This week’s inspiration on being present comes from a mound of garlic. Who knew?
Are there things you put off doing because they feel like such a drag of a chore? Especially when it seems like there are so many more exciting things you could be doing?
That’s what was up for me and a mound of our freshly harvested garlic.
For two weeks I passed by the messy pile of bulbs, dreading the work it would take to clean and trim them.
But last year, I just hung the garlic up in the sun, and as the winter rainy months came, I let it rot. Argh!
Sunday, on my way to meditate in my sunny backyard, there they were again. I stopped. And stared. And in that moment, begrudgingly decided to make the garlic my morning meditation.
As I gathered up my scissors, bowls and scrubby, I let go of the need to be anywhere else.
Informal Mindfulness Practice
Taking an every day task and making it your informal mindfulness practice has so many benefits.
I soon relaxed as I focused on cleaning the garlic. Paying attention to the feel of the dry dirt caked on the garlic’s outer layer in my left hand. Softly scraping off the outer skin and dirt with my right. This wasn’t so bad.
I admit, though, half way through I got tired and even a little bored. I thought about quitting. I was ready with my string of rationales: I’ll finish later. This is plenty. I’ll feed the rest to the chickens.
And like many times in the middle of a meditation practice when I get antsy, I recommit to staying.
Why? Because that’s when I notice that my mind wandered away from the present moment into my “to do” list and planning. I notice that there’s a shift from my calm being to a bit agitated.
And I get to ask myself, Do I let a kind of anxiety run my thoughts and day? Or do I bring myself back to the present moment?
Killingsworth and Gilbert designed a study on the wandering mind using technology to capture participants at random moments during their day. The individuals were asked to report on what they were doing and if their mind was present to that moment. Then they rated their level of happiness.
The results showed not only how much our minds wander, but that the moments of greatest happiness were when participants’ minds were on what they were doing, when they were doing it. No matter what that task was. Even over imagining something more pleasant.
It’s my wandering mind that makes a task a chore.
I drop back into a paying attention, Now, I’m drawn into the uniqueness of each garlic bulb as it reveals it’s beautiful purple under layer.
And I remember why I love growing food. And meditation. It’s a moment I savor.
How you can bring this to work with (and for) you
Cleaning garlic is a simple task. But you can bring this same practice to your every day work tasks and interactions.
By intentionally creating moments to attend to with this level of focus you shift moments of the mundane into moments you can savor.
Choosing your informal mindfulness practice
Here’s your chance to experiment. Take a moment now and think of the tasks you do during your day or situations that are the most mundane or even ones that you find stressful or irritating.
Write them down and look at your list.
Decide on one that you will make your informal mindfulness practice for the week.
- If you work in a clinical setting it might be answering a call light, starting an IV, or responding to a question.
- If you teach, maybe it’s writing or reading an assignment.
- Maybe there’s a meeting that’s trying.
Whatever you choose, let go of your expectations that it’s taking you away from other things of greater import.
Start with a breath and simply pay attention to the details of how you hold your body, the tactile sense of your actions. Let arise the uniqueness of this one moment.
Then notice any changes in how you approach your work and how it’s received by others.
So much love to you and all you do everyday to take care of yourself while taking care of others.