With so many inputs in any given day, especially if you’re parenting young kids in this season of life, it’s easy to spend much of your time preoccupied -- with worries and To-Do lists (the future) or regrets and the good old days (the past). We’re zoomed forward or backward in time and missing what’s happening in this moment, whether it’s the hot water running over your face in the shower or the clouds passing overhead as you walk across the parking lot.
In his TED talk, All it takes is 10 mindful minutes, Andy Puddicombe cites Harvard research that our minds are lost in thought almost 47 percent of the time. 47 percent! So we quite literally spend half our lives in our own heads unless we consciously take action to bring ourselves back to the here and now.
Mindfulness is one of those concepts that takes seconds to understand but much longer to master. It’s simply paying full attention to the present moment, being fully immersed in what we’re doing and whom we’re with.
Fortunately, with mindfulness and meditation becoming more widely practiced in recent years, there are a lot of supports available as we build this skill.
- The Headspace, Calm, and Shine apps have guided meditations and other tools, like random notifications with mindfulness tips.
- You can use a three-breath pause to center you as you transition from one activity to the next (and also to calm down when upset or anxious).
- Paying attention to sensory detail, the sights and smells and sounds around you, anchors you in the present.
The key is to be patient with yourself – and I’m talking to myself here! – and just to bring your attention back when it wanders. Because it will. It’s the nature of our monkey minds. Mindfulness is an ongoing practice, not a destination.
Even one mindful moment in your day is better than none at all. And with practice, you’ll create more and more of them. Even on the busiest days, what’s more important than experiencing our one wild and precious life with awareness as often as we can?