Mindfulness. Mindful human, mindful parenting. How do you find the time for learning about mindfulness when you don’t even have time to shower?
There are plenty of resources out there. Books, apps, courses, websites. Courses have popped up in workplaces, in schools, even (inappropriately, many argue) in the military. Google has developed its own mindfulness and leadership initiative, which you too can participate in for the bargain price of €1200 for two days (yup, that’s not a typo.. sure who can put a price on inner peace?)
You can probably find a mindfulness course locally at a fraction of that price, but most of us are so busy that we don’t have time to stop and read the latest book or enroll in the local mindfulness course. This time stress only gets worse when you become a parent. But there are some really simple practices or tools that you can start using today- in the middle of the chaos. You can read the books later when you have some free time.. like when the kids have moved out.
And if you want to do the Google programme, then report back and let me steal all of its secrets know how it went.
1. Stop and look both ways
Pick one thing you do every day, and pause. The first blast of water from the (elusive) shower. Your morning cup of coffee. The seconds just after you sit into the car to drive to work. That sweet spot in your day just after baby’s gone for the first nap. Waiting for your computer to boot up. Those couple of seconds after you arrive at the creche/childminder’s to pick up your toddler. Doesn’t matter what it is. Make it something brief, and decide that you are going to pay your full attention to that moment.
Maybe imagine you’re filming the scene, in slow motion, in sharp detail. Absorb it all, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feelings. For a few seconds. That’s all. Be aware of the breath for a few rounds.
Nothing more than this. Do it. Anything can wait a few seconds. Then continue with the rest of your day.
2. Register and resist (the phone)
Take a moment in your day when you are tempted to pull out your smartphone and quickly check facebook etc. You know what I’m talking about: going to the loo, waiting for the lift, in a queue in a shop, waiting for the bus/train home from work, while you’re on a really boring conference call.
Register the instinct and resist it. Take the chance to breathe. That’s it, just breathe. For a minimum of 3 full breaths (inhale and exhale). 10 full breaths if you’re up for it. Allow the shoulders to relax with your exhale. Sigh if you feel like it (and you’re somewhere you won’t get any funny looks). Then do whatever you like with your phone.
You can practice this once in the day or even try it every time you find yourself in that mindless scrolling zone. But do it at least once. Today.
3. Get better at greeting
Who is the first person/creature you greet in your day? Your partner. Your kids? Your pet? The friendly barista in your local coffee shop? A work colleague?
Whoever it is, decide to be there for that first moment that you greet them. The first time you see them that day. Look them in the eyes (not too long for the colleague or barista though.. things could get awkward). Pet your cat. Hug your kid. Kiss your partner. Ask them how they are. Listen to the answer. Enjoy the feeling of pure mindful greeting, and then move forward into the rest of your busy day.
Try these three things, and when you get the time, read the books, do a course, download the app. But do these things first anyway. And please share how you get on!