OPINION: Breathe in, breathe out. Look out the window. Count to 10. Sip a cup of tea. Spend five minutes doing absolutely nothing.
From floating in salt water pods to scribbling in adult colouring books, why are we paying money to achieve mindfulness and what does it mean to be ‘in the moment’?
Just ask my three year old, who places little importance in anything beyond the present moment.
Ask him, the boy who’s squealing and giggling as he races away from me, dressed only in his undies, as I try to hustle him out the door for Mainly Music.
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Just ask him, the lad who stretches the five-minute jaunt to kindy to 15 minutes because he’s stopped to talk to the sheep, look at the sky, point out where he banged his leg, and explain in detail about a dream he had last night.
What’s the rush for, Mummy? Everything I’m wanting to do is right here, right now.
My son got a watch for his birthday. He’s so proud of that black rubber wristband that his fledgling concept of time matters little. When anyone asks, he’s learned that “ha-past” will generally suffice.
I count down, I use stop-watches, and each day begins with us discussing what day it is and where we need to be, if anywhere.
“Your friends will be waiting,” spurs about five minutes of energy. “Let’s get there early and I can read you a story” at least sees us through to the next distraction.
My son is a smart boy. I may be biased but I know that kid has the power of observation. A skill which took me eight years of news reporting to hone, he has been born with, it seems. He will recognise a tyre shop we have been to once in a busy industrial suburb in Auckland. He will comment when our neighbour wears her hair differently one day. He recognises the string used to close our blinds is the same as we had in our old house, which we lived in nine months ago.
He was born with a questioning look. His baby photos showcase a signature considered frown. When he started to talk at age one, we began to know why.
“Why, why, why?”
My little thinker’s powers of observation can also get the better of him.
He’ll recite an insult he’s overheard for kicks, “I eat losers for breakfast!” (thanks Lightning McQueen). A scary scene from an animated movie will stay with him for days. And I’ve discovered which words I overuse when they pop up in his vocabulary. “It’s exhausting, eh Mama?”
Yet with all that he hears, it’s still been a battle to get him to listen. When I sat down and thought about it though, I realised I wasn’t modelling the behaviour I wanted him to adopt. I saw flashbacks of myself sending a hurried text message, putting away dishes, chatting with hubby. You know how it is, I was in the room but I wasn’t always present.
Some people go to great lengths to become more mindful. You can literally be left alone with nothing but your own thoughts in a darkened, skin temperature saltwater floatation tank.
Personally, I find just spending five minutes washing my face after I’ve put the kids to bed a relaxing enough treat. Heck, 10 minutes spent doing dishes on my own is an act of meditation these days.
Remaining ‘in the moment’ when the kids are up and demanding my attention is another story.
I’ve started focusing on slow parenting. Running along the mindfulness vein, the movement focuses on dropping a weekly activity or two to free up more time for meaningful moments and conversation with your kids.
As I’ve begun to do this, I’ve observed how baking together has a calming effect on my son and I both.
This week we found ourselves with a free morning and nothing pressing to do. We baked pikelets. That afternoon I sent my son to kindy happy, relaxed and with a full lunchbox and tummy.
However much we pull back, it’s granted there will always be days where we still need to rush.
But when I’m feeling burnt out, I won’t attribute it to a lack of full-body massages and salt-water floating. Though I’m sure it would help.
First I’ll take it as an indicator that I need to slow down my pace and join my son as he ponders over a worm on the ground.
Then I’ll endeavour to get up earlier tomorrow.
– Taranaki Daily News