I have been talking to a lot of people recently who find cooking to be a chore, a bore, a burden. People feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to make dinner. I get it, I really do!
But recently I suddenly had this epiphany about cooking that has really changed the way I look at my time in the kitchen. Now I will acknowledge that I really enjoy cooking. I like the creative outlet it provides. I like the ritual. But recently, I also realized that one of the things that calls me back to the kitchen over and over again is the mindfulness of cooking. And this is something that I think can be true for people who like to cook and also those who struggle with it.
Cooking requires mindful attention. If you let your mind wander to your to do list, your worries, your fears, your anxieties, you are much more likely to hurt yourself (as I did the other day when I was rushing through my to do list in my head and cut myself). Cooking requires you to focus in on what you are doing. It asks that you put other things aside. It compels you to be present in that moment. For someone like me who struggles a lot with meditation and getting my mind to slow down, I have come to look upon my time in the kitchen as a respite.
We live in a society in which most of us are constantly rushing, multitasking, and cramming too much in. There are few spaces these days where we can shift our focus to just one thing. But one of those spaces is the kitchen. So next time you are cooking, even if it is just making a salad or cooking a box of pasta and some jarred sauce, try to take a moment to notice that focus that is required, that mindfulness. Maybe, just maybe, you can breathe and enjoy the moment for what it is. Perhaps that shift will allow you to enjoy cooking just a little bit more, or maybe it won’t, but at least for that instant you will be completely present in the moment at hand. And just that is a gift.
Do you use cooking as a mindfulness practice or do you have a mindfulness practice that works for you? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions in the comments!