When you hear the word “meditation,” what comes to mind? Most people envision a person sitting quietly in a lotus position in a serene location for hours on end. This image causes some people to reject the idea of meditation entirely – they can’t see how they’d fit “sitting serenely” into their hectic schedules. And even if they had the time, some people just don’t enjoy sitting still, and others have chronic body aches and pains or attention challenges.
Thankfully, sitting still is not the only way to develop a mindfulness-based meditation practice.
A lot of the daily activities you’re already doing – brushing your teeth, showering, doing the dishes, folding the clothes, walking the dog, taking a walk, yoga, painting, knitting, just to name a few – can be done in a mindful way, which counts as mindful meditation.
Mindful meditation is all about being present – no matter what the activity. Because we are all so hurried, we often blindly rush through activities and run the risk of missing much along the way. To illustrate mindfulness in motion, let’s investigate the idea of active meditation by exploring the act of washing dishes.
First, you have to prepare your mind. Rather than beginning the task with negative thoughts like, “I hate doing dishes. What a terrible chore,” decide that you’ll observe each and every step of the activity with curiosity and kindness. Then, during the activity, observe any of the following that may surface:
- Bodily sensations (water temperature, stiff neck)
- Feelings (sadness, anger, boredom)
- Thoughts (“I do everything around this house!”)
Do your best not to judge your thoughts, feelings, or bodily sensations during the activity – just try to observe whatever you notice with curiosity and kindness and then go back to washing the dishes. The practice really is about acknowledging any thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without negative self-judgment, and then returning to the practice.
The benefits of these mindfulness-based activities, even though not the traditional practice we often imagine, are the same as the more traditional “sitting quietly” meditation practice – positive body and brain changes, and positive changes in mental health and wellness markers.
If the image of a stereotyped lotus-seated meditating guru isn’t your thing, no worries – you have other options. Pick one or two of your daily activities and follow the practice described above, and experience washing dishes as a mindful meditation in motion!