Engaged With The Present Moment; How Baking Brought Me Back to Mindfulness
If you are anything like me, your mind tends to wander in many different directions. Always. It’s like I have so many brilliant ideas, or I try to figure everything out at the same time. I never really feel accomplished. I don’t usually take the time to jot my ideas down and so the thoughts stay stored in my mind.
It actually makes me feel a little anxious, because then my thoughts are “will I remember to do that later? I really wanna do that.” My mind can feel so cluttered at times. I don’t know where this trait came from, but not too long ago I realized it was a problem. My husband would joke with me about how I was always every where (with my mind.) Even though it was kind of funny, I didn’t like the feeling of a cluttered mind and decided it was time to do something about it.
After some deep thought, I realized part of the problem came from my addiction to social media. I also read about it in Dr. Caroline Leaf’s Switch On Your Brain. She said something along the lines of when our brain quickly switches from one focus to another it wires our brain in a different way. I can see the evidence in my life; In the way I process things. My focus is lost after a short period of time. It’s like I go from Task #1 Point A to C by starting at A, going to B, pausing, going to Task #2 Point A, then going back to Task #1 to finish at Point C. And that may work for you, but even though I do this, it drives me crazy! It drives me crazy because all of my energy is not put into the first task and my mentality goes more towards just getting it done, rather than giving it my best effort. Even now, I started the tab to open this page, then I had it on my mind to message a client back. I opened another tab up to message her back before starting the blog. This way of processing may work for some, but like I said, I just don’t like the anxiety it gives me.
It’s a process. I feel like acknowledgement is key. I know that it’s a problem. It’s identified. Now, the fun part; doing something about it. The ironic thing about all of this is that I found a therapeutic technique without trying to think about what exactly I could do to train my mind to be focused. It just happened.
It started with my attempt at baking chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I have always believed that I could not, for the life of me, bake. I didn’t watch anyone bake much of anything, so I never really learned. I was going on a trip with my husband to watch Keith Sweat in concert and wanted to bring something sweet with us. I tried the recipe, and even added my own twist by adding cream cheese to the center of some and amazingly, they came out! They were actually good, too! I could not believe it. My confidence was uplifted and I finally believed I had a chance at baking and actually making something edible. I don’t know why I had the desire to bake, but I have a servant’s heart when it comes to food (except for when I cook for my husband- not nice I know- but I’m working on that.) I envision myself as a sweet little grandma, with fresh baked goods for my grand babies. So, maybe that’s where part of the desire came from. So, since I gained confidence I decided I would try another recipe. I really wanted to make banana nut bread.
Something amazing happened this time. I got lost in the process. When I say that, I mean I was completely focused and zoned in to what I was doing. I enjoyed every thing about how I felt during this baking experience. It was the most tranquil experience I had in quite a while. My breathing was calm and even as I was working on making this banana nut bread. I even took a couple of deep breaths throughout the process as if I was in a state of meditation. My thoughts were shut off. I literally just watched every little thing I was doing. I was paying very close attention to every detail; the measurements and making sure I was doing everything in the right order. I remember my favorite part was watching the butter and sugar as they were being mixed together. I took my time. I wasn’t in any rush. It was amazing. Now, this probably sounds really crazy to some of you reading this, but when your mind has a hard time focusing on any one thing and you finally learn or re-learn to get focused again, it’s pretty euphoric.
The process of baking banana nut bread reminded me of what exactly it means to be mindful. To be fully present in the moment without any distractions; without feeling anxious. To understand that it was a process and that I would need to take my time to get it done and have a great (tasting) outcome. That there is beauty in being in the present moment. That I feel healthy when I am fully engaged with the present moment. That it brings me so much joy to be in the present moment.