Below is a list of ways I practice mindfulness or things that have prepared or taught me how to practice mindfulness in my life. And if it's December, obviously I will incorporate a Christmassy word in the title. It's only right.
1. Logging on to the Internet when I was a teenager. Getting the Internet was a BIG FREAKIN' DEAL. We knew it was a game-changer and it was awesome to be there at the beginning, especially as a teen. My early memories are when America Online would send discs in the mail where you could download AOL and have email and then eventually start paying for it. Paying for something you download on a disc was like whaaat? back then. So my family didn't do it. What my parents did do, however, was start with WebTV. I think they were scared of having the internet on a computer tucked away in a room with a door that closed. So we logged on our television and scrolled through the letters to input any kind of web address. It was tedious, but an awful lot like the Apple TV these days. Every couple of months or so, Sean and I like to bring up the WebTV connection when doing that, in a nostalgic kind of way. Julian doesn't get it, and he never will.
But then when we got Internet on the computer, we had a modem, and we dialed in through the phone line, or whatever. Oh yeah- "dial-up" it was called. And I remember having this thought, when watching the movie You've Got Mail when she sits down to log on and her modem takes like ONE SECOND to connect, of-- yyeaaahhh riiiight! I was frustrated by how NOT "real life" that was. In reality, it took that thing sooooo loooooong to connect. And the horrible scratchy alien robot sounds it made while connecting were so punishing, and all you could do is sit and listen and wait. Just wait. Wait it out. Internet will come soon. Patience. Wait and be super zen while having to endure that unearthly noise, as depicted in this hilarious and weirdly nostalgic video. The feelings from hearing this sound. So weird.
I have such a special appreciation for the people who post things like this on YouTube.
2. Opening grocery store produce bags. This is particularly true in Trader Joe's, whose bags feel like sloughed angels' skin (again- you're welcome). So soft and fine, you have to actually look and check to make sure it's still in your hands. They're compostable, so it's cool, but they take an inordinate amount of time and effort to open. Some people might have tricks like wetting their fingers somehow. In fact, I think TJ's even started putting out pump bottles of water. But I opt to just park it for a minute and use it as an opportunity to reflect on life, goals, dreams, memories, etc while my fingers work to find the unfindable opening with the steady hands and meticulation of a surgeon. It's a long, slow process. But oh, how great the reward when I get it open and fill it with lemons. Because I had to work so hard and also, lemons.
3. Filling up a water glass. I like to drink great gallon-sized glasses (exaggeration) of water at a time so I spend about 20* seconds just standing there doing nothing as my glass fills. This may not sound like very long to you. But when's the last time you were held to a place, unable to move or do anything else for 20 seconds? Think about it. Do it now. Stand up with your hand out in front of you. Count to 20. You will feel the time substantially slowing down and almost stand still. I use this time to just think. I think about my day. I think about hydration. I think about how I feel in my body since I'm just standing and often that draws attention to things--aches and weird feelings and how my foot strength is doing. Sometimes I'll do a weird squat while standing on my toes. Just wanted to leave you with that weird visual before moving on to the next one. You're welcome. It's fun to do because when I stand back up (on the toes) I feel eight feet tall.
*probably more like 15.
4. Remember how showering is the best place to think thoughts? I know this one is pretty standard but I am astounded lately at how many ideas I get in the shower. It's almost immediate. It's like my brain was just begging for me to do something with mindless movement. Ideas for writing, ideas for things to do with people, ideas of projects, activities, plans, inventions! They are bounteous and I forget most of them but honestly, it is remarkable. I think I need a waterproof dry erase board. Speaking of cool inventions.
5. Waiting for the garage door to open, should it happen, upon my return. Our garage antenna is either really tiny, obscured, or actually a shoelace, because this thing is so spotty, it's turned us all into superstitious idiots when we come home, frantically pressing the button, hoping upon hope it works so we don't have to get out in the cold and punch in the code like wild animals. "I pushed it with this amount of pressure, slightly to the left last time! You have to do it that way!" Julian is convinced he alone holds the secret to the garage door button. I myself say a small prayer and then resign to whatever happens. Sometimes I'll take a minute to scroll through my phone, do some marco polo'ing, just sit and think. But knowing I may be here a while, against my will, (or at least according to my laziness) changes things. Sometimes I'll text someone to open it for me. Sometimes--heaven forbid-- I'll actually get out of the car and open it. One time even the keypad didn't work and I had to walk through the front door and go around to the garage to hit the actual button--I KNOW. But sometimes it works after several minutes of sitting and waiting, and I know that this is the way and location I'm going to discover the cure for cancer. Whilst Marco polo'ing.
6. Waiting for a child to do anything...anything at all. Anytime I'm with a child. I kind of zen out and really live in the moment. I slow everything down around me to match the new rate of the passing of time. My breathing, my thoughts. I use it as an opportunity to just be still, observe. And as I do so, I am able to touch eternity. Because that's how long it generally takes a precious child to do something. It is truly remarkable. What a gift.