If you let it, cooking can be a way to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as the state of being conscious or aware; focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.

I’d never given it much thought, but lately, that’s what cooking feels like to me- zen, slang for feeling peaceful and relaxed.  Most days, I carve out time in the late afternoon to begin preparing dinner for my family, and as much as I use my instant pressure cooker, I really pay attention to the cooking process. Granted, the days of cooking with little kids running in and out of the house are behind me. My last child is now a teenager who needs copious amounts of time in her room, so mostly I’m alone when I cook. But I enjoy the time to set everything else aside and bring ingredients together.

So what does mindful cooking look like? It’s watching as you slice the onions and chop the vegetables. It’s noticing the ingredients, tasting or smelling the spices being added, seeing the changes as they happen in the skillet. What it’s not is throwing food on the stove and running into another room to handle another task. More and more researchers are telling us that multi-tasking is not as effective as you might believe and that giving our full attention to the task at hand before moving on to the next is a better way to work. It is also less stressful, at least for me.

So, why not give it a try? Allow yourself the time to really focus on the process of cooking a meal- all parts of it- and see if you don’t enjoy it more.