Mindfulness Brings Joy
Jenn Otsuki
August 31, 2021
September 19, 2021
Be Inspired

Meditation sounds simple enough - ‘sit and do nothing’ - but the more I tried, the less attainable it felt.  Even knowing the benefits, I still struggled to get into the  headspace. I would have so many racing thoughts flying around my head. This made my attempt to meditate feel like someone saying to me “Don’t think about a cookie. Do not think about that cookie!” What was I thinking about? A gooey, delicious, chocolate chip cookie. Which led me to think about baking cookies. Which led me to replay my never-ending to do list and on and on.  

Since then, I’ve learned that meditation doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience of trying to silence my monkey mind with a few om’s and deep breaths. It isn’t about forcing yourself to think about nothing (there’s that darn cookie again!); it’s about letting go and not over thinking. It begins with mindfulness and ends with calling yourself back to the present moment. Maybe once or maybe a hundred times.

I find a bit of movement helps me to slow down and be mindful which I believe is a step towards a meditation practice. My role as Retreat Chef is a meditation practice in many ways. 

In kitchens with the non-stop stimuli of constant chatter, pots clanking and sizzling, knives chopping, ticket machines beeping, and so on;  there is no time to focus attention on any one thing. Part of the job is to constantly look ahead at the next task to remain prepared.

While working alone in the retreat kitchen, I observe my actions clearly without the distractions and noise of a restaurant kitchen. When my mind starts to skip ahead to my next duty, I remind myself of the privilege of performing even mundane tasks such as peeling garlic. It is those times when I’m drifting  ahead and feeling the anxiety creep in, that I call myself back to the present and find joy in the moment.  

Those moments remind me that small and intentional changes in my thought patterns can have a profound effect on my life. 

Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more. ~ Mother Theresa
10 opportunities to practice mindfulness daily
  • While brushing your teeth.  A simple 2 minutes to be present in your self-care.
  • Sit with your coffee or morning tea and think of 2-3 things you are grateful for.
  • Allow yourself a few moments before starting  your car in the morning. Take  five  deep breaths while thinking of what you’re grateful for.
  • Enjoy  a piece of fruit for a snack- but before you bite into it, allow yourself a few moments to sit with it, examine it, imagine the taste before diving in, and be grateful for the nourishment you get from it.  Mindful eating is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness.
  • Take a short walk-through nature and avoid the urge to use your phone. Pay attention to the sounds around you, even if it is the sounds of a buzzing city.
  • Practice driving mindfully. With the music off and windows up, absorb the silence and repetition of the task at hand, to be present in the moment.
  • Focus your attention on actively listening to your partner or kids at a time when you would typically attempt to multitask.
  • Make time for a lengthy savasana at the end of a gentle yoga practice.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine and take a moment to smell, sip and savor it.  
  • Perform a body scan as part of your nightly routine. Are your feet sore? Be thankful that they carried you through your day. Are your sheets extra cozy? Consider being grateful for clean sheet day and what that means to you. 

I invite you to bring mindfulness into your daily life in one of these small ways. If you’re like me, you’ll realize how just a few moments a day can bring you from “mindlessness” to “mindfulness.”

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