Mindfulness. It's a buzz word. Every spiritual center, house of worship or yoga studio you attend preaches mindfulness these days.
It's thrown around in pop culture, in New Age circles and in the office.
"I practice mindfulness." "I'm trying to be more mindful." "You should cultivate mindfulness."
But why is it en vogue and what does it mean?
One of the reasons it's so popular is because it transcends religion. You can be Christian and mindful, Jewish and mindful, even secular and mindful.
It isn't about God, per se. It doesn't have to encompass spirituality, necessarily.
It doesn't entail that we act nicer or better or more thoughtfully, though when you are more mindful you can't help but become more thoughtful.
It doesn't require gym memberships, church attendance or hot sweaty yoga, though those might be places we choose to mindfully engage.
Mindfulness is "simply" about paying attention to our life, our self and our actions, period. It's about coming off of auto-pilot and realizing what we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are doing it in the first place. So much of our life is formulaic: "lather, rinse, repeat," over and over and over, day after day after day.
And in a world of screens and beeping things and distraction and noise, we intuitively know we need to fight against becoming a mere extension of our phone. We secretly, or not so secretly, long for a sense of freedom, connection and consciousness like never before in the history of humanity.
Enter mindfulness. It's simple. It's easy. And it's free.
As a long time practitioner and teacher of mindfulness I believe that the best place to begin to cultivate a mindfulness practice is not in the obvious mindfulness stomping grounds such as churches, synagogues or Zen centers. And the best time to engage mindfulness isn't on a vacation, the ski slopes or first day of winter break.
Rather, mindfulness practice begins where we stand, in the midst of what we are doing, during our seemingly ordinary, humdrum daily routines. Right here. Right now.
As I have become more passionate about my work around water conservation, innovation and brining Israeli water solutions to global water problems, I've come to see the perfect marriage around water and mindfulness. For me, practicing water-mindfulness has changed my life and what I mindfully and would like to share with you too. Why? Because water-mindfulness as a pathway to environment sustainability, inner peace and maybe world peace.
Water mindfulness is simply about paying attention to our life, our actions and our global impact each and every time water presents itself. And there are no shortage of opportunities, all day long. From taking a shower to using the toilet, from doing the laundry to washing dishes in the sink, we each have about 100 gallons worth of water mindfulness opportunities - the amount of water the average American uses every single day.
showering - using 17.2 gallons at an average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute
flushing toilets - 5 times per day, with an average of around 4 gallons per flush, using approximately 20 gallons of water
washing clothes - using about 40 gallons of water
using the dishwasher, and watering the lawn, washing the car another 20 plus gallons, give or take
Imagine every time we washed the dishes, instead of doing so mindlessly we paid attention.
Think about the possibilities of being mindful during our shower, while running the washing machine, while brushing our teeth.
And though it may not strike you as a place to pay attention, show appreciation or cultivate mindfulness - there is no better time to do so than while doing our business in the bathroom. (All it takes is a day or two of constipation to get us to cultivate total mindfulness).
While we are engaged in bathroom mindfulness let's think about the fact that we are flushing four gallons of drinking water down the toilet (for every few ounces of a little poopie and pee-pee!). When we flush let's mindfully consider the implications.
Consider the possibilities if 350 million of us (here in the U.S. alone) were more mindful of the water we used, bringing that 100 gallons a day down by just a few gallons? Were talking billions of gallons in savings a day. Just as important, it's not simply about water conservation, though that is critical. It's about cultivating a more thoughtful, appreciative and conscious way of being in this world.
Who wants to live on autopilot? Who wants to be an ant marching through our life? Who wants to live mindlessly? And who wants to look at our grandchildren, someday at the end of our life, and explain to them, that we just didn't know any better, we simply weren't aware, we really didn't know to pay attention - to our water, our environment or our life?
Mindfulness is not a religion. Mindfulness is not a belief or doctrine or dogma. Mindfulness is simply a commitment to personal responsibility, personal growth and personally making a difference in the world through paying attention to our thoughts, our choices and our actions - one flush at a time.
Eat and be mindful.
Pray and be mindful.
Flush and be mindful.
You have gallons of opportunities to do so each and every day.
The Aqua Rabbi