Today, right now, I am here. You are here. Let's take a moment.
We can stop what we are doing and bring attention to what's actually happening.
Listening, We can notice sounds. Right now in my house it's loud. I hear people, machinery, doors, and traffic. Even with all of those sounds, the very act of listening sort of calms me.
Feeling, we sense our bodies. Sitting, feeling my bottom on the chair, I notice that my belly is surprisingly tight. I feel the heaviness in my eyes. I realize that my muscles are tighter than they need to be, and the muscles relax just a bit.
We can pull our attention inside. I start to feel my breath coming and going. Rather than make it slow down, I just follow it and notice how it is. Even though there are sounds around me and other sensations, for now I just focus on my breath. And when I realize that I'm distracted, I feel the way the breath moves my belly. It feels kind of pleasant just to breath and know that I'm breathing.
This is what I read on my Zen calendar this morning. What is today going to teach me? And what will it teach you? If we can pay attention and greet each moment as the guru.
Sending good wishes for your learning! Please share your lessons.
It's such a mess in my house. Not an ordinary mess, but a really special kind of major project mess. And every single day, I get to choose--what's important right now?
When my boys were little I got so overwhelmed by the mess and the feeling of having little control over what happened. I believe it would be different now, that my years of practicing mindfulness have changed me from that person who freaked out about almost every little thing to a person who can let lots of little things roll off her back, from a person who was confused about every single boundary to a person who sets lots of boundaries clearly and lovingly.
But I feel tested. Can I even really handle the confusion, helplessness, and frustration going on in my house right now? Can I bring presence and acceptance to this small and pretty short-term disruption? It's a small test compared to being the mom of little ones!
I remind myself to I ask (again), what is actually important right now? How the house looks or the fact that we're all here together? Where we've already gotten or the path we're on? The fact that we're growing together as a family or the growing pains? I'm sure you can relate in your own way. Are you more focused on the mess or the experience? The product or the process? And I breathe.
When life is crazy, I either get swept up in it or I find a way to ground myself. Whether the chaos is in my house (right now we're a couple of months into replacing floors and nothing is going as smoothly as we expected!), with my kids (who are in the midst of transition), in the world (right?!?), with friends or extended family, or even the weather (writing this in front of a fan), it helps to recognize the chaos and recognize that I'm not the chaos.
To do this, I turn toward my mindfulness practice, spending extra time practicing and bringing some structure into the practice. My practice usually feels less pleasant during rough times, but I remind myself that it helps even when I feel like I spend the entire practice watching busy thoughts.
If you, like me, need some support to stay centered, consider your anchor. In meditation or any part of life, bring attention to that anchor to keep yourself centered rather than caught by external events.
Consider five minutes right now:
I've spent a lot of Mother's Days wanting something outside of myself. In the early years it was usually support so I could sleep or be alone for a while. Sometimes I've wanted to feel appreciated. To get help in the garden. Lots of times I have wanted to be somehow better, to be able to enjoy feeling like a good mom, a good person.
This year, I'm turning inward. Instead of thinking about what I want, I'm thinking about what I am and taking time to love and appreciate myself like I am right now. No matter how kind my family is to me, if I don't love myself those good experiences will bounce off of me.
So this year, I'm starting a new tradition of doing a few special things just for me. And I'm going to notice a few wonderful things about me. I might even make myself a Mother's Day card! And along with loving myself, I will welcome the love that other people send my way, accepting every compliment and gift and offer of help.
Will you join me? Happy Mother's Day! <3
When I get caught up in worry, fear, and overwhelm the most important thing to do is bring myself into the present moment. Instead of planning the big future project that will solve my problem or rewriting the past to prevent it, I need to come directly into my experience.
I think most of us are like this, avoiding current challenges by fleeing into the past and future. It can be so hard to get our feet on the ground and look at the situation as it is right now.
I've tried to get into the habit of asking myself, "What can I do right now?"
Sometimes there's a simple first step.
Sometimes there's really nothing that I can do about what I'm experiencing as a problem.
I usually can't do the thing I wish I could do--magically change the past or jump ahead 50 steps to the better future.
But somehow, there's something that I can do in the present moment. Something that may feel humble and small. And when I do that, there's another something I can do. And another.
Starting even a small project in an old house sometimes uncovers hidden structural issues (see Going Deep), and it's the same in our families. Even something that seems like a straightforward behavioral issue--"Why won't my child fall asleep?" or "Why don't my kids listen to me?"--is probably going to uncover some deeper, underlying issues.
It may uncover our own family and emotional patterns from childhood, patterns that may not even be conscious and may actually conflict with our parenting philosophy. It may uncover a shaky connection between child and parent, confusion about leadership, communication differences, or something completely different.
Resolve a problem at the surface level may seem simple, but it's like my fixing the top layer of my floors without uncovering underlying structural issues, building a new subfloor, leveling the joists, or preparing the surfaces. It might look nice at first, but before long the old problems will re-emerge!
So even though digging into family challenges can be uncomfortable, it gives you the chance to do the deeper work that comes up in every family.
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.