by Dr. Sarah Griesemer on September 14, 2011

In mindfulness meditation, we are often asked to face a familiar experience with “curiousity.” As adults, we sometimes lose track of common childhood experiences such as play and being curious as we fall into routines and responsibilities. I’ve spoken before of the importance of play, and an attitude of curiousity is a childhood experience that is equally as important to maintain as an adult.

When we cultivate an attitude of curiousity, we open ourselves to experience routine activities as something new and wonder-filled. Take as an example your daily shower. You get in the shower, you rinse off, suds up, all the while plotting and planning your day, perhaps lamenting something you didn’t do the day before, and wondering about what tomorrow holds. Suddenly you are done: drying off and getting dressed.

Perhaps, though, you could use this idea of being curious to help create a moment of noticing and calm. Instead of getting caught in the whirlwind of thoughts, let your attention rest on your senses. Allow yourself to be curious about what a shower smells, feels, sounds, looks, even tastes like, as though you have never showered before. Notice the feeling of the water: the temperature, the pressure, the places it touches. Notice the smell of your shower: your soaps and shampoo. Notice the sound of the shower: perhaps the water hitting the wall, or your partner humming a tune, or your child screaming from the next room. Notice the sight before you: the glistening of water on your skin, the way the light hits the drops as they stream out. Perhaps even taste the water, noticing the feeling on your tongue, the warmth or coolness in your mouth…

We have these moments all day long. Moments of routine action that we think through. Our thinking brain derailing our attention from the moment and wrapping it around a fantasy of past or future that prevents us from being present in reality. We spend so much time in this fantasy that we sometimes begin to believe it to be reality. In turn we mistake our thoughts for truth when they are only interpretations. By re-training ourselves to be present in the moment, we cultivate an ability to observe objectively and to detangle ourselves from that jumbled of all-consuming thought.

If you feel that you don’t have time for a meditation practice then try an informal meditation such as this for your practice. Other ideas might be to meditate while doing dishes, or while eating, or while brewing coffee. Choose one routine activity that you do daily, and make it your time to meditate. You will begin to see changes in the way you experience yourself and the world with this practice.

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