This morning I woke up uninspired.
I’ve been struggling with a health condition that zaps me of energy, frequently resulting in a general case of the blahs. I become bored, unimaginative, dull.
Over the past few days, my boredom has influenced the simple act of deciding what to eat and drink.
“I’m so sick of lemon water—who cares if it’s healthy, just feed me!” my mind barks.
So, it came as no surprise that I lacked any motivation to prepare breakfast this morning.
I begrudgingly made myself a bowl of cereal—some type of flakes with clusters or “whatever.” I added banana, raspberries, a handful of walnuts and almond milk.
This was about the most effort I could muster, aside from shoving a stale croissant in my mouth.
As I began to eat (cognizant of my malaise) I reminded myself that the least I could do given my sour mood was attempt to be mindful.
I decided I would be mindful in this moment of eating—so I closed my eyes and paid attention.
In that moment of awareness, my mood went from cynical and bored, to thinking I had reinvented the wheel.
I invite you to experience with me the wonders of mindfulness.
I noticed in the first few seconds how the mouth begins to process the spoonful of cereal by extracting the liquid and sending it down the throat.
Then, the tongue assumes the role of foreman, pushing the food toward the storage area of both cheeks to allow for efficient processing through the grinding of the teeth.
I never realized how active the tongue is when eating. It’s a little production factory right there in our mouths!
As the food passed over my tongue, the variety of flavors were isolated and noted—the sweet, smooth texture of the banana, the tart, bright notes of the raspberry, the nutty, dry taste of the walnuts and the texture of the clusters and the flakes softening.
Once the food was sufficiently masticated, the tongue pushed it to the back of the throat and down the hatch for the stomach to continue its work of digestion.
If we give it a moment (rather than immediately shoveling in the next mouthful), our mouth resets and readies itself for the next payload, where the process repeats again until we are satiated.
In these 15 minutes, I fully experienced eating cereal for what may have been the first time.
Sure, I have savored food before—closing my eyes to savor the flavor—but this was different.
This was an awareness of not only the food, but of the process—the amazing, complicated, perfectly synced process of digestion, which as I had always heard, truly does begin in the mouth.
It was anything but boring—it was exciting and invigorating.
I thought to myself:
“Wow, imagine if I approached everything with this mindfulness, how much richer my life would be.”
At lunchtime, I thought to try it again—but alas, my monkey mind wouldn’t have it. The novelty had already worn off after one experience.
My salad was full of interesting items, but as I sat trying to be mindful of the process, my mind was a jittery mess—wanting to grasp at something, anything, to distract it. There was an impulse to reach for the iPad, scroll through Instagram or Facebook.
“Hell, I’ll even read a real book,” my mind pleaded, “Just give me something else to chew on!”
At this point, my only practice was to sit and watch my mind squirm and fidget. It had no interest in being present to the process of eating again.
Been there, done that.
It didn’t matter that it was a completely different meal. For my mind, it was torturous to have to sit still and pay attention while eating a salad.
And such is the struggle in my practice of being mindful.
There are many moments when I am a complete zombie—going from point A to point B—with brief moments of mindfulness, which are often simply admonitions to be mindful and only last about 15 seconds.
And then there are moments such as these—when I catch myself. Ordinary moments become rich experiences.
I was able to observe how undisciplined my mind is—how easily bored and needing of stimulation. As I observed this, I felt hints of judgment, which I stayed present to. I took the opportunity to practice Maitri—loving kindness to myself, and I accepted “what is.”
So my friends, I offer you this antidote to boredom and restlessness.
In those moments, try to stop and be present to what is happening.
Pay close attention to what you’re doing.
The simplest of things can become a fascinating treasure trove of the magnificence of life and an opportunity to grow in self-awareness.
Now, what’s for dinner?
Author: Roseann Pascale
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Yoli Ramazzina