I love love LOVE Sarah Napthali's book, "Buddhism for Mothers". Please don't tune out if you are a Christian, or any other faith, I don't actually see this book as religious instruction. It just gives me some practical tools for raising children in a peaceful and loving environment.
The first time I read it, I got the most out of the chapter on mindfulness. I'd heard the term, "be mindful" before but never really grasped what it is all about.
We live such hectic, busy lives, especially as mothers, that we are often multitasking by doing one thing and thinking about another. We think about things that happened in the past. We plan things for the future. We are very rarely mentally IN the present.
This REALLY resonated with me. I remembered a few days earlier when I was making something for a Christmas present, and was using scissors to poke holes in cardboard. I looked down to see red stuff all over my project, and was confused as to what it was. I kept going. Then I realised it was blood. Only then did I pay attention to the fact that my thumb had been stinging for ages, the scissors had cut it open! If I had my mind on the job instead of day dreaming, I would have realised instantly and would have only had 1 slice in my finger instead of 10!
And geez, I am totally one of those people who run into walls (in my own house, you know, the ones that have been in the same place for YEARS) because I'm daydreaming. I am no stranger to looking at a large bruise and not having the foggiest idea of how I got it!
So I knew this is something I should work on. Its not just about keeping myself from injury, either. Its about giving Butterfly a fully present Mummy, who can imagine and laugh and play with her, instead of mindlessly pushing along a car, sitting with her but not paying attention to the game. Sometimes I drift off and realise she's been asking me the same question 5 times and I still haven't answered. Or I'm looking right at her but only realise she is about to insert a screw into the cats nose at the very last second!
Its been slow going. I have to work at it every day. Sometimes I feel myself drifiting off, and pull myself back into the present. It is like someone switches a light on! And I don't mean metaphorically, I mean the room totally gets brighter. It makes me appreciate just how far away my thoughts can get sometimes.
What I have also noticed, that if I have my mind on something aggravating, I often overreact to things Butterfly does. For example, if I dwell on something someone said that was hurtful in the past, and Butterfly sticks her finger up my nose, I crack it big time and stop the feed and she gets very confused and upset. Which is totally unfair to her.
I bought letters from a craft shop, that spelt MINDFUL. I painted them red to stick to my wall as a reminder. Butterfly got to them with some blue paint, which bugged me at first, but then I let go and realised this is just as good a reminder as any to be a relaxed and mindful Mumma :)
How many times do we hear "before you know it they will be teenagers!". And they will. Mindfulness to me, is about enjoying this time while Butterfly is so young and adorable and inquisitive. If I don't pay attention, I will have missed the whole thing!
I highly recommend reading "Buddhism for Mothers", but you can try to be more mindful by keeping your thoughts on your child when you are with them, so they feel valued and you will enjoy them more! Practice mindfulness in your daily tasks. If you are walking, focus on your steps. If you are folding washing, think to yourself "I am folding washing" and focus on the task at hand. Which, lets face it, is friggin boring, but its a form of meditation.
I am blogging... I am blogging... LOL!