As I reflect on my experience as a mother for almost a decade now (gasp!), I look back on one of my most pivotal parenting moments that set me on the path to greater clarity in my life. This moment I speak of occurred when Eli was around 2 or 3 years old. I decided to take him outside to the next door neighbor's swing set. He quickly entered into a joyful state of play, as all children do, so very naturally.
There he was, right before my eyes, my greatest teacher, a master of play, a master of being in the moment. And there I was. Lost. Lost in my own thoughts, completely disconnected from feeling his joy, completely disconnected from genuinely sharing that moment with him. My physical body was present with my son, but my emotional body was not. Simply because I was preoccupied with my own thoughts.
In that moment, I received the "divine download": Michelle, wake up. THIS IS IT. Bring your attention to this miracle happening in front of you right here right now.
I got the message loud and clear. At the time, it sounded like a very simple command. Well, as I have learned, its not so simple. I am still practicing. Everyday. I have made leaps and bounds compared to where I was that day at the swing set with Eli. I also continue to struggle at times. It's all part of the process and I no longer view myself as a "bad" parent when I lack full presence with my son. Besides, it is impossible to be totally present with anyone 100% of the time anyway. For anyone trying to be, I urge to stop because that is just plain unhealthy.
What I am talking about here is that I have discovered a profound ability to connect wholeheartedly to my child. Unfortunately, it's not something that came incredibly easily to me in the beginning of motherhood. I know I am not alone in this. Sometimes we need a little guidance where we are lacking it. I certainly have. It took me this "divine download", following Eli's lead, many books and my yoga and mindfulness practices to learn how to cultivate mindful awareness, wholehearted connection and presence with him.
Because I chose to listen to my "divine download", I earned the badge of awareness that serves to remind me to notice when I am lost in my own thoughts. This awareness allows me the choice to either stay lost in thought or return to the miracles happening right before my eyes. I honor the progress I have made. I cherish many sweet moments with my son. I truly feel the miracle he is, the giant essence of his being, his spirit, his soul. Just as I did the day he was born. And when I get lost, that is what I continue to return to over and over again.
Now that Eli is a wavering and unpredictable 9, almost 10 year old, I find this practice to be more challenging than ever before. I find myself creating these moments of heartfelt connection with him these days. Before, he naturally and organically created them for us, simply because that is the nature of small children. They are masters of mindfulness. Then one day, like adults, they too become busy in their own minds. Because I can see clearly now and because of my years of practice and learning from Eli, I am up for the challenge. This is it. Right here, right now.
If you would like to bring more mindfulness, presence and heartfelt connection into you and your family's life, follow this link to access 7 Mindfulness Practices for Children, Parents and Families.
BELOW ARE RECOMMENDED BOOKS THAT HAVE BEEN BENEFICIAL FOR ME IN PRACTICING PRESENCE, WHOLEHEARTED CONNECTION AND MINDFUL AWARENESS IN PARENTING AND IN LIFE:
Buddha Never Raised Kids and Jesus Didn't Drive Carpool - Vickie Falcone:
Parenting From the Inside Out - Daniel Siegel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M. Ed. :
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting
- Myla & Jon Kabat - Zinn:
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle