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Waiter collects thousands of sculptures from customers as a form of tipping

In Japan, it’s not customary to leave a tip. However, many customers leave behind tiny sculptures made from chopstick sleeves. Yuki Tatsumi, a waiter-turned-artist, has collected more than 13,000 of … Read more

The post Waiter collects thousands of sculptures from customers as a form of tipping appeared first on Lost At E Minor: For creative people.


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5 Reasons Hibernating During Winter Is Good for You

Tamara Lechnerwoman relaxing with a cup of tea

The winter blahs can certainly get you feeling sleepy, lethargic, and downright uninspired. It’s cold and dark, and people tend to get worn down from the holiday festivities. Rather than fighting the feeling that tells you to hibernate, why not listen to your body?

According to Ayurvedic doctor Virender Sodhi, “Your body is nature’s pharmacy, it has everything you need to be healthy.” This refers to the process of listening to the signals that your body gives you and then acting on them. So, what does your body actually need when it’s saying “Binge eat!”, “Stay indoors!”, or “Crawl under a pile of blankets and watch rom coms!”?

Rest More

If you follow nature’s cues, days are shorter and nights are longer. This could indicate that a longer sleep time is necessary. When you feel tired and yet it’s only 8:30 p.m., that’s not time to muscle through and keep working, it’s time to feel your body and recognize ‘If I feel like it’s a lot later than 8:30, what can I do about this? Maybe I should go to bed?’

Getting a full night’s rest isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a smart way to feel better and be healthier. A sure sign you need more sleep is if you are waking up already tired. Aim to get to bed early enough that you can wake up on your own without an alarm clock.

Wrap Up

Crawling under layers of blankets can be a sign that your body is just not at its peak temperature. For some people, a warm snuggly blanket feels like a hug from a friend. If you check in with why you want that blanket on, maybe you’re trying to soothe yourself or maybe you are actually cold. When you have that desire to start snuggling under blankets, check to see what the temperature of your fingers and toes is. Then check your ears and nose. If these extremities are actually physically cold, it’s no wonder you want a blanket!

But what if you’re not cold? What if everything feels warm and you still have this desire? Maybe you need the emotional support a hug or the physical touch of a snuggle. A massage might be in order.

Eat Well

Humans seem to be slaves to their food cravings in these wintry months. This is a time to listen to your body. Be a detective. Think about what is it asking you to eat and then find a natural healthy alternative. If you’re craving potato chips, you could try plantain chips instead. If you’re to craving chocolate, you could try carob mint bites. Your body is trying to tell you something; however, if your pattern in the past has been a quick hit of sugar, starch, or salt to fix this craving, you need to pay close attention to retrain those patterns. Winter is a time for warm, hearty, and healthy foods like stews and curries.

In Deepak Chopra’s book, What Are You Hungry For?, he offers vision of weight loss based on a deeper awareness of eating patterns. Trying to find satisfaction through food is never a healthy substitute for real fulfillment.

Go Outside

The days are shorter and sometimes this means your morning run or your evening dog walk are missed. Instead of removing these moments where you get fresh air, natural light, and exercise from your day, try to make time to get outside regularly during your lunch break or in the late afternoon. Schedule it! It is easier to accomplish something when it is on your calendar. The time outside will help you to feel less sloth-like.

Spend Some Time Alone

The last thing you might consider about having the feeling that you want to hibernate is that it may be a sign that you need some alone time. The holidays are filled with parties, dinners, shopping malls, and airports packed with people. After this overstimulation it’s okay for you to want some time alone. Just because you love your family or enjoy your colleagues, it doesn’t mean you want to be with them all day, every day. If you’re feeling the need for space give it to yourself. Alone and lonely are not the same. Spending some time alone can feel luxurious.

Cocooning in the winter means you can be freshly reborn in spring. Be gentle with yourself when you feel lazy. It doesn’t help at all to berate yourself for your lack of energy or inspiration. Stay cozy, fuel yourself with good food, and give yourself big bear hug. When you are ready, you can emerge revitalized and ready for great things.

