4 May 2017
My children have taught me more about mindfulness than any book, podcast or teacher.
The seemingly simple act of mindfulness – being fully present to the moment and observing any thoughts and feelings without getting caught-up in them – is something that we are clearly born with.
I believe over time mindfulness is conditioned out of our behaviour or we become so caught up in our own concerns that we lose the art of it.
I took a day off work this week to look after my children while their carer was sick so we went to the NGV International in Melbourne.
From my children’s devoted attention to creating their masterpieces in the Fiona Hall Uneasy Seasons installation, to their reckless abandon engaging with the outdoor architectural commission, and the concerted effort to plant ALL the acorns so they would grow into tress, they were present. Fully present.
Meanwhile I watched on and thought about how wet they were getting, whether I had spare clothes that fitted them in the car, how we would make it back to the car without a pram if they were freezing cold and wanted to be carried.
I thought about our parking meter running out. How we were going to spend the remainder of the afternoon. Whether the sequence I’d planned for that night’s yoga class was too tough. Could I squeeze in a meditation class 6.30am Monday morning at A-SPACE etc. etc. etc. You get the picture.
Is it because children aren’t burdened by their past or weighed down by the responsibilities of their future? Is it that simple?
As parents, teachers, mentors and adults, we have to take some responsibility.
Eckhart Tolle noted in his recent talk in Melbourne, how parents are always drawing their children out of the present moment with their demands – “brush your teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast”. Guilty as charged.
One morning this week I did a little test. After we ate breakfast together, I let our children just do whatever. All morning, which is about one-and-a-half hours in our house of early risers.
I said I’d let them know when they had 15 minutes until we had to leave the house for kinder and school drop-off.
If they wanted to get ready before the 15 minute reminder, that would be great and to call out if they needed any help.
It worked brilliantly. They were all pretty much ready by the 15 minute reminder.
And with the novelty of a stopwatch, 15 minutes is all it took to get three children aged three to six out the door.
We can’t parent ideally all the time. However, studies show that children thrive off only eight minutes of one-on-one attention every day.
So being mindful together will undoubtedly benefit both parent and child.
Eckhart Tolle refers to using ‘clock time’ when we purposefully step out of the present to plan, as well as reflect on lessons learned from the past.
How about as parents we set ourselves ‘piss-farting-around time’?
In Piss-Farting-Around Time we would ‘just be’ with our kids and live as kids do – present to the moment and all this beautiful world can offer if we stopped, looked, listened, smelt and breathed it all in.
Concentrating so hard on the task at hand that no other thought takes over our consciousness.
So in Mindful May, here’s to Piss-Farting-Around Time!
There’s a New York Times best-seller in it I’m sure.