The Magic of Slowing Down

In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about everyday mindfulness and the benefit of slowing down. He talks about holding a cup in your hands or eating a tangerine nice and slow.

When recalling a visit with his friend Jim Forest, the author talks about washing dishes:

“One night, Jim asked if he might do the dishes. I said, ‘Go ahead, but if you wash the dishes you must know the way to wash them.’ Jim replied, ‘Come on, you think I don’t know how to wash the dishes?’ I answered, ‘There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.’ Jim was delighted and said, ‘I choose the second way — to wash the dishes to wash the dishes.’”

The lesson here is that if we’re just going through life and accomplishing the task at hand quickly to move on to the next one, then we’re missing out on the present. Washing the dishes so you have clean dishes to drink tea means that, according to the great teacher, we will not focus on the tea, but on the next thing and the next.

Slowing Down

This week, take the time to slow down and do just one thing at a time. We glorify busy-ness and the ability to multitask, but what would happen if we did just focus on the present moment? Would we have a better conversation with our partner? Might we appreciate the fact that we have dishes in the cabinet on which to eat? Perhaps you’d attune to the world around you a bit more so you can express gratitude even more.

What can you do this week to slow down and experience mindfulness in the moment?

Ways To Slow Down

I know what you’re thinking — how the heck do I slow down? I’m swamped! First of all, pause. Breathe. Consider the following:

What’s one task that you do every day? Think small. Here are some ideas:

· Brushing your teeth

· Making tea or coffee

· Brushing your hair

· Taking a shower

· Packing your lunch or your kids’ lunch

· Taking the dog for a walk

· Folding laundry

· Vacuuming

· Washing the dishes

How can you add mindfulness to ONE task? What might it be like to boost your awareness of each fold of a towel as you do the laundry? What would it be like to just walk the dog? To — gasp! — leave the phone at home, turn off the podcasts, ignore Facebook, and just walk the dog.

Mindfulness is a Habit

Just remember, mindfulness is a habit. And like a gym habit influences what you eat and drink, how much sleep you get, and other healthy decisions in your life, mindfulness will sneak its way into other areas of your day-to-day. Who knows! You might even become more productive and find you have even more “me time” with practice.