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How to Be Your Own Medical Advocate

Deepak Chopra, M.D.Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D.patient with doctor

When the average person goes to the doctor, shows up at the ER, or enters the hospital, the possibility of controlling what happens next is minimal. We put ourselves in the hands of the medical machine, which in reality rests upon individual people—doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, and so on. Human behavior involves lapses and mistakes, and these get magnified in medical care, where misreading a patient’s chart or failing to notice a specific symptom can be a matter of life and death. The riskiness of high-tech medicine like gene therapy and toxic cancer treatments is dramatically increased because there is a wider range of mistakes the more complex any treatment is. To be fair, doctors do their utmost to save patients who would have been left to die a generation ago, but they are successful only a percentage of the time.

Risk and mistakes go together, but the general public has limited knowledge of the disturbing facts:

• Medical errors are estimated to cause up to 440,000 deaths per year in U.S. hospitals alone. It is widely believed that this figure could be grossly inaccurate, because countless mistakes go unreported—death reports offer only the immediate cause, and many doctors band together to protect the reputation of their profession.

• The total direct expense of “adverse events,” as medical mistakes are known, is estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

• Indirect expenses such as lost economic productivity from premature death and unnecessary illness exceeds $1 trillion per year.

Statistics barely touch upon the fear involved when any patient thinks about being at the wrong end of a medical mistake. What the patient is all too aware of is the doctor visit that goes by in the blink of an eye. A 2007 analysis of optimal primary-care visits found that they last 16 minutes on average. From 1 to 5 minutes is spent discussing each topic that’s raised. This figure is at the high end of estimates, given that according to other studies, the actual face-to-face time spent with a doctor or other health-care provider comes down to 7 minutes on average. Doctors place the primary blame on increasing demands for them to fill out medical reports and detailed insurance claims. Patients tend to believe that doctors want to cram in as many paying customers as they can, or simply that the patient as a person doesn’t matter very much.

As a result there’s a new movement afoot to provide a personal advocate who stays in the doctor’s office with the patient. The advocate is basically someone who represents the patient’s best interests in any medical situation. The person might be a well-meaning relative who helps an older patient understand what’s going on, or who steps in to do attendant tasks like picking up prescriptions and organizing medical bills. But more and more one sees the need for an advocate who is professionally trained to buffer the mounting risks in a health-care system in which less and less time is spent between doctor and patient. 

It would be up to an advocate to find out, and needless to say, this has created hostility from some doctors. Used to ruling their domain with absolute authority, few doctors want an overseer in the room asking questions, inserting their own opinions, and potentially finding fault. At worst, the specter of a malpractice suit looms. The movement for professional advocates, which is quite young, insists that looking out for a patient’s best interests is benign. The medical profession has its doubts.

The upshot, for now at least, is that patients who want an advocate must play the role themselves. At the heart of the problem is passivity. When we surrender to medical care, whether at the doctor’s office, the ER, or the hospital, we shouldn’t surrender everything. Poking and prodding is intrusive. Undergoing various tests can be stressful. The minute we walk in the door, we become largely anonymous—a walking set of symptoms replaces the person. There are doctors and nurses who take these negative effects seriously and who go out of their way to offer a personal touch. They should be saluted for their humane compassion in a system that focuses more on impersonal efficiency.

You may like your doctor and feel that he cares, but this doesn’t rule out being your own advocate. Quite the opposite—the inherent stress in medical treatment is what you want to counter. First comes the stress of worry and anticipation, what is commonly known as white-coat syndrome. We all remember how afraid we became as children thinking about getting a shot from the school nurse or how scary it was sitting in the dentist’s chair even before the drill was turned on. Studies have verified that anticipating a stressful situation can cause as great a stress response as actually undergoing the stress. In one study subjects were divided into two groups, one of which gave a public speech while the other was told that they were going to give a speech but actually didn’t. Both groups became stressed out, but the researchers wanted to measure how well they recovered from the stress.

