A funny thing happened the other day. I was watching my two-year-old son run circles around the backyard. He said he was in a race and asked if I could watch how fast he could run.
“Sure,” I said and watched his little legs sprint as hard as they could across the lawn. But halfway around the yard, he stopped.
I was about to ask what was wrong when he reached out his tiny hand and grabbed a leaf off the elm tree in the middle of our yard. He stared at the leaf, turned it over in his hand and studied it with intense focus, oblivious to the fact that he was meant to be in a race.
Then he looked at me, smiled and continued around the yard until he finished his race. “Did you see me? I was super-fast!”
I was more impressed with his ability to stop in the middle of a race to check out a leaf than his super-fast running skill. He had literally shown me how to implement mindfulness in everyday life with a single leaf.
My toddler continued to do some more super-fast laps around the yard, blissfully unaware of the revelation he’d provided me.
Later, I asked why he’d stopped to pick a leaf from the tree, and he replied:
“Because it was fun.”
It was as simple as that.
It made me wonder if I could stop what I was doing in the middle of my busy day to enjoy a single moment with my metaphorical leaf.
So that’s exactly what I did.
That night, while preparing dinner, I made a conscious effort to be in the moment. I focused my attention on the smell of the mushrooms as I stir-fried them in the wok. I love the smell of cooking mushrooms, almost as much as cooking onions, especially with a chunk of real butter added in for extra flavour. I lost myself in the myriad of earthy aromas.
My toddler interrupted my thoughts and asked, “Why do your eyes look funny?”
“Because mama’s smelling mushrooms.”
My toddler seemed to accept that as a perfectly sensible answer and left me alone to my mushroom-smelling.
Mindfulness is hard.
I’m still learning how to implement mindfulness in everyday life. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed by the ever-growing daily chores or to feel anxious about how fast the day goes by and how little I feel I’ve accomplished.
When I consciously stop and take a mental time-out from my day-to-day life, I notice that I am calmer. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of life, especially with young kids. For my own sanity, I need to be able to take a mental break from it all, even just to recharge and refocus my energy.
Sometimes I’d love to indulge in mindless television-watching or curling up to a book for a few carefree hours. But that’s a luxury I don’t have with young kids.
However, I can still achieve that same sense of mental calmness with mindfulness. Taking small conscious breaks throughout the day to simply enjoy and appreciate the little things, the good things in life, the happy things.
Because it’s too easy to get caught up in all the negativity going on in this world. I’d like to leave that negativity on my doorstep, wipe my shoes clean of it, and step into a house full of warmth, positivity and hope. With mindfulness, I feel I can do that.
It’s something I’ll keep working on, probably for the rest of my life. And that doesn’t make me anxious one little bit.