Mindfulness is becoming an increasingly popular devotion in the everyday lives of millennials. It is even the subject of college courses. Mindfulness may bring to mind Buddhist monks chanting on mountaintops, but it is really something much more simple. According to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It is the act of just taking time in a day to stop and pay attention.
Simple time spent with ourselves can be a release from the day’s hustle and bustle, and it can help point us in the direction to where we want to ultimately be. And most importantly, time with ourselves can help us to be non-judgmental. In short, it helps us realize what will make us happy. And, it helps us see what makes others happy.
Stop, Drop, and Think
Being mindful brings us into the most important part of any day: the present.
Meditation and mindfulness are incorporated into just about every form of spirituality as a central practice of the faith. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism all use meditation and mindfulness as a form of devotion. It is the most simple of practices that keep our minds in the present. So while one may not necessarily consider themselves religious or even spiritual, meditating and being mindful goes deeper than religion, and taking the time to really feel and think has lasting positive affects on our minds and bodies. It is a time to have a conversation with ourselves and really be in the present.
With increasing stress comes a need for release and moments of mindfulness are that release. There are many, many ways to be mindful. Meditation, exercise, eating, and even going to the bathroom are all opportunities to retreat from the pressures of everyday life and the stresses we put on ourselves; like worrying about the past or the future. Mindfulness lets us be present and really be in the moment.
We are nowhere else but where we are now.
Anytime we consciously do something and are aware of ourselves doing it, we are being mindful.
Coffee: A Path to the Mind’s Eye
One example of a good moment for meditation and mindfulness is making coffee. Gi Nam Lee is a teacher I work with, as well as a teacher of a course on roasting and brewing coffee. Using his method, dripping coffee is a morning ritual for pleasure, enjoyment, and mental preparation for the day of work ahead.
Mindfulness is all about thinking small. So here is one small example.
Try this and only breathe, think of nothing but the coffee:
Go out and buy some good beans. Whole beans. Smell them and know where they are from, geographically speaking. Buy a small coffee drip; a “pour-over” (I hear they are popular now) style coffee drip. If you are making for one, drip over a mug; for two or more, drip over a pot. Grind the beans and smell. Think of nothing else but smelling the beans. The noises they make in the grinder. Put the coffee in the drip and shake it lightly, notice how the coffee falls into place. Make it level. Always smell. Boil water and put into a pitcher with a good spout. Pour very slowly and evenly. Think of nothing but the pour. Start in the center and spiral out. Wait while the water fills the beans and they swell upwards. Notice the beans absorbing the water; imagine the flavor saturating each drop. Breathe. Smell. Now start a slow continuous pour. For three minutes. No more. Fill the coffee mug or pot to the desired level. Smell the coffee. Notice the flavor on your tongue. What is different about it? What is the same? Enjoy the coffee, black preferably.
The everyday act of making a cup of coffee can be a moment for reflection and ritual. No longer is it just a cup of coffee to jump start your day, it is now a process. Every part of the making process is my choice and I know every part of the process. It is a time to think and mentally be in the present moment making coffee and drinking coffee.
It’s Your Mind, Body and Soul … Get Creative With It
In the hyper-connected lives of millennials, moments of disconnection are becoming more and more important to reduce stress and improve mental health. Anything can be a moment for being mindful -- dripping coffee is just one of them. Mindfulness and meditation are not synonymous with sitting in your room and saying “oommm” for 30 minutes (although you totally could and should try it!).
Mindfulness is just an observation of the present. It turns off the “auto-pilot” that we create in day-to-day activities and brings value to many things once seen as mundane. Being mindful of noises, feelings, tastes, and smells in the present opens up a whole world that we so often take for granted. It is a world of quality, present quality, that should not be taken for granted.
Take a part of your day and make it a ritual. Get used to it, enjoy it, and be present. Feel a moment, smell a moment, hear a moment, taste a moment, see a moment, and enjoy it. The more you practice, the more you will notice.
It will be awesome.