Knowing that you are going to be in a stressful situation, there are a number of ways to feel more in control:

Be informed about your illness. Don’t relinquish your opportunity to find out exactly what is wrong with you. This doesn’t mean you should challenge your doctor. If you feel the need to inform your doctor about something you saw online, you aren’t being confrontational, and most doctors are now used to well-informed patients.
If the illness isn’t temporary and minor, contact someone else who is going through the same diagnosis and treatment as you. This may involve a support group, of which many exist online, or simply talking to another patient in the waiting room or hospital.
If you are facing a protracted illness, become part of a support group, either locally or online.
Keep a journal of your health challenge and the progress you are making toward being healed.
Seek emotional support from a friend or confidant who is empathic and who wants to help (in other words, don’t lean upon someone who is merely putting up with you).
Establish a personal bond with someone who is part of your care—nurses and physician’s assistants are typically more accessible and have more time than doctors. Ideally, this bond should be based on something the two of you share—family children, hobbies, outside interests—not simply your illness.
Resist the temptation to suffer in silence and to go it alone. Isolation brings a false sense of control. What actually works is to maintain a normal life and social contacts as much as possible.

Following these steps will go a long way to achieving the goal of patient advocacy, which is to serve the patient’s best interests at all times. But there remains a difficult unknown, the possibility of a medical error. 

Seeing the doctor involves personal interaction, and it’s important to reduce any possible friction. Here are a few pointers:

Do
Be involved in your own care.
Inform the doctor and nurses that you like to be involved.
Ask for extra information when you need it.
Ask for a questionable event, like a pill you aren’t sure is the right one, to be checked with the doctor.
Tell somebody if you have gone out of your comfort zone.
Remain polite in all of the above.
Praise the doctor and nurses when it’s called for. A show of gratitude doesn’t go amiss
Don’t
Don’t act hostile, suspicious, or demanding.
Don’t challenge the competency of doctors and nurses.
Don’t nag or whine, no matter how anxious you are. Reserve these feelings for someone in your family, a friend, or a member of a support group.
Don’t pretend you know as much (or more) than the people who are treating you.
Don’t, when hospitalized, repeatedly press the call button or run to the nurses’ station.

Trust their routine. Realize that the main reason patients call a nurse is more out of anxiety than out of real need.

Don’t play the part of a victim. Show your caregivers that you are maintaining a normal sense of security, control, and good cheer even under trying circumstances.

Probably the most important finding about medical mistakes is that they are frequently caused by lack of communication. 

In our new book The Healing Self we delve into patient advocacy in more detail as well as covering the expanding role of self-healing, which is going to only become more important in the coming decades. 

References:

