Posts tagged #present moment

Mindfulness

I’m a ‘busy’ person by nature, and by that what I really mean is my mind is constantly on the go.  We don’t go out much, we’re not part of any sporting groups, and we aren’t even what you’d call domestically motivated - yet I feel busy because my mind rarely rests. 

This busy feeling has been compounded by the day-to-day drill of parenting, and a sense that every minute is occupied.  If I’m not making lunches or packing bags, I’m wiping bums or breaking up squabbles; all the while doing so to the background music of my sometimes anxious, sometimes list-making, sometimes slightly insane mummy thoughts. 

Being Present

"All we have is this moment"

"All we have is this moment"

It seems the older I get, the more I struggle with being present in the moment. Ironically, the older I get, the more I realise the importance of being just that.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PRESENT AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?

There is so much written on this topic, and I’m by no means an expert, but for the sake of brevity here’s my quick take on what the present moment is. The present moment is now. It is the only moment we can directly control. All other moments (past and future) only exist in our minds. The present is the moment in between these two states. Therefore, “being present” is about being fully engaged in the moment without looking backwards or forwards. When I refer to being present, I’m not just referring to this sense of “now”, I’m also referring to the concept of being fully attentive and focused on the person and/or moment at hand.

THERE'S A PARTICULAR CARTOON THAT SPRINGS TO MIND WHEN I THINK OF "BEING PRESENT" AND "BEING A PARENT".

Can I Call you back

How often in recent years have you been able to have a quiet conversation on the phone, fully focused on the person you are talking to and entirely present? I’ve gotten so used to the cut-off sentences and interrupted discussions that I’ve almost forgotten how to have a meaningful conversation with my family. As much as our family and friends understand and offer us some slack, our inability to remain focused and attentive (that is, to remain present), can be really damaging to our relationships. We need to find a balance.

BEING PRESENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN IS ALSO A THOUSAND TIMES MORE IMPORTANT THAN MOST THINGS WE FOCUS OUR ATTENTION ON.

So often I’ve been distracted, by getting the dinner on or thinking about t he ten things I want to finish before bedtime, that I have not fully savoured special moments with my children. I always offer acknowledgement, but it can be slightly dismissive, inattentive and/or vague.

I’ve written before on the topic of rushing childhood, and what I’m saying now very closely relates. Our children are fully absorbed in the ‘now’. This is what makes them so wide-eyed and beautiful. This is why they smile so quickly after they cry. This is why they find fun in the smallest of adventures.

I completely understand the importance of day jobs, chores, and maintenance tasks...and I don’t for a second disregard that these are necessary distractions at times. What I’m getting at is, again, balance. We need to find the ability to pull ourselves away from the mind chatter of the past and future, and focus on the now. We need to push back on this notion of chasing the future - rushing through what we’re doing in order to make it to the next moment, only to get there to find we’re rushing through that moment too. If we fail to do so, we risk not only missing out on precious moments as we are steaming ahead to tomorrow, or reflecting back on yesterday, but we also risk damaging our children’s sense of self-worth and esteem in the process.

Being Present Mama Pyjama

IN LIGHT OF THIS, I HOPE YOU'LL JOIN ME THIS WEEK IN BEING MORE 'PRESENT'...

Here are some suggestions to get us all started.

BREATHE: If you find your mind racing with past or future-based thoughts, use your breath to slow your thoughts down and pull yourself back to the present. I have read that the simple act of breathing through your nose (rather than your mouth ) can help do just that. Focus in particular on the outgoing breath.

PUT DOWN THE GADGETS: If your child wants to show you their latest dance move, or the rock they just found - put down your phone or tablet, step away from your computer and get down to their level and watch. Give them your full, undivided attention for five minutes and then resume what you are doing. I have a feeling we’ll find that doing this will actually allow us to be more productive as our children won’t feel compelled to constantly fight for our attention. Fingers crossed!

BE CONSCIOUS OF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS: Generally speaking, negative thoughts are usually based on past hurts or future anxieties, and therefore indicate that you are not entirely present. Be aware this week of negative thoughts. When they arise, actively seek to let them go or at least to acknowledge where they come from and begin working on ways to resolve those hurts and anxieties.

