This past fall has been a whirlwind, the start of a new job, the kickoff of a new Soul Models program, my daughter beginning Kindergarten, and just the general busyness of life. But with all of these changes and gifts of change and growth have resulted in a more mindful approach of using every moment I can to connect with those I love.
I adore the fall, the bright colors of the leaves, the coolness of the air, the smell of wood fires burning, the crunch of fresh picked apples, and the taste of my favorite fall comfort foods. Enjoying all of these things are great ways to savor the moments of every day and be mindful. One of my new favorite times of day has become the 15-20 minutes before the bus arrives to pick up my 5 year old daughter – we have started a practice that has happened very organically but I cannot think of a better way to start my morning.
Our “mindful walks” as she calls it allow us to be present to all that is around us. As we walk down the driveway we quickly try and race her dad to the bus stop so that as he drives by to bring her little sister to daycare we can wave again and yell out “I love you!” After that we put her backpack on the ground, hold hands and begin our “mindful walk”.
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.
One particular mindfulness technique I have learned is the 3-2-1 technique. It’s a wonderful tool to use not only when you are calm and centered but also to center yourself in times of stress and anxiety – if I’m worried about something or overwhelmed the 3-2-1 technique allows me to be completely in the present. We use it as a way to observe what is around us.
(Me) “What are three things you see……(my daughter) I see beautiful leaves with all different colors, I see frost on the grass, I see ducks in the pond……”
“What are three things you hear…..I hear cars driving by, geese honking overhead, and crunchy leaves under my feet”
“What are three things you feel…….I feel cold on my face, your hand holding mine, and my legs as I walk”
We then move on to two things you see, two things you hear, two things you feel and so on. It’s allowed us to connect with one another, truly be present in the moment and observe all that is beautiful and unique around us. I’m always impressed with what L notices, often times its things that are so easily overlooked and she reminds me all the things that are interesting to her and then we can talk about it.
According to the Harvard Health Publication Positive Psychology: Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Personal Strength, and Mindfulness, Mindfulness has been found to be a key element in happiness.
Mindfulness improves well being
- Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
- Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
- By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can:
- help relieve stress
- treat heart disease
- lower blood pressure
- reduce chronic pain
- improve sleep
- alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness improves mental health
In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:
- substance abuse
- eating disorders
- couples’ conflicts
- anxiety disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
We all need moments of mindfulness in our lives and knowing it helps us in these ways is a reminder of why it’s important to practice especially when we are busy. It reminds me how important it is to “stop and smell the roses” with our children and be present with the people we love and the world around us. I find that when our day begins with this centering ritual of mindfulness, we both start our day smiling and clear headed. It takes no more than a few minutes and allows me to incorporate mindfulness into my daily life and this is one way that has really worked for me - the best part is that I can do it with my daughter! These moments can be whatever works for your family – just try it and share with our community what works for you and your family– we would love to hear!