Brennan TA, Leape LL, Laird NM, et al. Incidence of adverse events and negligence in hospitalized patients. Results of the Harvard Medical Practice Study I. N Engl J Med 1991;324:370–6. 
Kohn LT, Corrigan J, Donaldson MS. To err is human: building a safer health system. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 2000.
Department of Health and Human Services. Adverse events in hospitals: national incidence among Medicare beneficiaries. 2010. http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-09-00090.pdf.
A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care James, John T. PhD Journal of Patient Safety: September 2013 – Volume 9 – Issue 3 – p 122–128. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e3182948a69
Makary MA, Daniel M. Medical error-the third leading cause of death in the US. BMJ 2016;353:i2139. doi:10.1136/bmj.i2139
Measurement of patient safety: a systematic review of the reliability and validity of adverse event detection with record review. Mirelle Hanskamp-Sebregts, Marieke Zegers, Charles Vincent, Petra J van Gurp, Henrica C W de Vet, Hub WollersheimPublished 22 August, 2016 http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/8/e011078.full
Weismann JS, Schneider EC, Weingart SN, et al. Comparing patient-reported hospital adverse events with medical records reviews: Do patients know something that hospitals do not? Ann Intern Med. 2008; 149: 100–108.
Overview of medical errors and adverse events. Maité Garrouste-Orgeas François Philippart, Cédric Bruel, Adeline Max, Nicolas Lau and B Misset Annals of Intensive Care 20122:2. DOI: 10.1186/2110-5820-2-2 Published 16 February 2012
Valentin A, Capuzzo M, Guidet B, Moreno R, Metnitz B, Bauer P, Metnitz P: Errors in administration of parenteral drugs in intensive care units: multinational prospective study. BMJ 2009, 338: b814. 10.1136/bmj.b814
Ridley SA, Booth SA, Thompson CM: Prescription errors in UK critical care units. Anaesthesia 2004, 59: 1193–1200. 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2004.03969.x
Garrouste-Orgeas M, Timsit JF, Vesin A, Schwebel C, Arnodo P, Lefrant JY, Souweine B, Tabah A, Charpentier J, Gontier O, et al.: Selected medical errors in the intensive care unit: results of the IATROREF study: parts I and II on behalf of the Outcomerea study group. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010, 181: 134–142. 10.1164/rccm.200812-1820OC
Garrouste-Orgeas M, Soufir L, Tabah A, Schwebel C, Vesin A, Adrie C, Thuong M, Timsit JF: A multifaceted program for improving quality of care in ICUs (IATROREF STUDY) on behalf of the Outcomerea study group. Critical Care Med, in press.
Overview of medical errors and adverse events. Maité Garrouste-Orgeas, François Philippart, Cédric Bruel, Adeline Max, Nicolas Lau and B Misset Annals of Intensive Care20122:2. DOI: 10.1186/2110-5820-2-2 Published 16 February 2012
Kennerly DA, Kudyakov R, da Graca B, et al. Characterization of adverse events detected in a large health care delivery system using an enhanced Global Trigger Tool over a five-year interval. Health Serv Res 2014;49:1407–25. doi:10.1111/1475-6773.12163 Google Scholar
Rutberg H, Borgstedt Risberg M, Sjodahl R, et al. Characterisations of adverse events detected in a university hospital: a 4-year study using the Global Trigger Tool method. BMJ Open 2014;4:e004879. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-004879
Christiaans-Dingelhoff I, Smits M, Zwaan L, et al. To what extent are adverse events found in patient records reported by patients and healthcare professionals via complaints, claims and incident reports? BMC Health Serv Res 2011;11:49. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-49 [CrossRef][Medline]Google Scholar
Classen DC, Resar R, Griffin F, et al. ‘Global Trigger Tool’ shows that adverse events in hospitals may be ten times greater than previously measured. Health Aff (Millwood) 2011;30:581–9. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0190
Sari AB, Sheldon TA, Cracknell A, et al. Extent, nature and consequences of adverse events: results of a retrospective casenote review in a large NHS hospital. Qual Saf 
J Health Care Finance. 2012 Fall;39(1):39-50.
The economics of health care quality and medical errors. Andel C1, Davidow SL, Hollander M, Moreno DA. 
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30 Quotes to Start Your Day Off Right

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Morning routines set the tone for your day. Common ways to begin your day include meditation, exercise, or a gratitude practice, like taking a few minutes to read and reflect on a quote. This has been a stimulating practice that I have added to my morning.

I love quotes that get my mind working and challenge my beliefs. I have played with quotes following a monthly theme or ones that come from a single author. I also enjoy choosing a period of time or quotes from musicians or artists. The daily habit of reflecting on someone’s words, examining how they fit or don’t fit with your own belief system, and sitting with them is a fabulous way to begin a day.

Here are 30 days of quotes to get you started off right.

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
“If I want to be accepted as I am then I need to be willing to accept others as they are. – Louise Hay
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
“Greatness is hearing your truth and speaking it no matter how your voice shakes.” – Mel Robbins
“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” – Brene Brown
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – Dalai Lama
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” – Virginia Woolf
“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The words you speak become the house you live in.” – Hafiz
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung
“There was nothing better than purpose to make time pass quickly and give one a sense of worth.” – Iris Johansen
“Instead of asking, ‘What do I want from life?’ a more powerful question is ‘What does life want from me?’” – Eckhart Tolle
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thick Nhat Than
“Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer
“A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it’s a whisper.” – Barry Neil Kaufman
“Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes a part of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. Out goes naivete, in comes wisdom; out goes anger, in comes discernment; out goes despair, in comes kindness. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive and expansive… The pain leaves you healthier than it found you.” – Martha Beck
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” – Danielle LaPorte
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin 
“While you’ll feel compelled to charge forward it’s often a gentle step back that will reveal to you where you and what you truly seek.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.” – Alan Cohen
“A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.” – Roald Dahl
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.” – William James
“She quietly expected great things to happen to her, and no doubt that’s one of the reasons why they did.” – Zelda Fitzgerald
“Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone ‘safe.’” – Elizabeth Gilbert
“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” – Kahlil Gibran
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5 Meal-Prep Tips to Help You Plan for a Healthy Week

