On a busy Friday at The Hub (5151 N. Ravenswood), I decided to help out with gleaning: sorting through rescued food to check dates and freshness. The bustle of everyone around me, gleaning as well, running like a fine-tuned machine all while music played through the speakers surrounded by colorful produce. Before I knew it, the 30 minutes I meant to spend, quickly turned into an hour and I had to pull myself away to return to emails and meetings.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve gleaned and I was quickly reminded how much I enjoyed it. The singular focus, the organization, the sense of accomplishment; it felt GREAT! I noticed I felt refreshed and relaxed. As a therapist and leader, I am always working with people. Losing myself in gleaning was just what I needed that day to hit “refresh” for my brain.
“Mindfulness, not matter how you practice it, is a way to cope with the uncertainty, to connect to your body, and generally relieve stress.”
Mindfulness is a buzzword these days, but is generally defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”. Gleaning—focusing on a low stress, repetitive task at hand—was a way for me to practice mindfulness. I now try to spend at least an hour each week by joining the Hub volunteers and staff in their mission to prepare our food donations for our clients. Not only is this an important part of the Pantry’s work, but it also very personally benefits me by having a positive impact on my mood and stress level.
The last 18 months have been extremely difficult for most of us and the future remains uncertain. Mindfulness, not matter how you practice it, is a way to cope with the uncertainty, to connect to your body, and generally relieve stress.
If you are interested in trying gleaning as mindfulness, sign up for shifts at the Hub and our Avondale location!