What Kids Can Teach Us About Mindfulness
Jim Gaffigan, comedian and father of five, said, “People treat having a kid as somehow retiring from success. Quitting. Have you seen a baby? They’re pretty cute. Loving them is pretty easy. Smiling babies should actually be categorized by the pharmaceutical industry as a powerful antidepressant. Being happy is really the definition of success, isn’t it?”
Jim also knows, as all parents know, that parenting involves much more than chasing happiness. Raising children is a wild ride full of mistakes, frustrations, happiness, and rewards. However, even on the most challenging day, there are lessons that your pint-sized counterparts can impart. Here is what your kids (yes, your kids) can teach you about mindful living:
- Let it go. You probably know this only in Frozen soundtrack form, but it’s a great motto for the trials and tribulations of parenting. Kids know to “let it go” intrinsically. They can be overwrought and exhausted, but they’ll happily bounce back to themselves within a few hours. They don’t dwell on a difficult moment and let it snowball into a bad day. A bad moment can be just that…a bad moment.
- No more “shoulds”. Kids tend to live in the moment and don’t talk themselves out of experiences. If children feel something, they feel it wholly. As adults, we often have inner dialogues which cuts our feelings down, and we talk ourselves into feeling a certain way. However, if you are living and feeling as you should, instead of how you are, this is the opposite of mindfulness.
- Noticing is mindfulness. When you walk your kids home from school every day they may point out bugs, clouds, or new puddles. It can be so tempting to rush them home so you can finish dinner, but try to join them more often in appreciating the little things. Guess what this practice of noticing is called? Mindfulness.
- Move joyfully. We look at movement and exercise as work, but it wasn’t always this way. As children, we looked at sitting as the work! Try to get in touch with the version of your body that not only craves movement, but also rejoices in it. Exercise doesn’t have to be formal or intense. It can be stretching the muscles that are overused and exhausted, or it can be silly-dancing to a song with your kids. Every day offers you limitless possibilities so you can inhabit your skin from a mindful place.
- Let your belly relax. We are charmed by little children’s bellies, yet as we get older we train ourselves to suck it in. This is doing ourselves a disservice, as allowing ourselves to breathe from the belly relaxes the nervous system and calms the mind. Practice breathing like a sleeping child and you will quickly realize how relaxing it can be.
There are many times in life when you will teach your children great lessons, but your children can also become your teachers. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. Don’t plan and worry about what is ahead! Enjoy this day with your little ones, they have been waiting for you to join them in the present.
Courtney Sunday runs a travelling yoga school and teaches meditation and yoga around the world. Courtney is also a health and travel writer who is working on her first novel, one day at a time. You can find out more about her at www.courtneysunday.com and https://somuchyoga.com.