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Being prepared for a week of healthy eating can be a daunting task. We’ve all seen photos of the ‘perfect’ fridge stacked with meals for the whole week. While this strategy works for a small percentage of people, it is overwhelming and unrealistic for everyone else. Yet, you know that when there is no healthy food prepared in the fridge you are less likely to make healthy choices. So how do you find a balance between being over prepared and not prepared at all?

The answer is simple: implement a meal preparation process, also known as meal prepping.

Meal Prepping

Meal prepping is different to meal planning because you are not actually cooking any full meals for the week. Meal prepping entails getting several food items ready on the weekend so that you can reduce your cooking time during the week and have some easy grab-and-go lunch options.

Once you get a system in place that works for you it becomes a really simple process that doesn’t have to take over your entire Sunday afternoon. With a little bit of meal prepping, you will be eating healthy meals while saving time in the kitchen and money that would usually be spent on take-out or letting groceries go to waste.

1. Plan a Meal Prep Schedule

Successful meal prepping relies on you getting into a routine process that works with your schedule and needs. Here is an example you can start with:

Set aside 2 hours on a Saturday or Sunday.
Decide what you are going to make for the week. Start by picking one snack, one side dish, and one protein for the week. After you get comfortable with the meal prepping process, increase to two snacks, two side dishes, and two protein options.
Write down a grocery list for the items that you need.
Go grocery shopping.
Chop up your vegetables and cook your side dish and choice of protein.
Package up your food in glass Tupperware and put them in the fridge. (Glass Tupperware is recommended instead of plastic Tupperware to help prevent BPA from the plastic leaching into your food. It also lasts longer than the plastic Tupperware.)
2. Prioritize the Time-Intensive Foods

Before you start cooking, it is helpful to think about which foods are going to take the longest to cook. Get those items started first and then you can cook multiple items at the same time instead of cooking everything separately.

For example, while you have quinoa cooking on the stove, you could have sweet potatoes in the oven and be chopping vegetables while both of those items are cooking. Or, you could have multiple items cooking in the oven at the same time like roasted vegetables, egg muffins, and chicken breasts.

3. Keep a Recipe Book On Hand

It is also helpful to keep a folder in your kitchen with recipes so that you have everything in one place. If you are switching between magazines, cookbooks, and recipes on your computer, it is going to take you a lot longer to figure out what you want to make. This recipe folder will help you to keep variety each week so that you don’t get bored of eating the same foods all the time. 

4. Try Simple Meals First

When cooking meals for during the week, don’t worry about making it fancy. Even if you are not cooking a gourmet meal, it doesn’t mean that your food needs to be bland or boring—make sure to add fresh herbs, spices, citrus, garlic, and/or onion to boost the flavor of your meals. Having a pesto, hummus, or marinara sauce prepared ahead of time will also be great flavor additions.

Here are some common meal preparation ideas to help get you started:

Hard-boiled eggs
Egg and vegetable muffins
Smoothie prep (measure out fruit and protein powder into bags)
Brown rice or wild rice
Quinoa
Black beans
Roasted sweet potatoes
Roasted butternut squash
Roasted spaghetti squash
Homemade pesto or hummus
Soups
Organic grilled or roasted chicken
Crockpot pulled chicken, beef, or pork
Tuna salad
Egg salad
Chopped up vegetables (celery, cucumber, carrots, bell peppers)
Chia pudding
Homemade trail mix (almonds, walnuts, pecans, goji berried, shredded coconut)
Fruit salad
Salads for grab-and-go lunch (don’t put salad dressing on until you are ready to eat)

All of the items listed above will last in your fridge for at least four days.

