The three-word guide on mindfulness
Updated: Apr 11
My 6-year-old son is swinging on the swing. I am swinging his younger brother on the other swing. My husband is standing facing me and the boys, just far enough not to be hit. A cold wet November morning is turning into a crispy sunny day. It's only the four of us on the playground. My son says: "Ah, I can feel the sun on my face. Let's all close our eyes and just feel our breath and enjoy the motion of the swings and the sun on our faces. It's very calming." My husband and I exchange looks surprised by our son's maturity. And we all close our eyes, and despite the silence, feel deeply connected. It was the most amazing thing that happened that day, that week and we all remember it. I don't know where my son had got it from. We might have mentioned to him & his brother the beauty of silence (on various occasions), his school PE had lessons on yoga breathing, and my son has a philosopher in him. Still, I was fascinated by how he intuitively put it all together and applied this simple recipe for mindfulness:
Be here & now*
Standing in the November sun, calm but fully present, sharing this magical moment with my family, not thinking about the next thing to do, grateful for everything I have in my life, felt like a warm hug for my racing brain. We all know the feeling when we do one thing and think about something else. We eat and think about chores and do not even notice the taste of food. We play with our kid but think about work. During rare (in a household with young kids) moments of intimacy, our mind starts to worry about tomorrow. The result is we get things done, but do not get joy or energy from doing them, because we are on autopilot. The mind of a working mama like me needs a daily dose of mindfulness to gain perspective, to remind her to enjoy the journey and taste the fruits of all her hard work balancing the roles of mother, wife, lover, professional, daughter, sister, neighbour.
So I challenge you to "be here & now" 3 times a day, every day for the next week. Invite your partner or a friend to be your buddy for accountability. The practice is super easy: focus 100% on what you are doing and do it with gusto! When eating, enjoy the food. When with your kid, get lost in the play. When with your partner, bring all your senses to the service of you connecting. If your only chance for a walk today is from the nursery drop-off back home to work - walk slowly, enjoy the sky, listen to birds chirping, spend those 5 minutes with gusto! In parenting, talking with friends, work, play and intimacy, it's quality over quantity.
(You might also like this article on The Time Trap: Stop Thinking About Time in Minutes.)
P.S. Another form of mindfulness practice is the "sitting practice". Read the sitting practice instructions in this article on Managing Stress.
*I thank my friend (you know who you are) for giving me the idea for the three words. Ici et Maintenant.