Sitting this morning, I remembered how important the very start of a mindful practice is. Sometimes I sort of slip into my practice by trying to check out of regular life. But when I'm having an intentional practice, I start by being really aware of my body. I feel myself sitting. I feel the air. I listen a bit to sounds outside. Instead of trying to get somewhere, I show up HERE. After a bit, I connect with my breath.
I know there's nowhere to get, nothing to be. I just sit here. Sometimes I'm cranky and out of sorts. Sometimes I'm relaxed and smiling. Sometimes I'm bored and uncomfortable. Being present with any of those states is the real point. It often leads to a more relaxed, open, pleasant experience, but not always.
This, for me, is fiercely analogous to being a mom.
Sometimes I sort of slip into interactions with my kids, trying to avoid challenging or unpleasant situations (emotions, responsibilities, tasks, worries, etc.). But when I'm having an intentional interaction, I start by being really aware of myself and my child. I feel myself sitting. I pay attention to how I feel. I attune to them and listen deeply to what they are really saying to me, verbally and non-verbally. Instead of trying to get somewhere, I show up HERE. After a bit, I can really sense our connection, how I am responding to them and how they are responding to me.
I know that I don't need to change myself or them. One or both of us may be cranky, relaxed, or bored. We may disagree. They may need my emotional support. Whatever is happening, I know that I don't need to change myself or them. I practice staying true to myself and open to them exactly as they are.
My mindfulness practice supports my parenting practice. Every day.
As a mom (to 2 teenage sons), wife, and person in the world, I have been on a long imperfect journey. I have made many mistakes, but with mindfulness, emotional reflection, and lots of support I have learned enormously from those mistakes.