Publix, Whole Foods, Aldi's, Piggly Wiggly. Any chain, any name... the grocery store is one of the most outstanding places to train your mindfulness brain. And, if you're like me, shopping for hummus, string cheese and toilet paper is unquestionably not on my bucket list. So, this perpetual, weekly event also gives me fabu moments to work on the patience and gratitude aspect of my own practice.
Any of these thrilling scenarios sound familiar? A man planted slap dab in the middle of an aisle, chatting it up on his phone while mountains of people pile behind him -- complete with angry babies -- just trying to eyeball peanut butter brands. Or a hurried woman so driven by her search for the BOGO ice cream that she blindly races in front of another customer gently headed for the same mint chocolate chip. Or the zombie-like checkout line where many worn souls are mentally checked out.
What if we could enhance this experience for ourselves as well as those around us? Let's do this thing.
1. Prevent mobile blindness.
Ohhhh, the beautiful buzz or ting-a-ling of our phones. It draws our attention and affection. Yet, it also draws us away from the world and literally makes us less efficient.
My first recommendation would be to keep your beloved in your bag or pocket and resist temptation.
But, if there is a call or text that you must make or respond to, be thoughtful. Pull your cart, kids, self... out of the way. I try to move over as far as I can or shimmy to an area with low traffic. That way, I can also be engaged with the person I am communicating with and focus on keeping my dialogue short and sweet.
2. Keep an eye on the bigger picture.
It is very easy to become honed in on your grocery store goals. However, you are not alone in this grand adventure.
Take the time to continually notice those around you. Before you go down an aisle, see who shares the space before you dive in. Being aware of others enhances the grocery cart dance. It allows you to see quickly who might be having a crappy day, who is in a mad dash, who is enjoying the variety of olive oils and you can then flow mo' betta with the physical and emotional energies.
3. Practice kindness and courtesy.
For me, this starts before I even get out of my car. Ideally, I take a moment, inhale/exhale and set my intention to be calm and to attempt to take my time even if I'm on a schedule or have my kids in tow who, by the way, enter the store like two, beefed-up prize fighters excited to see who will thwart the other and win the belt.
This allows me to be more mindful of the space I inhabit, to see who might need help grabbing an item from a top shelf, to notice who is in a wheel chair and requires some extra room or to be aware of who is having a tough day and maybe give them a soft smile. Or, it may even help me notice a pleasant giggle delivered my way by a stranger acknowledging my silly kids.
4. Look at the bounty around you and deliciously drink it in.
I talked earlier about the grind of going every week to the grocery store. Especially as an American, this challenges me to take the time to look around and see how much glorious food and products are literally at my finger tips. To appreciate that I can simply drive five miles, walk into a store and within an hour gather enough food to feed my whole family without even tilling any soil. To give thanks to all the people and hard work that it takes to fill this place and run it. And, to get specific... to give kudos to all the people who go the extra mile to produce organic, fresh, local and earth friendly products.
There you have it. Just a couple of ideas in the midst of potentially thousands. And, as I write, I realize I still have a way to go. Maybe I'll see you at the store, we can wink at each other and you can see that I am on this mindfulness journey, too. To be a better person, to help create a better world and to squeeze the Charmin all at the same time.
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