ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS YOU CAN LEARN FROM YOUR KINDERGARTENER!
Layla is one of the best mindfulness practitioners I know. And she’s only in kindergarten!
My beautiful, dedicated best friend takes her mother job very serious. (She’s serious to begin with. We are working on being more silly…which luckily for her, is my strong point)! The other day we were talking and she says something along the lines of, “I’m rushing,
as always, and Layla [her daughter] wants to go to the grass and pick some flowers. She always wants to do this!” As my friend goes on and on sharing with me her internal struggle of “We have things to do” and “She’s so cute picking flowers,” etc., that cliche pops into my head. You know which one. Stop and smell the roses. As I laughed with my friend, who always has something she needs to be doing, I responded, by highlighting how her daughter embodies mindfulness with such an acceptance and brightness. Children are mindfulness gurus, so let’s embrace that and learn from them!
As I mentioned earlier on my website, mindfulness is not about change. Well, at least not about instant change. Yet, the more you practice this way of being, the more profound the long term benefits are on our mind and body.
If you aren’t sold on the idea of shifting your state of being, at times, from active participant to aware observer…maybe you are you interested in:
More peaceful moments
Increased emotional regulation
Lowered blood pressure
Mindfulness can help you achieve all that as well!
Think of mindfulness as a simple equation:
Attention + Intention + Attitude = Mindfulness.
Okay, so what exactly does that mean? Let’s dissect this.
Have you ever been driving and missed your exit? Or packed all of your stuff into your purse and managed to get the diaper bag and baby into the car and as you sit down in the driver’s seat fumbling through everything you realize you left the keys inside the house door (mid-lock)! Self-reflection: How much of your attention was given in those moments?
(You’re probably thinking, “How can I give all my attention to each task when I have 10 that demand my attention!?”) It’s hard. I hear ya.’ Stay with me though…because I can guarantee you have been mindful more times than you realize.
Our intentions create our reality. So remember when I mentioned on my earlier, that one of the benefits of mindfulness is a greater sense of control. Setting our intention to be in the present moment, fully engaged in whatever it is and wherever we are, is what helps to gain that control. (Not the control that comes from changing anything but a more powerful sense of control that comes from making the choice to accept and experience things just as they are)! Start to ‘be’ on purpose. Notice on purpose. And step out of the auto-pilot, scary Stepford Wives mode. Self-reflection: How long does it usually take you to realize you’ve been on autopilot? (Perhaps you can’t remember the last 2 or 3 things you just did)!
Now, mind shift time: realize you can change your attitude to one that serves you better. How powerful is that? How many times have you said to your kids, or heard people say it to theirs, “Don’t give me that attitude.” Self-reflection: What attitude towards life do you hold now? Mindfulness is about holding an attitude of childlike curiosity, without judgments. Curious like a visitor in a new land and accepting (non-judgmental) of what is, just as it is. You’re not practicing getting caught up and swept away in the “should,” “need,” “have to be” thinking. It’s about experiencing life just as it is in this moment.
So how does one actually ‘be’ like this? Check out my article, if you haven’t already. This will guide you through a quick mindfulness practice and talk a little more about how to cultivate this on a daily basis. I also encourage you to check out what Melissa O’Brian says about how you most definitely have been mindful before.
Although there are many activities to help guide you in practicing being mindful, it is not considered any one technique or a group of skills. It is viewed as a state of being. Basically, rather than do mindful, you be mindful. Your intention becomes to choose (on purpose) to be (give attention) in the present moment, with open curiosity for whatever is. After all, the past is gone and the future has yet to arrive.
You can always create a formal time (which I strongly encourage) to practice an activity that will help guide you to being more mindful, or you can (and I totally encourage this as well) find moments in your everyday life to be mindful. These are fun and plentiful! Regardless of how often you are in this state of being, be kind and patient with yourself. There is no “right” or “perfect” way to do this and unless you are a Tibetan monk (who has practiced thousands of hours of meditation and doesn’t need to think much about returning emails, driving to soccer practice, making dinner, or trying to get to that yoga class), please don’t expect yourself to become this mindful person 100% of the time. Do believe, though, that if you practice being mindful and sprinkle more of these moments into your life, when you find yourself overwhelmed with the to-do list that seems to never end, your response is one that is less reactive and more calm, in control, and kind.