How to Bring Mindfulness into Your Home or School
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. It can be practiced anywhere, including at home and school. There are many benefits to mindfulness, including improved focus, reduced stress, and increased self-awareness. Life parenting a snuggly two year old tornado and a high energy preschooler can feel overwhelming and full of unrelenting demands. I had a difficult time connecting my pre-child practices (early morning yoga + meditation + journaling) with present time constraints. Then I listened to a podcast interview with a favorite author, Susan Kaiser Greenland and she spoke of taking three deep breaths as a family each morning as they left the house. That was the extent of their doable commitment. This inspiring author and mindfulness teacher had a practice of three breaths-- that was something that I could put into practice and I invite you to try it.
A Mindful Moment
When we first think about mindfulness, we may assume that we should start with a quiet, calm aesthetically pleasing place to sit or lie down. For those of us who live with young humans, this first assumed step may be non-existent, so then we might feel frustrated or give up entirely. I encourage you to look around your space and take a mindful moment of breath by placing one hand on your sternum and one on your belly in the midst of your laundry, the dog barking and the kids yelling. Notice and acknowledge how you are feeling. Whatever that feeling is, validate it. Take another deep breath in, a longer breath out and carry on with the crazy chaos.
A Mindful Activity At Home or School
Pick one thing that you do everyday that is small and simple. Brushing your teeth, washing a cup, sharpening pencils, the smaller the act, the better. Commit to doing this one thing with your full attention everyday for seven days. No phone, no music, no texting, no television. Just you and the activity with as little judgment as possible. Notice your breathing, your feelings, the sensation of the act in your hands. Take note of what you notice.
Next time you are feeling busy or multitasking, and your child (or children) ask for your attention. Make eye contact and tell them that they must wait. See them and be seen while you set, hold your boundary, then and return to your task. It is important that you give an accurate time estimate and stop the activity when you tell them you will. This builds trust in you while you finish your task.
One Minute Meditation
If you don’t already have a regular meditation practice, carve out one minute everyday for the next seven days to sit in a quiet space away from your children. If you already meditate regularly, add one minute to your practice. Just one minute. Focus on your breath, however you are feeling, send yourself acceptance for however you are feeling.There is an Old Zen saying, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” After parenting for five years, I understand there is always something to do, something to plan, laundry to fold so we can make ourselves our own priority and focus on our self-care first and foremost. The children in your life will benefit.