Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t). -James Baraz
That first sentence really hits home with me because I see it every day with my oldest son. He doesn’t play with his cars hoping that he can do something else when he gets bored. He plays and focuses on what’s right before him. Parents can identify with this idea because they see their kids go from angels to demons in a split second. They see their children be fixated on whatever is in front of them. The second part of that quote applies to our experience with children as well. They do a great job of enjoying the pleasant but they do freak out when that changes. When we tell them they cannot play anymore because it’s time to go to bed. Another example is when you tell your children they can not have dessert before dinner. There is a momentary freakout. The beautiful thing with how kids see the world is usually that freak out is momentary. They move on much quicker than us adults. The last part of the quote is another great takeaway. As adults, we know that most unpleasant things will pass. Hell, we even tell our children that their freakout will be over soon enough. Once they eat their peas they can have their dessert. The real question is, why don’t we take our own advice?
How can we live in the moment like our children? Do you know what that even means? While you’re reading this are you paying attention to these words or are you focused on something else? If you’re focused on something else then maybe read this another time. You’ll miss the point and that’s ok.
Better yet you’re still reading this so you’re starting to get the point. If you’ve never noticed your child playing then this will be news to you. Their imaginations are so great that the only thing that matters is the car they’re playing with right now or picture they’re drawing right now. When was the last time you were that focused on the moment?
Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
To answer that question for yourself, think back to your wedding day or the birth of your first child. Can you remember each moment precisely? Can you relive that moment again? Those were layups. Those are the moments that you are completely engulfed in your life. What about the other times in life that are much smaller? Those are just as important.
Watching Peyton Manning’s farewell speech once he decided to retire he said something to the effect, “Pay attention to the small things because when you look back on your life the small things are usually the big things”. That still resonates with me today. That high five from a teammate while working out. The hug from your child when you walk in the door from a long day at work. The kiss goodbye with your spouse before you go and attack the day. These are the moments in life that should not be routine. Once they become routine they become automatic. Once they become automatic you’re never really tapping into your inner super-hero. Kids live this way.
Good or bad, kids are able to live in the moment. For the moment because they do not know better. That’s why it takes work for us adults. We have too much on our mind to focus on the little things or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves that we should be doing something else. We tell ourselves that we should be focused on something else. Does your kid ever say, “hmm maybe I should be drawing right now instead of playing with my cars”? No, they do not say that. They are engulfed in what they’re currently doing.
The practice of mindfulness begins in the small, remote cave of your unconscious mind and blossoms with the sunlight of your conscious life, reaching far beyond the people and places you can see. -Earon Davis
Is it ever a bad thing to be completely in the moment? If you’re still reading this by now then you know the answer. NO! It’s never a bad thing to be completely engulfed in the moment. The question is how do you become more engulfed in the moment. Yes, meditation works. Yes, slowing your breathing and focusing on your breath works. No, that’s not what I am recommending. Those both work and if you read my posts before you know they work because you’ve tried them. Mindfulness is just that, being mindful of what you’re currently doing. Not focused on what you could be doing. Not being focused on what you should be doing. Mindfulness is about choices. It’s about choosing to be live in the now. So, put your phone down and pay attention to the little things before life passes you by. The email can wait. The tweet can wait. The only thing that matters is what you’re choosing to do now. Right now. Here’s the mantra that I tell myself every morning: Be in the moment. Be present in the moment. Be patient in the moment.