Everyday Mindfulness: Cooking!

So, many of my friends find peeling, cutting and chopping vegetables an everyday hassle. Do you think cooking, chopping and washing could be very therapeutic? Try peeling, chopping or cutting vegetables, in the same speed, but with more attention to the way you peel, chop or cut it? Lets go into some details…

  1. Selective attention: Paying attention to your selective stimuli but ignoring the rest is the most simple definition of selective attention. So you do know you have thoughts around ‘how boring house work is!’, or ‘why isn’t your husband helping you chop vegetables’ or even ‘why do I have to chop vegetables?’but choosing to ignore it to do a daily chore like chopping vegetables isn’t very tempting. But it should be definitely given preference as thinking about all those things is not going to give you a better state of mind is it?
  2. Enjoying the process: So what if it is a daily chore, it is helping feed your family. The process of cooking is an enjoyable one only when it is seen as one. When it is seen as a daily source of stress, then it is a daily source of stress. Do you remember times when you have tried a new dish, with complete attention to the recipe, the smells and even the quantity- did it make a difference in the way you saw the end result? Or it felt the same when you make your daily count of rotis and pulses? What is the difference then- its more about paying mindful attention to the process of cooking. Cleaning, cutting, peeling and chopping mindfully is a way of telling your mind and body what you are doing in the moment is good and it is helping your mind pay attention to details, helping you develop your concentration.
  3. Immerse yourself: Enjoy the colours, the fragrances and even the flavours. Try to identify the spices and the flavours as you cook. When your mind drifts to something unpleasant or some irrelevant thought, let the delicious fragrance bring you back to your mindful cooking.

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When I was peeling garlic last night, I noticed I was so into it that I actually did not find the process of peeling tiny garlic pieces and chopping a tedious one! That did give me an idea of sharing some information of mindfulness practice in daily life, especially while cooking. Ive always seen a portrayal of a hassled housewife in regular hindi soaps, which gives an impression that being a housewife or cooking after returning from work is a very painful thing to do. But, a five minute breather (rather mindful meditation exercise) just before cooking will do no harm, in fact it will help get down the stress levels for a working woman or even for a housewife. It will also make sure you don’t cut your fingers.

Our mind is full of thoughts- positive and negative. These thoughts need acknowledgment and action, but at the right time. So just pay attention to this very restless mind of ours, and after many days of your tryst with mindful cooking, I’m sure you will be able to get it a bit quiet and settled, even if you are back from a stressful job to cook for your family.

I was reading a beautiful article by this website called Headspace and it asked us to follow 5 things while cooking. So here is a short summary:

  1. Recognise colours, flavours and smells what you are cooking
  2. Notice where your mind wants to travel while you are chopping/ washing vegetables, just to be aware of your mind
  3. Listen to the sound of the cumin seeds splutter while tempering your dal.
  4. Allow your mind and body to be present the moment when two flavours mix
  5. Observe your mind and let the senses help you get back to your cooking.

So, the next time you think about all the Why your spouse does not help you out in the kitchen, think about the privilege you have to relax your mind while cooking.

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NEVER EVER DO THIS! Even though she looks happy, she isnt cooking mindfully 😀 
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