How We All Can Become More Mindful
With the end of the school year on the horizon, you and the entire family are probably ready to settle into new routines and spend more quality time together this summer. If you’re constantly stretched for time — running around, driving to soccer practice, dropping kids off at the pool, going to work, and popping into the grocery store — life can get pretty stressful fairly quickly. It’s tough to do it all … mindfully. In the hustle and bustle of our technology-based society, we sometimes forget to enjoy the carefreeness of our long summer days. So, how do we teach ourselves to become more mindful in our daily lives? By incorporating a few simple practices and living in the moment, you can make mindfulness a family affair.
Taste Your Food
When is the last time you truly thought about what you were eating and chewed slowly enough to enjoy the food? Younger children are especially good at connecting to the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. Food is a whole new world. They are innately more mindful of what’s going in their mouths. As we get older, we tend to pay less attention to this.
The next time you’re all sitting at the table together, ask your child to describe the different tastes and textures of their food. Maybe they are “noticing the varied sensations of, say, a spoonful of hot oatmeal topped with fruit, nuts and cinnamon, or a warm, juicy burger and cold mushy bun — with that burst of sweet, liquidy ketchup,” according to Parents magazine.
When everyone is staying in the moment by simply focusing on food sensations (just like infants and toddlers do), no one is worrying about what they have to do after dinner or what happened at work or school during the day.
Mom and dad have to lead the way when it comes to eating mindfully. According to a FashionBeans article, “eating mindfully, instead of while watching TV, for example, can help you consume less and digest the meal better.”
Extra tip: The next time you’re shopping together at the grocery store or farmer’s market, let your kids pick out a vegetable and fruit they would like to try. It gives them more ownership in what they choose to eat.
Unplug More Often
It seems obvious that mealtime isn’t an appropriate occasion for everyone to be on their devices. But it’s an all-too-common practice for many. It’s kind of like the old days when people used to read the newspaper at breakfast or dinner. It’s acceptable depending on who you ask. The same goes for phone and tablet usage during a meal. Opinions vary.
If you can designate phone usage rules at home, be prepared to enforce it and lead by example. Maybe you don’t allow phones during family meals or until homework is done, or you limit the amount of time they use social media or play games.
Maybe devices aren’t to be used during specific times of the day, such as before bed, on Saturday morning while doing chores, or on family outings, etc. Become familiar with phone regulations at your child’s school as it can have an impact on time spent on phones at home. Every family is going to have different rules and expectations.
One parent, a woodworker from Texas, came up with the idea of a “Be Present” box. He crafted a s
mall, wooden box with specific instructions on how to use it. He carved this on the inside of the box: “1. Insert phone. 2. Close lid.” On the sliding cover of the box, he carved the words: “3. Be present.”
He posted his creation on Facebook, and people went crazy over it. “I woke up the next morning and it had gotten tens of thousands of likes and shares and it has gone completely bananas all over the world,” Mark Love told CNN. People from as far away as Australia, Denmark, and Great Britain rallied behind him.
According to an article from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, nearly two out of three students have been affected by some type of trauma. It could be abuse, a parent going off to war, disease, or a car accident. Educators specializing in trauma are able to help guide students to be successful in the classroom despite traumas. As parents, we also have the responsibility to set our kids up for success when they may be going through hard times. Both educators and parents need to have compassion.
You’ve probably heard the phrase or something similar: “Be Kind. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” It’s easy to divert attention away from ourselves and expect someone else to change when challenges arise, but it’s a difficult way to go through life.
We have to do our own work of looking within first. If we can be kind to ourselves, our spouses, and others, our children will see this positively. “How they see us live is more powerful than anything we say to them about mindfulness,” according to Phd’s Elisha and Stefanie Goldstein, in an article on Mindful.
We all need to make space in our daily lives to slow things down, breathe, meditate if it’s helpful, and give broader perspective to the world around us. It’s tough to do during emotional or stressful times, but it helps us see situations more clearly.
We can teach ourselves, our children, and even the next generation to be more mindful. And we do this by unplugging more often and paying attention to what we are putting in our bodies. We do this as well by being more kind and compassionate to everyone. And those are just a few ways to go about it!
About the Author
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.