Everything’s sort of got on top of me recently. I’ve found little things a lot of work. It’s all not helped, though, by my mind’s insistence that worrying and existing anywhere but the here and now is going to make things easier. Because it doesn’t. And it actually destroys any chance I have of peace of mind, which is about the only thing I need to get through this moment in my story.
Not being mindful gets in the way of the time I spend with my kids, it makes me present in body and not in spirit, it causes me to be restless and irritable and just to set myself up to fail in what I want to achieve. And I’m talking about the small things like just getting through the day without snapping at anyone.
So as I meander my way through Buddhism for Mothers, I’ve been taking more seriously the idea that mindfulness might be the answer to most of the way I’m feeling right now. But there are some barriers in our modern, postmodern or (more likely) postpostpostmodern lives to actually achieving mindfulness in our daily lives, like it actually working for us. I say ‘us’ because I don’t think I’m alone in the way I feel.
What all this gloom and doom thinking has done for me, though, is alerted me to the things that hinder our ability to be in the moment and live where we are, and do it right now.
Now, I love looking at what everyone’s been up to today on Facebook and reading what everyone thinks about what everyone has been up to today on Twitter as much as the next person, but it’s not an aid to being present in any situation. I can’t feel my body when I’m scrolling, only hear my mind’s commentary on this or that event or opinion and really, with a head full of opinions anyway, I don’t need any more.
I notice a difference between scrolling and skimming and actually coming across something valuable to read and shaving it for later, when I can actually give it my time and full attention. Social media has its place in my life, but not when I’m already trying to do two other things at once, like get two kids dressed and make breakfast.
I have overscheduled my kids recently, I have. Not that I’ve pushed them (or him, since it’s only really my 3 year old who has been overscheduled) into all sorts of complicated learning environments to hone this or that skill, but I’ve just tried to cram too much into their days.
I’ve also overscheduled myself – do this, get here, pick this up on the way/way home, don’t forget this or that. It’s a constant to-do list that I can never see the end of. And mindfulness can’t possibly be welcomed into a situation where the whole time is spent trying to get from A to B whilst touching C, D and E in between.
Imposing my expectations on my kids
My three year old looks huge compared to my newly one year-old. But he’s still three, and he has a lot to learn about how the ebb and flow and up and down of daily life works. Expecting him to deal with disappointment, resolve conflict and temper his excitement all in the space of one morning is probably asking a little too much. So being playful, being there, being totally there, is a way of helping me help him to cope with these big emotions and his daily journeys.
Worrying (about things that are beyond my control)
I’ve heard the phrase that worrying about something never makes it better, and it’s dead-on. And worrying about something that I absolutely can’t control, sometimes in the past but most often in the future, MEANS that I cannot be in the present moment. I can’t.
So eliminating worry and implementing mindfulness – Where am I? What am I doing? Who am I with? – is really the only way to go towards making sure that time and energy isn’t wasted and taken away from the time and energy I need in that moment with my children.
So what is mindfulness and how can one begin to practise it with children running around?
A good start, as taken from Buddhism for Mothers, is to ask yourself a few questions if you feel yourself getting caught up in thinking rather than being. The last week or so, I’ve stopped the thought process that has been preoccupying me needlessly by asking, “What am I doing? What can I hear? What can I feel? What can I see?”. It brings me into now and here and, well, it’s all a bit of reminding myself that I’m human, just another human.
The result of unmindfulness (or mindlessness?!):
The feeling of being permanently overwhelmed
Um, yeh that’s me a lot of the time I’m awake and even sometimes when I’m asleep.
The feeling of never being alone
With overthinking and unmindfulness comes (in my life) a feeling of constantly existing in relation to others and never really being fully present in my own body, as a standalone being.
Too many thoughts
And too little time. I actually find a to-do list pretty helpful here, and designating actual time to get through it, rather than battling my way through it the whole day, bit by bit.
So we’ll see how it goes. You’ve got to be the change you want to see, right? And I want to see peace and oneness and tranquility. So here goes.
This is not a sponsored post, however if you do buy a copy of Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali as a result of being inspired by this post, through this link, I will get a teeny tiny bit of commission (I think):