Mindfulness: 37 Everyday Places Where You Can Practice Enjoying the Moment

light through trees in a forest, mindfulness, enjoying the present moment“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Discovering the present moment changed my life.

It was one of those things that in retrospect you wonder how you ever lived without it. About three years ago, I was in the throes of starting my MBA, working full-time, and being a husband and dad to my wife and (at that time) two small children. Life was hectic. I still thought multi-tasking and spreading myself paper-thin was the surest way to succeed.

And then it hit me. I don’t remember how I actually stumbled upon it. But the whole idea of being in control of—and totally enjoying—the present moment instead of fretting over the past or future was eye-opening. I was a serial planner, an über-plot-it-out-and-execute-it kind of guy. I was so busy being busy that I was losing sight of what was right before me.

It was one of the epiphanies that led me to this approach of living ‘deeply’. Living deeply open doors to all kinds of awesome wonders in life. Mindfulness is one of the keys to unlocking those doors.

The great thing about mindfulness is that you don’t have to be doing anything special to practice it. No need for formal meditation; no need for special pillows, incense or mood music; no need to belong to one belief system or another. Just a simple desire to enjoy the present moment.

In my experience, mindfulness works well when you incorporate it into everyday kinds of things. How often do we find ourselves doing one thing yet in our head, we’re a thousand miles away somewhere else. I think it’s the result of this over-the-top stimulation we surround ourselves coupled with the incessant desire to multi-task.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried working mindfulness into all sorts of things. Here are a few ideas that you may want to try too:

1.    Commuting to work
2.    Riding your bike
3.    Washing the dishes
4.    Walking between meetings
5.    Grocery shopping
6.    Playing with your kids
7.    Vacuuming
8.    Working in the garden
9.    Talking with your significant other
10.    Going through your workout
11.    Cooking a meal
12.    Painting
13.    Soothing your child’s boo-boo
14.    Having dinner with friends or family
15.    Taking a shower
16.    Washing the windows
17.    Mowing the lawn
18.    Sipping your tea
19.    Doing a crossword puzzle
20.   Reading
21.    Teaching your child right from wrong
22.    Doing homework
23.    Participating in a meeting
24.    Listening to your parents
25.    Giving your baby a bath
26.    Shaving
27.    Walking the dog(s)
28.    Folding the laundry
29.    Sewing a button
30.    Watching your child’s baseball game
31.    Making a homemade gift
32.    Paying your bills
33.    Fixing a leaky faucet
34.    Creating art or music
35.    Writing
36.    Praying
37.    Meditating

Remember, it takes practice (and patience). Just like training for a marathon or a World Cup match, you need to work through the kinks and keep at it. The mind wants to wander. So if you slip, don’t beat yourself up over it. Take a breath, let go of the extraneous thought and return to the moment. Then smile.

Where else have/could you practice mindfulness? Feel free to add to the list and make it yours.

If you’re interested in other tips for mindful parenting, check out this list of 12 from Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. I have found it extremely useful and inspiring.

Be well,
Bill

If you found this helpful, you could help my writing by taking a (mindful) moment and sharing this post with others. Tweets are great; other social media work well too. If you liked this post, you might also enjoy these:

[Image: mindfulness via flickr]

Comments
9 Responses to “Mindfulness: 37 Everyday Places Where You Can Practice Enjoying the Moment”
  1. Ilham Hafizovic says:

    Great article Bill. I noticed something about your list, most of the items are tasks that actually take time and patience. I think that is the key to being in the moment, not to rush through tasks as almost everyone does sadly in todays over-productive, over-stimulated, & over-consumptive world! Oh and over-multitasked.

    Be well.

  2. Bill Gerlach says:

    Thanks, Ilham. You are absolutely right — having patience really helps! I don’t know if you have kids, but being a parent has been a proving ground of patience from day one. Some days are good, some days could be better. Children have that ability to turn the table — from ‘student’ to ‘teacher — without even knowing it some times. Be well!

  3. Paul F says:

    Bill,

    First, let me state how impressed I am with The New Pursuit – in the professional nature, in the meaningfulness of the message, in the dedication you have to your beliefs. Very well done!

    Two years ago I quit a dream job with no backup plan to speak of. I didn’t find relaxation at that point, but rather three kids with summer fever. I was frustrated with corporate America (even though I leaped back when funds ran out) and confused by societal pressures to push and to succeed. I found that, in general, I was upset with the hold that money has on us and how you cannot simply be.

    Forgive me the cliches. I’m new at this particular subject matter.

    Life rushes past us (my oldest child is nearly nine) and for all those days in the rat race, what have we truly accomplished? What will define us?

    Those that follow will define us. Not what we left, but who. Don’t get me wrong – after nine years I learn parenting every day and make more mistakes than anyone. But if we can’t slow down and appreciate our children and the experience offered us as parents – Wow, what an opportunity!

    Breathe deep, exhale fully, force your muscles to relax. The demanding client in your thankless job isn’t worth an ulcer or an anneurysm (sp).

    Again, congrats on this endeavour. I’d love to hear the set up process of this site.

    ~PF

  4. Bill Gerlach says:

    Paul // Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. You have two more years of parenting experience than me, but I totally agree: Each day is a new day to experience, to make mistakes, to learn, and to cherish. It’s about the overall journey and what you get out of it all. Let’s connect on FB to talk more. Be well!

  5. Stephen Dill says:

    Bill, this is what Eckhart Tolle has written two books about: “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth.” Highly recommend them both, though either one addresses your issue of living in the moment.

  6. Bill Gerlach says:

    Hi Stephen // I read “A New Earth” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Tolle has a great writing style, but I value his content because of his ability to take from a wide variety of spiritual traditions, finding value in each one.

    For me, it gets to my belief that most of us are working towards the same end (e.g., peace, love, a greater sense of place and belonging) so the means by which we get there shouldn’t matter. We should all respect what ‘works’ for the other person and not try so hard to persuade us to follow their set of rules or dogma.

    Thanks for stopping by — I appreciate it!

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