about it too much. Which sense will you focus on again? Focus on the sensations in the moment. Put words to your experience and enjoy the moment.
Continue to naturally enjoy each moment with the cocoa until it’s gone. You’ve allowed yourself to slow down and notice each sensation that can be enjoyed. Hopefully you found the hot chocolate to be more enjoyable with a much richer experience by drinking it mindfully.