5. Add Date Labels to Your Food

Depending on how much food you are making, it can be helpful to put a label on your Tupperware with the date that you cooked the food so that you know when it’s time to throw it out.

Now when you come home after a long day of work, you won’t be tempted to order take-out or throw together a quick pasta dish. It will take you just as much time if not less to put together an easy meal because you have part of your meal prepared ahead of time. Planning ahead will give you more time freedom during the week so that you can enjoy the activities that you enjoy doing instead of spending extra time in the kitchen.

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Everyday Mindfulness: 7 Steps to Deepening Presence in Daily Activities

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Establishing a formal meditation practice is a powerful way to tap into stillness, manage stress, enhance your overall well-being, and explore the spiritual layers of life. Dedicating time daily to practice meditation creates a habitual retreat into stillness that can serve as an anchor to a deeper level of awareness and keep you from drifting too far out to sea in the turbulent and chaotic activity of daily life. A regular, daily practice is ideal, but with busy lives it can sometimes be challenging to make the time to sit down and meditate.

Fortunately, with some minor tweaks to your attention, everyday activities can become a fertile field for cultivating awareness and present-moment witnessing. It becomes a matter not of what activity you’re engaged in, but rather the quality of attention you bring to that activity. When you begin to shift out of your repetitive thought stream, any activity can become a more conscious and profound experience. Let’s explore the following steps as tools to make everyday experiences more mindful.

1. Intend to Infuse Your Activity with Attention

Think of anything you do on a daily basis and ask yourself how often you set a clear intention prior to beginning that task. Your intention is an almost subconscious autopilot that runs behind the scenes. However, if you bring forth a conscious intention for the activity you’re engaging in, it will activate additional attention on what it is you’re doing. Better yet is to have the intention for increased attention on the task at hand. Begin your activity with the following affirmation: I am awake and aware; I choose to be fully present as I ___________.

2. Be Aware of Your Breathing 

One of the reasons so many meditation traditions focus on the breath is because it is always with you; as long as you live, you breathe. The breath, therefore, is an ever-present anchor to the present moment. By bringing your awareness into the fullness of each breath, you ground yourself in the here and now. Deep, full breathing calms the mind, soothes the body, and takes you into the timelessness eternity of each moment. In the middle of any activity that is pulling your mind into the past or the future, settle into your breath and come home to the now.

3. Place Your Attention in Your Body 

It’s important to remember that you don’t have a body and a mind—you have a bodymind. The bodymind is a unified, inseparable whole being that is in a state of constant communication with itself at every level. Described by the yogic sage Patanjali as the Annamaya Kosha, the physical body is the sheath or layer of life made of food that serves as your most intimate instrument for experiencing the physical world. When you shift your attention to your body, you begin to eavesdrop on a symphony of sensations, textures, pressures, temperatures, and movements. Think about it, nearly all of your waking energy is directed outward. When you turn your awareness inward (as you do during the practice of yoga), you begin to have a genuine in-body experience. Feeling the body during any activity or experience helps you to be more mindful and aware of the here and now.

4. Focus on One (or More) of Your Senses  

Your sense organs are gateways through which the external world is metabolized into your own subjective experience. Each sense is a wonder to behold, a universe in itself. By shifting all your attention to the input received by one specific sense, you become aware of all the subtle nuances, vibrations, and levels contained within just one small sliver of your perceptual apparatus. You also begin to recognize the sheer magnitude of information pouring into your senses at any given moment. This blend of sensory impressions is totally unique, moment by moment. It has never been before and will never come again, so be sure to give it your most precious resource—attention.

5. Notice the Details  

Look around you. What do you see? At first glance you may see objects or people in your environment, the large ‟stuff” of the material universe. But look deeper. Everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel is made up of molecules, atoms, vibration of energy within an infinite field of consciousness. Details stacked upon details organized in hierarchies from the invisibly small to mind- bogglingly large, all governed by the laws of nature. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, let your awareness penetrate deeply into everything you notice. A vast universe of amazing complexity and fascinating detail lies in front of you, waiting to be unmasked.

