Wednesday, 19 March 2014

5 ways to bring a bit of mindfulness in to family life

"Mindfulness - awareness of the present moment with acceptance." (C.K.Germer)

Meet my gurus, Caitlin, Erin and Isla.  I didn't think about anything like mindfulness before they came in to my life.  It's thanks to them that I began (as cliched as it is) a journey, with them in my life I started to question "How do I want to live?"  For me, mindfulness was the answer.  To try to practice mindfulness has been one of the most important things I have done for myself and for my children.  So, how do I practice?

1.  I try to make sure we have lots of time to do what we need to do.  We are awake early in the morning to make sure we have  lots of time to get ready for school.  I don't like to feel rushed and it is in moments when I feel rushed that it's harder to feel calm and mindful of the present moment.  I try to arrive early for appointments or meetings with friends.  I can then take a few moments to think about what I am about to do.  

2.  I like routine, because of certain routines in my life I can practice more presence of mind as I'm not caught up in the practicalities of every day life.  An example would be meal planning, because I've already planned for the week what we're going to have for dinner it means I don't have a last minute dash to the shops.  In the afternoons when my two bigger gurus are back from school I can spend time with them as I've already started dinner earlier that day.  I can be around for them if they want to do something together.  

3.  Order in the home is a big one for me, when the house gets messy it drives me crazy and mindfulness goes out of the window.  When I try to maintain order, putting laundry away, dealing with the post, etc it makes me feel calmer.  Less visual clutter means less mental clutter, which in turn means that I can be more aware of the present moment.

4.  Sometimes on my 'to-do list' I will add things that aren't necessarily urgent but are important to me.  Making time in the day to so something fun with my children such as taking some funny photos or even just making sure I sit and share a book with my toddler.  I find if it goes on the list I am more likely to do it.  I can be more mindful of how I really want to spend my time.

5.  One of the easiest ways I have found to be more mindful and present with my children is to get out and about.  When we visit a park or a forest I am away from home and away from so many distractions, household tasks, the computer, etc.  All I have to do is enjoy the time with my gurus, playing with them, listening to them, just enjoying their presence.  

There you have it, just a few of the things I have learned that have helped me bring more mindfulness in to my day.  I wonder if you have any you could share?



Friday, 7 March 2014

Mindfulness is delicious

If you are lucky enough to have someone in your life, a partner, children, or a pet perhaps, to be mindful of time spent with them is indeed 'delicious'.  I am lucky enough to have a partner and three young children and I cherish them all so much.  Practicing mindfulness for me means to imagine that I didn't have these people in my life, what would my life be like?  Perhaps it might be a 'good' life in a different way but I am very glad that I have this life, that I met this partner and had these three children.  When I hug my partner, when I cuddle and kiss my children and I stop to just savour the moment it is ... delicious.   

When I stop for a moment, rushing from one task to another, and I close my eyes and just breathe for a few seconds it is like a quick soothing tonic.  A delicious tonic.  Having paused for a few seconds I now know what I need to do next, to start making dinner, to do some homework with one of my daughters or to take care of myself for a few moments and simply make a cup of tea.  

Mindfulness is delicious and calming and peaceful and life changing. There is no drink or sweet to compare to the deliciousness of drinking in the present moment, especially if I'm holding one of my loved ones in my arms. 

Friday, 28 February 2014

Just play

"No place to go, nothing to do, nothing to attain."
(Heart Sutra, Mahayana Buddhism)

These words have been so soothing and peaceful to me over the last few days.  Not that I'm particularly busy or stressed at the moment.  Just the usual day to day busyness of raising three children.  On a beautiful, sunny but chilly day we headed out to one of our favourite parks.  We stayed all day, just playing and eating ice cream and just being with each other.  'No place to go, nothing to do, nothing to attain' ran like a mantra in my head.  All I had to do right now was play.  I was far from home, far from the distractions of all that needed to be done there.  We had our picnic lunch with us and I was ignoring my phone.  All I had to 'do' was breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the sun on my face and imitate the ease with which my daughters can just be in the moment and just play.

We played in the sand, we played on the swings, the pirate ship, the slide and the climbing frame.  We stayed for hours.  There was no where else I would rather have been, nothing else I would rather have been doing.  This is the essence of mindfulness.  Freeing my mind from distractions and deliberately rooting my presence in the here and now.  The here and now on this day was just wonderful and I basked in it.  Sometimes, on a beautiful day such as this 'Just play' should be at the top of the to-do list.  It should be the priority of the day.  "What are we going to do today Mummy?"  they asked me.  "Just play," I replied with a smile, "that's all we need to do today."