Mindfulness in every day parenting

When you are a parent, paying attention to your child’s’ every word can be difficult. It doesn’t matter if you are employed full time or a full time stay at home parent, as adults we have our own world of living that keeps us engrossed and in a “story” of perception and ideas that very often removes us from the moment at hand.

Children don’t live in the story, they live in the now. They love to make up stories, but unlike the adult, they know they are NOT the story of their job, their relationship or lack of one, nor the health of their body.

Mindfulness practice teaches us to remember to disengage from that story of our brain, the one that keeps us ruminating about what you should have said and done, and brings you back to chopping the vegetables, driving the car and listening.

But to get to mindfulness we must also be aware we are in the story. And to practice mindfulness, the story very often is very difficult to disengage from and to sustain.

Watching children play has certainly taught me a lot about how to disengage and engage with the story. Especially younger pre kindergarten kids. They pay attention to what is in front of them. Then move on to the next thing. Yet they always have a central focus on moving easily, practicing that movement until the movement has served it purpose. Picking up a toy, feeling it, touching, even tasting it, and then dropping that and going on. They don’t tell themselves a story when the toy falls on their toe and it hurts. They just cry. They want to be held. And then they laugh at the way the sun hits the toy that was once on the ground that has just 2 seconds before traumatized them.

Quite honestly, we can’t expect to be mindful all the time. Instead, we have to remember that mindfulness is about brief moments of time, repeated many times over and over. The times will get longer and longer. Like a subtle wave of the ocean, the winds of life will pick up, but the waves come and they will go, gradually our feet on the sand will get firmer and firmer.

There will be times in life where you are adrift and just don’t know what is happening, but mindfulness can serve as an anchor to bring you back. The process of life and awakening to the heart opening to its fullest will most likely leave you flayed open at times, just one of the many things that life is about. But when learning to be mindful, we can be like the child. Hurt my toe, cry. Sun on the toy. Laugh.

In your day, may you remember to have your moments of mindful awareness, may you be at ease and be in kindness toward yourself.