Mindfulness is like that – it is the miracle that can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each moment of life. – Thich Nhat Hanh
When we find ourselves in a familiar place – slouched into our desk chairs, walking down the same street you see every day, leaning over the kitchen sink with dishes in hand, waking to our second alarm – it can be difficult to be present. We’re experiencing a routine that we have grown accustomed to and it all comes easy (or at least it all comes without much thought for what comes next). It’s point a to point b to point c – without ever needing to pay attention. It’s like when you drive home from work and don’t remember ever driving. We’re on autopilot – our mind is somewhere else – we just want to get it over with, so we can get back to our lives. But that’s not living, at least not living in the way we deserve.
It’s when we’re taken out of this routine that we begin to notice the way it feels to breathe fresh morning air and the taste of the dark roasty goodness in our coffee cup and the vibrant colors of a sunset as it disappears over the horizon. We notice we’re here because it’s somewhere new. It’s an experience we need to process. We’re excited at every turn and dread ever having to return to monotony.
But we don’t have to wait for a vacation or a new adventure to appreciate the moments we would otherwise miss. Our day-to-day lives can be exciting and new and full when we practice mindfulness. It’s not “let’s get this over with,” instead it’s “let’s fully experience this.”
Let vacations and long, wonderful weekends serve as reminders of the life we deserve – one of wonder and exploration and creativity. And then realize that you are the only one keeping yourself from feeling this way every day. We don’t have to mindlessly move from one point to the next; in fact, stop that now. Open your eyes and see each moment, whether a task repeated 200 times before or not, as a brand new moment – one we’ll never get back and one that is worthy of our curiosity and amazement.
This reminder shows us that our lives are lived in the way we choose. And waiting for a break in routine to appear to you is like waiting for your life to begin. The longer you wait, the more you’ll miss. You miss the in between, but you miss more than that. You miss opportunity and moments of peace and beauty occurring despite your moving mindlessly through life.
I am dedicated to raising my mindfulness in the mundane now and anytime I return to “the real world” (whatever that really means) – finding reasons to be grateful at every turn. Scrubbing pans from dinner? I am grateful for this wonderful meal I can afford and enjoy and fill up on. Longing for an escape? I am grateful for the stability I have in my life: good job, wonderful house, loving family, curiosity to this big world around us and drive to better myself. It doesn’t have to always be a lavish night out or luxurious getaway, because there is goodness in every turn. You just have to be there to see it.
When we open our eyes to see it and open our hearts to feel it, we can begin to accept where we are right here and now. And that place, the moment we’re in right now, is the only guarantee we’re given. What better way to spend it than in a joyful and fulfilled state of being.