Think you can’t practice mindfulness and yoga everywhere? This week, I tried it in a strawberry patch WITH KIDS. Regardless of their age, anything with kids ups the challenge. The trick to any distraction is NOTICING you NOTICE it, and not reacting to it.
Driving: Ease into your surroundings.
Shut off the car radio, open your windows, and notice the smells, temperature of the air, and the sounds of the farm. Enter the farm driveway slowly. Greet the worker with a heartfelt smile. What does it feel like when you smile?
Scan the farm to find the animals.
Drive slowly. Notice how the feeling of the car riding on the earth differs from the pavement of the road.
Leave your phone in the car, but don’t forget your keys and a water bottle.
Allow yourself to settle into a world without electronic distraction. The mind may think, “I can’t do this without music or NPR.” Notice the inner resistance, breathe, and get your fruit basket.
Randomly take sips of water to stay hydrated. As for the keys, they’ll come in handy when you need to leave.
Move and breathe mindfully.
Notice the softness or hardness of the earth. Is the ground bumpy or flat? Do you see dew hanging from the plant leaves or the various colors of each strawberry as they ripen? Focusing on the details of foraging will give us the opportunity to see the details we ordinarily miss.
The day is cool, the sky is blue, and clouds slowly float past above. I would have missed the deer tracks nestled in the hay between the plants had I not paid attention!
Notice how distractions may grab your attention.
Is the “to-do” list creeping into your mind? Is your tummy grumbling? Are you impatient with the slow or chatty picker nearby? Is Grandpa picking strawberries from “your” aisle? Notice those thoughts and put them aside. Breathe and refocus on your foraging.
Relish positive wandering thoughts. Nearby, a toddler squeaked “Mommy, I have TWELVE!” while a preschooler shouted to her grandfather, “Grandpa, I have the HUGEST one!” Moments of quiet are interspersed with sounds of nature, glee and discovery.
Honor your body
Mind what hurts and helps your body function. Honor your spine: Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Recruit a “picking neighbor” to help. At the least, you’re creating community. Perhaps you’re creating the start of a lifelong friendship.
Take small breaks to breathe mindfully and deeply. Notice if you are clenching your shoulders, neck or back. Inhale, sigh and release the tension in your body. Sip more water. Are you feeling hot? Use some of that water to splash your face.
Use some simple yoga movements to loosen cramped muscles. Picking strawberries isn’t a race – it gives you an opportunity to slow down and notice everything going on in and around you.
You know you want to, so grab a strawberry. Closely analyze its redness, size and texture. What is the texture like? How does it smell? When you take a bite, notice the juicy sweetness, warmth, and softness that only comes from a freshly-picked berry.
Do you smell the tanginess of berries, the dampness from an early morning rain, or the wafts of wildflowers and freshly mown grass? Allow your mind to bathe in your senses.
Add some gratitude
As you pick and when you finish, appreciate your bounty and the opportunity to reconnect with nature slowly and meditatively. Now you can plan for that strawberry shortcake you’re craving.
Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines. 26 February 2018. NPR