the world needs a mindfulness epidemic

Sky gazing

Sky gazing

The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Mindfulness is everywhere, or at least the word is. It is the catch cry of right now. But as wonderful as it sounds to BE in the moment, it is often a struggle in practice. The reality is that life is fast, and it’s the future and the past which swallow our present moments most of the time. The journey of now, is completely overlooked, with the goal (often hollow and meaningless), up on a pedestal consuming all of our energy.

Mindfulness is such a ridiculously simple concept, and one which makes perfect sense when you read about it, and when you’re doing it. The problem is that culturally we are motivated so differently. Life today is about continual achievement and getting stuff done, not about focusing on the minute details of life as you experience them. The concept of being closely connected to all of those around us is beautiful too, but other pressures in life are all consuming. Being distracted seems to be a very natural state for humans. At least it is for modern humans.

I’ve carried out extensive ‘experiments’ on my children (on myself really), where I focus on them completely for really long periods of time. I give them my full uninterrupted attention, continuous eye contact, loads of happy words, praise, and smiles. My attention doesn’t wander or waver. The entire time I’m doing it, I monitor their behaviour and responses closely. When I compare this to how they are when I am distracted, dismissive, and absorbed in other life stuff, the contrast is mind blowing, but not really surprising. It’s actually almost impossible for them to be unhappy or to misbehave when they feel so connected to me, in that moment. It’s so obvious, but the thing which is even more surprising is how easy it is to sustain, because of the mutual happiness it brings. That happiness is sustained in me when I bring mindfulness to any activity I do, even the most mundane.

Obviously our lives are complex, and simply being mindful and living life in the moment isn’t always possible. But why, if our happiness is greater, our human connections deeper, do we allow our minds to wander, our ‘to do’ lists to overwhelm us, and the call of life to ring louder than who we are with, and what we are doing right now, in this moment.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT and With Some Grace for FYBF

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20 thoughts on “the world needs a mindfulness epidemic

  1. An uplifting post, Michelle. It is a very conscious decision – living in and appreciating the moment – and as simple as it is in theory, our busy lives can make it hard to take the time out to do. But well worth it as you say. 🙂

  2. That is why we have a rule that there are no phones at meal times. No instagraming meals. No texting. No phone calls. That is the time we are together – sometimes the talk flows quickly, other times not so much BUT at the end of the meal, it’s a meal we have shared together without the distraction of others not there with us. These rules apply at home and out in public.
    I love how you can connect with your children (and them with you) when you are present with them, conscious of what you are doing and saying.
    Have the best day !
    Me xox

    • Don’t even get me started on screens and what impact they have!! Internet on hand held devices has been the single greatest factor in blocking people from being present in their lives that has ever occurred in the history of man. There I said it. Thanks for your comment.

  3. As you know this is something I am working on – being mindful, in the moment and making sure I am ‘here’ with my kids. I too notice that when I am fully focusing on the task or child at hand things run a lot smoother! Em – also visiting as part of #teamIBOT

  4. So beautifully explained. Just be there. Give your whole attention. It’s like the art or is it gift of actually really listening to a person when they are having a real conversation with you….giving undivided attention instead of needing and wanting to give your spin on it.
    Thanks for an enlightening post.
    Alexa
    http://www.Alexa-asimplelife.com

  5. A lovely post Michelle. I totally get what you describe about being mindful with your children. I do this with them a lot. However lately I wonder if they are getting to used to me being at their beck and call and forgetting how to play alone. I need to find a balance. But I would rather play in the mess than tidy it up 🙂

  6. Lovely post – as you say mindfulness is a catch-cry in our busy world, but it is so simple, yet difficult to sustain. I’ve been doing similar things with my kids, particularly our 4 year old, and he really responds, especially to eye contact at his level, and if I add holding his hand and really listening sometimes it feels like he is mesmerised by the attention – which makes me feel very guilty for all the times I’m distracted.

  7. Really interesting post but sorry can’t agree 100% with you. While there is no doubt that being in the moment and focused is a wonderful thing to do the risk is that other factors outside your sphere of mindfulness become neglected. For me doing what I am currently doing must be done to the best of my ability but within a balanced framework of self, others and the environment. I find that if I don’t do that mindfullness can easily morph into obsession. But that’s just me.

    • That’s really interesting too. I’ve obviously been thinking about mindfulness a lot, but realise I probably haven’t covered every angle! Since I’ve written this, I have been contemplating all sorts of different life scenarios and how mindfulness would ‘fit’. The fact that I’ve only used the example of human interaction probably limits the conversation a bit. But I think in almost every type of work or hobby or sport or anything, it would be useful. When wouldn’t mindfulness be useful? That’s a good question. I can’t think of any specific times…

  8. Good question!! I often battle with how much time I should be spending with the kids. Just like anyone else I need to do things around the house, wash, fold, iron, cook dinner. Some days fly past and I feel like I haven’t spent any quality time with either of them and I don’t like that at all. I absolutely love those days when we can just hang and be present. Lovely post.

    • Don’t beat yourself up, we’re all in the same boat. I find that when I’m being more mindful doing domestic stuff, that it’s actually easier to be connected to the kids. I’m not in a ‘busy, gotta get stuff done’ mode, and it leaves me open to listen and talk with them. That’s what I do when I’m cooking in the afternoons after school.

  9. Very thought ( and action) provoking, I’ve felt very guilty about not giving my boys more of my attention lately . Thank you for sharing the idea.

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