3 Ways to be Mindful as a Parent

I’ve heard three descriptions of mindfulness lately that help me understand it better. Here they are, in order of difficulty!mom meditating

  1. (Hardest) Mindfulness is the gap in time when our brain is not using us.  It is the moment we can still our thoughts, calm our judgments, and separate who we are from everything we think and do.
  2. (Less difficult) Mindfulness is being exquisitely present in the current moment, not concerned with events of the past or worried about what may happen in the future.  It involves paying close attention to all of the physical sensations (the warmth inside our hands, the smell of the eraser our child is using,) and emotions (gratitude that someone else emptied the dishwasher, distress about helping our child with the math homework they are doing,) we are experiencing right now, but without reacting to or becoming attached to those sensations or emotions.
  3. (Least difficult) Mindfulness is flow.  It is engaging completely in something we are so good at or so enjoy that we are not thinking about anything else.  For an athlete, that may be playing the game.  For a software engineer, that may be becoming engrossed in the writing of code.  For a parent, that may be preparing the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, singing the diaper-changing song, reading the bedtime story, or maintaining the emotional availability while listening to what happened at school that day.  We won’t always perform these activities in a state of flow.  But when we do, we become less aware of the passage of time.  Concerns about the past or future fade.  Sometimes we even get out of the way of ourselves to become more available for someone else.  Then mindfulness can become “mindsight,” or the interpersonal mindfulness of our own self attuned to someone else.

To hear a discussion of how to use mindsight in Mindful Parenting, watch this.


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