Making Time

by Diana Rosinus

Why do we resist mindfulness?  Why do we choose to deny acting in ways we know to be healthy?  Our resistance seems to stem from our perceived limitations (those oh-so-familiar excuses!), but in the moments when we are able to be centered and mindful, these limitations begin to crumble before us like dried up castles of sand.

I find that the issue of time is my number one imagined limitation (i.e. excuse!).  All too often time feels like a cage rather than a gift.  While time is certainly a very real challenge in everyday life, it is not a reason to make poor choices.  Unlike the very real and concrete limitations posed to me by my body’s intolerance to gluten, for example, the perceived constraints relating to time are more fluid and malleable.  We can begin to recognize the various textures of our limitations, to feel which ones are solid, and which ones are those fuzzy ones we have built up beyond their actual size in order to hold mindfulness at arm’s length.  These fuzzy barriers invite us to reshape them.

Although our conception of time is rigid and fixed, our actual experience and perception of time is not fixed and, in this way, time breathes, it engages us in a dance.   I think it is our view of time as a scarce resource that causes us to hoard it, and in doing so we stifle its very breath.  Our experiences of time can be less like sparse change clinking in our pockets and much more like our experiences of love: The more attention we place on time, the more it expands and feeds us.

I believe our mental construction of time as a limited resource has trained us to rush though pretty much everything, and in doing so, we have lost touch with our bodies and the sanctity tucked inside of our routines.  I know there are some real-life, unavoidable, hard-as-rock time constraints in life, but often they get mixed up in our minds with our imagined constraints.

In my experience, cooking is one of the first things to go when the time-constraint scissors come snipping away at my day.  In the place of cooking, people often go out to eat or eat more processed foods.  Those of us without the funds to eat out a lot and without the desire to eat pre-prepared meals still find ways to avoid cooking by grabbing individual ingredients to munch on – a tomato here, some beans there, a warm corn tortilla, a handful of grapes.  These are all perfectly wholesome and yummy food choices, but wouldn’t a lovingly prepared veggie taco and a fruit salad be much more satisfying?   

The next time you are tempted to rush through your meal preparation, try an experiment: turn your dial to slow-motion.  Just for one meal, see how it feels to resist that ingrained impulse to rush rush rush.  How is this done?  Everyone has different ways that work best; you can discover yours simply by trying things and seeing what works.

Just as you may be working on slowing down your experience of eating your food, slowing down the process of preparing it can further your enjoyment of food and augment the mindfulness with which you choose what to eat.  I only know this because I am right in the middle of the process of learning this myself!  Although life is hectic, taking part in the Savor & Share recipe competition has demanded my food-focus to shift once more, and I am realizing that sometimes putting a little extra energy into shifting something in your life can provide you with exactly what you need.  In this case, my shifting focus yielded just the serenity I was lacking in this busy life.

When I entered into a mindful place in preparing my food, I found that being present while I ate was a natural extension. It is certainly possible to savor what you eat without savoring the cooking process, but it is, thankfully, nearly impossible to savor the cooking process without savoring the meal that results from your slow, careful labor of love.