A Focused Attention Activity
“The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.”
Erma Bombeck may have written the above in jest, but I think she really nailed it! How many of us have gone into the store for just a few items or even for our week’s groceries only to come out with much more than we had planned for? And how about those impulse buys in the snack aisle or at the cash register? Do we really feel like the boss of our own lives when we do this? What happens to our control?
Do you want to have more energy and feel more powerful? If so, the next time you go shopping, consider practicing focused attention at the store, really being in the moment and buying only the items on your list. This is incredibly difficult, but it is also incredibly empowering! Here’s how:
- Look in your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets, paying close attention to what is already there. Think about what purpose those foods will serve in your meal plans in the next week or month. Spend a few moments being mindful of what you already have.
- Next, think about what you would like to eat or serve to your family in the upcoming days and week. Consider questions like, Are these foods healthy? Are they sustainable? Where do they come from? Try to be aware of the origin of the food you intend to purchase. Simply be thoughtful about it. This is not about judging yourself; it is about becoming aware.
- Get out a piece of paper and a pen, and begin to make your list. Keeping in mind what you already have, carefully jot down each item you need for the day, week, or two ahead. (It is helpful to group your items into categories.) Make a mental note of which day you will serve a particular food and which meal it is for. You don’t have to create elaborate menus; some thoughtful attention is all that’s needed.
- When you arrive at the grocery store, take out your list. Look it over carefully once again. Have a pen handy so you can cross items off your list one by one. Ground yourself in the present moment by taking a few breaths and placing your attention entirely on being in the grocery store.
- Turn to your Sacred Mantra whenever you feel your mind wandering and look at the next item on your list and head toward that section of the store. Really try to stick to just what is on your list. As you put each item in your cart, allow the feeling of gratitude to wash over you. We are fortunate to be able to shop in a grocery store with so many choices at hand!
- Remain open and receptive to your fellow shoppers, offering a smile as you gather your groceries. They are part of your shopping experience just as much as the food on the shelves and in your cart. When you have marked everything off your list, check out but stay checked-in with yourself!
So often we look at grocery shopping as a chore, but when we do this “chore” with all of our attention in the present moment, we may have some insightful and meaningful experiences, and actually feel energized. I would love to hear your thoughts following this Focused Attention activity.