6. Ask Yourself, “Who Is Having This Experience?” 

A version of the profound soul question, “Who am I?” this question shifts your attention away from the experience itself to who is having it. In the middle of any activity, put your attention on who it is that is experiencing the activity. In doing this you cultivate the witness—not just as a function of your consciousness, but as an actual presence, your soul. In this experience, known as Atma Darshan or “glimpsing the soul,” all your roles, titles, labels, positions, and possessions fall away and you know yourself simply as the ever-present witness to the awareness at the core of your being, all beings, and the entire universe.

7. Cultivate Metacognition 

Metacognition means thinking about thinking, knowing about knowing, or becoming aware of your awareness. It is essentially the act of putting your attention on your thinking process and understanding the manner in which your mind generates and perpetuates your moment-by-moment thought stream.

Ask yourself another question—how often do you watch or pay attention to the activity of your mind? Unless you’re trained in some form of contemplative practice, it is unlikely that you do this very often. Instead, you often are led around by your mind, the repetitive thoughts you have day to day, and the karmic programming that hums along in the background. When you put your attention on the content of your thoughts, however—where the thoughts came from, their associations, or how they make you feel when you think them, for example—you step out of the thought stream and are able to witness those thoughts without judgment. As the philosopher Krishnamurti once said, “Observation without judgment is the highest form of intelligence.” In mindfulness traditions, this state is also known as open monitoring. This practice can be performed during any activity and will bring a meditative quality to any experience.

Now that you have the tools to enliven awareness during activity, think of the following everyday activities as a playground for mindfulness. On the surface they may appear mundane, or even boring, but if you look closer you see that each contains a bounty of present-moment opportunities, just waiting to be embraced.

Doing the dishes. Unless you like dirty pots and pans piled high in your sink, washing dishes is a task that always needs to get done, but that you likely don’t enjoy. Yet when you infuse the doing the dishes with your full attention this activity filled with opportunities for presence. The sensations of hot water, soap, and rinsing—all anchored to the breath—are deeply mindful moments. In addition, this practice also provides the chance to experience gratitude for the meal or food that was prepared or served from those dishes.
Waiting in line. Society gives you ample chances to wait in line. At the grocery store, doctor’s office, or in traffic, these pauses in your activity are a perfect time to look deeper, feel your body, or tune into the witness within. You likely fight against the wait and often cause yourself to suffer with impatience. Instead, why not use waiting as a chance to connect more deeply with the present moment?
Taking a shower. A daily shower is often an activity you rush or plot through as you mindlessly follow a set routine for cleaning your body. But consider all the opportunities for tuning into your senses as you wash your hair and body—the possibilities for paying attention to the sounds, sights, and sensations of the water, or as the witness experiencing it all.
Driving to and from work. Your daily commute is often an autopilot experience with a regular route, radio station or music, or perhaps a meal or coffee along the way. Instead, why not use the daily drive as a chance to focus on the experience of driving? Consider consciously controlling a 2-ton vehicle with all its intricate parts, the physics behind the internal combustion engine, or marvel at how your mind is able to perform the complex act of driving in rush hour traffic with thousands of other motorists.
Eating a meal. Mindful eating is a practice unto itself. Suffice it to say that using the tools mentioned above to practice mindful eating opens entirely new dimensions in your relationship to food and how you nourish your body. In addition, it is an incredible opportunity to practice stillness and go within during an inherently social activity.
Walking a pet. Walking a dog or cat adds a new level of experience to the practice of mindful walking. It provides opportunities to enliven your senses, notice the details, and focus on your breathing, all while interacting with your pet and the environment. In addition, animals are much more deeply rooted in the present moment, providing yet another doorway into deepening the awareness that connects you.
Doing the laundry. While some consider doing the laundry and exercise in drudgery, infused with attention, this activity can also be a portal into higher awareness. Whether it’s the feel of the clothing, the smell of the clean (or dirty) garments, or contemplating the complex and far-reaching chain of events that led to you owning a particular item, you are free to experience any moment from a deeper perspective.

Although these are common examples of everyday mindfulness, these tools can be applied to any activity. When you make everyday experiences mindful, you take the ordinary ‟stuff” of your life and transform it into a pathway toward enlightenment.

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