Before she had children, Lucy used to start the day with a half-hour of yoga and meditation. For years, it felt like her centering point, she felt more able to be calm and present in her work. Then came Katie, who is up with the birds—doing her own chirping before Lucy can even crack an eyelid.
Lucy’s old meditation routine, in fact all of her old routines, vanished in a single day. At first it was fine—Lucy was so in love with Katie that she didn’t mind. Her husband John seemed unruffleable, and three months of maternity leave let Lucy nap when Katie did. But now she’s juggling work and parenting—and feeling overwhelmingly scattered. At work half of her mind is on Katie; at home, unfinished work nags at her when she just wants to nurse her sweet girl or go to sleep.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is focused awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness lets us be fully conscious of a simple sensation like the warmth of sunlight or of the complex interplay between our thoughts and feelings.
By tuning in to mental processes, we are able to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts; they don’t necessarily represent reality. We can observe them rather than being subject to them.
Mindfulness lets us absorb the richness of the moment instead of going through life with half of our attention on the past or future or our own mental chatter. The self-knowledge that comes from mindfulness lets us be more intentional in choosing priorities and actions that fit our life mission.
Five Quotes to contemplate, discuss and share.
We should notice that we are already supported at every moment. There is the earth below our feet and there is the air, filling our lungs and emptying them. We should begin from this when we need support.
All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.
Bringing it home to your kids
1. Take time to breathe. Literally. Focused breathing is one way to pull yourself into the present no matter what you are doing.
2. Walk–with or without children, with or without a destination. For all or part of the walk focus on the movement of your legs, the plants around you, the cool or warm touch air. Give yourself permission to simply be in your body.
3. Scale down expectations. You can’t be present if you’re always thinking about what you haven’t done or what you should have done.
4. Avoid “hurried child syndrome.” A hurried child is a harried child. Make time for your child to get lost in the moment.
5. Sample simple pleasures together. Take the time to open a seed pod with your child, or to sit in the bath, or to share an ice cream.
Photo by Rik_C