Every morning my son loves to eat toasted waffles. It takes about 6 minutes for these frozen waffles to be ready for consumption. Some days I find myself standing there, gulping my coffee trying to wake up, zoning out or micro-managing everything. It dawned on me the other day that these 6 minutes are an untapped opportunity to practice mindful meditation!
So a couple of times this week, I stood next to the toaster oven with my eyes closed and my hands on my heart center (a tender touch can be so relaxing, especially when we feel frantic), and focused on my breath. Of course my mind wandered. I noticed I was planning what to do next or that my son was being real slow at getting dressed. Nonetheless, I was committed to using this waffle toasting time to practice mindfulness of the breath. Every time I noticed my mind begin to wander, I noted, “Planning, planning,” and then returned to my breath. I attempted to anchor my attention in the rise and fall of my chest as my hands remained on my heart center. I returned my attention to my breath over and over within those 6 minutes. The key was to remember and return with kindness, without judgment (I stink at meditating, my mind is crazy busy, or I am wasting precious time).
The results have been interesting. Not only do I move through my morning with less anxiety, my interactions with my children become easier. My expectations become less about what I want in order to lessen my anxiety, and more about supporting my children’s autonomy in caring for themselves and preparing for school. When I engage in my waffle meditation, my family’s morning becomes more pleasant. These 6 minutes have become a gift for myself and my family.
Meditation is challenging at times, especially when we first begin, because it goes against our habitual ways of relating to our feelings, thoughts and emotions. Our minds are busy. We have long to-do lists, demands of family and work, and information coming at us from our phones dinging non-stop and other devices reminding us there’s more to be done, more news to digest. Who has the time to pause and breathe, even for the duration of waffles toasting? You do! We do! And our well-being depends on it.
In meditation, the practice of calming, resting, and dwelling happily in the present moment can be difficult at first because our minds are always racing. The more you try to stop your racing mind, the more it resists. Mindfulness is not meant to suppress or get rid of the racing mind, but simply to recognize its presence.Thich Nhat Hahn
Why would anyone want to sit quietly and experience the pinball nature of the mind? When we pause, even for a minute, and notice with gentle curiosity where our attention is and the quality of that attention, we experience the present. The present is all that truly exists, yet most often we are attending to the past or projecting into the future. While reflection and goal setting is helpful and necessary at times, tending to the present is essential for the well-being of ourselves, our relationships, our families, the workplace and society. Being aware of what is happening in the present as it relates to our thoughts, emotions, physiology, etc., with a gentle curiosity opens up space for us to choose how we want to respond or relate to the experience. We break away from our habitual conditioned responses, which can often cause more pain and suffering. At the very least, it provides a brief reprieve from our frenetic lifestyles.
So, you know you have a busy mind. And, you have no idea when you could fit in meditation. Well, try a version of the toasting waffle meditation every day for a week. Choose an activity or two in which you engage daily like brewing coffee or tea, heating up your lunch, waiting for the water to heat up in the shower, etc., as a time to pause and meditate. This may only be for 2 minutes. That’s ok. Just do it EVERY DAY! Anchor your attention on the in-flow and out-flow of the breath or sensations in the body, such as the feeling of your feet on the ground. As you anchor your attention over and over again, just notice without expectations or evaluation where your attention is and how the body feels. The results are worth it!
Here are some tips to help anchor in your breath.