To cultivate mindfulness in our daily activities is to re-engage with the present moment. To wake up to what is going on within and around us in the here and now. The practice of mindfulness allows us to switch off auto-pilot and turn on conscious living. There are many ways to integrate mindfulness into our day-to-day schedule – here are some of the ones I personally enjoy:
1. Sitting Meditation. Soon after I wake up in the morning I practice sitting meditation for 20 minutes. I find that starting off my morning with meditation enables me to have a strong foundation for the unfolding of the rest of the day.
2. Bowing to the Earth. I end my sitting meditation with three bows to the earth. I consider these to be a practice in offering gratitude. In my first bow I always say the same thing: I bow to the earth in gratitude for this one precious life. My second and third bows vary from day to day. Sometimes I offer gratitude to my parents and ancestors, my friends and community, or my husband and son. Sometimes I offer gratitude for joy, abundance, the luxuries of electricity, housing, food, or clean water. And sometimes I offer gratitude for the earth, sky, waters, air, sun, and moon. Offering gratitude is important. And I find bowing to be important as well. While kneeling I bend over and prostrate to the earth, resting my forehead down on my meditation cushion, with my hands on the floor, palms facing upwards. Prostrating to the earth is a practice of humbling oneself, of letting go of the ego, of connecting, and of offering reverence.
3. Meal Gratitude. Before each meal I take a moment to stop and connect with the food in front of me and the many conditions present that brought it to my plate I and say a few words of gratitude. If I’m eating with my family at home we take turns saying them aloud but when that isn’t the case (which is much of the time) I simply say them to myself silently. I have a long and short version that I often recite.
Short version: This food is the gift of the whole universe, the earth, the sky, and much hard work.
Long version: This food is the gift of the whole universe, the earth, the sky, and much hard work. May I keep my compassion alive by remembering that there are many people who don’t have enough food to eat or access to clean water, who will die of starvation and malnutrition today. I accept this food with gratitude and reverence for the life I am afforded.