The quickest way to become present in your moment is to tune in to your senses.
What am I smelling right now?
What am I tasting right now?
What am I hearing right now?
What am I feeling right now?
What am I seeing right now?
These are simple questions, but there are so many things vying for our attention in any moment. This is mindfulness. It’s not as intimidating as it seems. Asking your children these same questions some time during the day, can help teach them what it means to tune into themselves.
One of the the most important things…
..that we teach our children is how to listen to themselves. Being able to listen to their own internal guiding voice will help them to follow their dreams, to make authentic friendships and relationships, to walk away from people who are hurtful and to treat themselves with compassion when they don’t meet their goals or meet with disappointment.
The two ways we do this by modeling it and by guiding them to themselves. We are constantly ‘losing our senses’ when we go about our day, from daydreaming to watching something, to the multitasking that is an essential part of parenting. We are always thinking about what needs to happen next, even several steps beyond that; constantly juggling our responsibilities and desires. When we choose to focus on what we are doing, time seems to blossom around us. It’s really true! When you become immersed in whatever you are doing time stretches out, filled out with all the new information you are allowing in: the smell of the dish soap wafting up to your nose, the sound of the page turning as you read a picture book to your children, the taste of the fresh mandarin orange you are peeling for your toddler. These are the little pieces that when put together help us to come into ourselves, and into our moments.
When walking, walk. When eating, eat.
There is a Zen proverb that says ‘When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” And this is perhaps the best nutshell explanation of what it means to be mindful, or meditative. Of course, as a parent, this is especially challenging. There is always a lot to accomplish in a day. But it is also possible. And at its best, taps you into a sense of more time, and certainly more patience, like a deep well. The days when I am calm and mindful I get WAY more ‘accomplished’ in addition to caring for three children, and homeschooling one. I look back over the day and I wonder how I found the time! I found it by tapping into it. And you can, too.
Letting it go is essential.
One key to this sense of timelessness, besides tuning into your senses, is letting go of some stuff. You can’t do ALL the things you need to, but you can always be working on it. You can’t finish every piece of laundry every day, but you can always try to have a load going. You can’t always make the perfect meal, but you can try to generally feed your children and your self healthfully. You can’t always be mindful and calm, but you can apologize when you lose your temper and try again. You can’t expect yourself to get it all done, but you can support yourself by always aiming for a clean home, healthy food and loving communication.
Letting go of the extra thoughts and stresses also help to make room for what is right in front of you. It opens up your mind to your sensations. It gives you a better view of your children, who you are sensing fully, instead of intermittently. Making a list of tasks can help this. Or set a timer while doing a certain task.
So try it. Try it for a day, or for a week. Once a day ask your self and your kids what you are seeing, smelling, feeling, hearing and tasting. My kids love it. It’s almost like a treasure hunt. They suddenly start looking around themselves. They’ve just realized they are in the middle of a land of wonder, rife with beautiful things to discover.
And so are you.