Gelong Thubten, our author of A Monk’s Guide to Happiness says: Regular meditation training slowly builds positive habits, very much like going to the gym and building muscle. Repetition creates a tendency which yields lasting effects. Our lives are run by habits; in fact, everything we do is both the result of old habits and the creation of new ones. Creating regular short moments of mindful awareness – ‘micro moments’ – are a great first step and can radically transform our lives…
1) Choose two or three mundane actions that you do every day: simple things such as cleaning your teeth, washing your hands, washing-up.
2) Use these actions as mindfulness ‘triggers’: whilst doing them, simply focus on the physicality of the task you’re performing without flying off into a running commentary of thoughts. Normally when we’re washing our hands, for example, we tend to be distracted, but this is a chance to be fully present. The mental commentary will of course start up: ‘This soap smells nice, it smells of roses. My grandmother had roses in her garden – or were they daffodils? I miss my grandmother…’.
3) When you realise you’ve drifted away, bring your attention back to the hand washing, the raw experience of the here and now.
4) Feel the sensations, which means your mind is focused on what you’re doing; feel the movement of your hands, the texture of the soap and the feeling of the water. Focusing on physical movements – use these sensations as ‘pegs’ on which to hang your mindfulness, thus building a habit. Even boring and dreaded activities, such as washing the dishes or ironing, can become quite interesting when you reframe them as opportunities for training the mind.
Who knew? Pass us the Marigolds immediately!