MAKE THE TIME: Make the time to connect with your family/friends this week. Even if it is just a 10 minute conversation immediately following the children going to bed, make the time. Relish in your ability to have a conversation involving full sentences, and focus on every word they are saying. This may require locking yourself in a white padded room with no view of dishes, laundry or the computer/TV…but whatever it takes to shut off the mind chatter and distractions for 10 minutes, do it.

FOCUS ON MONDAY'S MANTRA: “Whatever the present moment contains, embrace it as if you had chosen it.” (Eckhart Tolle) There is a great deal of power in taking control of your life in a positive way. If you can allow yourself to believe that everything that is placed in front of you has a meaning and a positive purpose (to teach you something, to send you in a new direction, to act as a catalyst to healing etc), and if you can treat each moment as if you had specifically chosen it, you’re not only “being present” but your positive and empowered reactions to the moment will mean you are making the absolute most of it too.

Waiting

"What are we waiting for?"

"What are we waiting for?"

Ever sat back and thought about how much of your life you spend waiting?  Waiting for the mail to come, waiting for someone to return home, waiting for lunchtime, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for a holiday, waiting for your moment to arrive…

Kind of sad really.  Whilst we’re busy waiting, our life is passing us by without a second thought.

Thinking about the future isn’t a BAD thing.  Having plans and setting goals are essential to our motivation, drive and sense of being.  But filling up all our todays with the notion that tomorrow will bring bigger and better things can be dangerous.  After all, tomorrow becomes today when it arrives, so it’s really not a maintainable approach. 

If you’re in the early months (ok…years) of parenting and stuck in the mode of “survival waiting” (waiting to sleep, waiting to eat, waiting for your partner to return home and save you from your sleep-deprived self), I feel for you.  It is really hard and it can do really nasty things to your motivation and sense of self.  You can get lost in the cycle of waiting – and forget almost completely at times to enjoy the moment you are in.  I know that talk is cheap, and that most things are easier said than done…but if you can try to remind yourself that things WILL get easier, that the time WILL pass without you needing to sit and watch the clock, and all the things you are waiting for will eventually arrive, it may help bring you back into the living moment.  Try to stop focusing on passing the time and start focusing on enjoying the moment for what it brings.

Again, I know, not the sort of stuff you need someone telling you when you’ve got a screaming newborn in your arms and you’re functioning on an hour’s sleep…Perhaps reserve the “survival waiting” for moments like these?

As a parent I’ve found myself saying these sorts of things on a regular basis:

It’ll be easier when they are sleeping through the night. It’ll be easier when they can feed themselves.  It’ll be easier when they can talk, walk, dress themselves, explain what’s hurting, tell me when they’re hungry…the list goes on and on.  It is so easy to fall into this cycle of thinking, and I’m sure it’s pre-programmed in us to get us through the tough times.  But…and I know I risk coming out sounding like an annoying twat, the time really does pass so quickly.  Before you know it they’re off to kindy, dressing themselves and telling you the “right” way to cook their dinner and fix their hair.  We can waste away a lot of these precious baby moments whilst we’re focused on waiting for the next phase to start.  And besides, the reality is that no matter how much hope you are pinning on the next phase solving your current difficulties it will inevitably bring with it its own set of unique challenges. 

There are many other types of waiting, “sanity waiting” for the kids to go to bed so you have you time out, gather your thoughts and do stuff for yourself.  There’s “fear waiting” for the perfect time to follow your dreams, indulge your passions, take that leap of faith.  There’s “anticipation waiting” for the holiday, the weekend, the next big event.  No matter what type of waiting it is, it all comes back to the same dilemma.  Whilst we’re busy waiting, our focus is taken away from the given moment.  Sometimes that moment is bad.  Sometimes it’s boring.  Sometimes it’s tough.  Sometimes it doesn’t bear thinking about.  But sometimes it is great, precious, unable to be captured… sometimes it’s beautiful. 

So let’s try to stop this waiting game, or at least put the brakes on it a little bit.  The time is now.  Enjoy it, indulge in it, live it, survive it, treasure it and put your faith in knowing that everything will continue to tick along in the background with or without you urging it along.