Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Respecting the Moment

I'm always talking about savoring the moment, striving for mindfulness. When Maya was first born, I read a great book called Everyday Blessings: the inner work of mindful parenting, and at the time, it seemed so logical: be fully present, fully attentive to the moment before you.

If it's a tantrum, apply you full attention not to the dirty looks of those around you or the event you're trying to reach on time, but to the needs and triggers of you child. If you're feeding them dinner, than slicing the veggie sticks and listening to a recap of tag in the gym is you whole world at that moment.

It sounded great almost four years ago, when I read this book and rocked a nursing baby. Yet, it conflicts with every instinct to multi-task.

I'm now reading Breath by Breath, a beginners guide to insight mediation. I'm trying to start a daily practice that will help me be mindful throughout the day. This book has brought my attention to the fact that multi-tasking has robbed me of the very moments I want to savor.

I'm completely missing the present because my mind is whirring through the to-do list, wondering what to check off next, or whittling away at some nagging but meaningless problem.

So, lately, I'm trying to be more present. These pictures are from last week, when Maya was off at preschool and instead of setting Elle up with toys while I fold laundry, we painted.

She painted. I painted. That's all.

No worrying, no to do list, no NPR keeping me up to date on the more important outside world.

No, we just painted, and it was spectacular.

Elliot couldn't believe I was actually letting her paint like her big sister. She couldn't get enough of the process: put paint on the brush, brush on the paper, finger in the paint, and then "mess, mess" she had to run to the kitchen to get her hands washed. Then back to the easel to start over.

Clearly, I wasn't mindful the whole time, as I thought enough about the future to photograph it. But essentially, my thoughts were present. The moment didn't need to be savored, because it was fully lived.

I need to do that more often.

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