Yesterday I had a hankering for freshly toasted sesame seeds in my salad. As I sprinkled those cream-beige morsels into my skillet, I could almost taste their nutty, exotic flavor.
I turned on the heat & also immediately turned on thoughts of my husband’s vibrant garden that would be supplying the fresh greens I’d soon be enjoying. Within seconds, the seeds’ pale hue deepened to golden & I realized they’d be scorched if I didn’t focus & act fast.
Picture Mexican Jumping Beans. I began frantically scooping & redistributing, scooping & redistributing. But those little devils did their own redistributing, leaping defiantly up & out of the pan.
Hmmm, I mused… they’re just like my mind, stubborn & willful… robust in flavor & especially when toasted, a great source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, plant compounds… cleaning compounds—Did I remember to put BonAmi on the grocery list?
DAMN—I did it again, my mind reflected as much of a frenzied dance as these sesame seeds, which were now scattering all over the stove, countertop & floor! Thankfully, I was able to salvage some of them. OK, full disclosure: I decided to give myself a break & salvage most of them. (A few seconds on a relatively clean floor wouldn’t hurt anyone. 🙃)
My experience with these seeds highlights the challenge we all face in our nonstop, frenetic, multi-tasking world: mindLESSness. We miss & waste so many precious moments (& sometimes seeds) when we don’t pay attention. The way out? A “mindfulness” practice–which means deliberately paying attention to what’s going on around & within us; & it helps if it’s done in a spirit of curiosity & non-judgement. Mindfulness can be formal, as in meditation, or informal, as in focusing on everyday tasks as simple as drinking our cup of java, making our bed, or preparing condiments for salads.
As my culinary fiasco illustrates, vigilant mindfulness is challenging. It’s also worth the effort! My own formal & informal practice over the decades has increased my awareness & compassion more than I could ever have experienced otherwise. I’ve found that informal mindfulness is the single most powerful way of maximizing my day; it also greatly encourages gratitude, which is so important as we’re trying to deal with anxiety & loss.
Over the last 40 years, more than 6,000 peer-reviewed scholarly articles have been published that examine the benefits of formal mindfulness, meditation. Research shows that meditating for at least 10 minutes each day can significantly lower stress, anxiety, blood pressure & even inflammation & cognitive decline; it can also increase or improve self-awareness & compassion, pain management, sleep, mood & emotional control.
The reality: Effective mindfulness requires regular practice, much like a serious exercise or eating program. The surest (& fastest) way that discipline develops is summed up in one word: SUPPORT. If you’re interested in any of the outcomes I just listed, & you recognize you could use education, encouragement & accountability as you’re developing a mindfulness practice, formal or informal, I’m here, happy to help, & can be reached @ www.journeystohealing.com or [email protected].
My best for your wellness journey,