6 December 2022
With all of the holidays and year-end activities, it can feel as though you are being pulled in many directions at once. Despite the flurry of work, shopping, and celebrating, it is important to pull back and practice some mindfulness. Somehow mindfulness seems easier to handle in the summer when you go out to get the mail and see kids riding their bikes and you can somehow stop and savor the moment. In the winter, we feel more isolated and confined. Even outdoors we are bundled up in coats and scarves. Here are some things to consider.
We just finished Thanksgiving where many of us go around the table and voice something we are grateful for. Write those things on a piece of paper or start a document on the computer. Every day add one or two items. The best times can be first thing in the morning or the last thing at night.
There is such a thing as walking meditation. It is generally accomplished walking in a straight line or in a circle. You can deal with it during your lunch break, when you are at the park with the kids, or scheduling a stroll in the neighborhood.
Similarly as you drive, mentally log in the texture of the road, the sound of the tires on gravel. At a stop light focus on the buildings around you and any people that may be there. Check out any foliage and look at the clouds. This means turning off your phone and the radio but it can be worth the few minutes.
Try single tasking. For just one job, close all the browsers and your email and your phone. Concentrate on the one activity necessary to move through the project. This can be as simple as loading the dishwasher. Be aware of your body, how it feels as you sit or stand, your breathing. At the end, you can turn everything back to chaos but relish the moment when you were lasered into your task and how it felt as it was completed.
You will need to offer directions for your kids. Little ones like the wiggle and freeze where they move around crazily and when you shout “freeze,” they stop. Ask them to think about how their body feels when it isn’t moving.
Scavenger hunts are fun. You need to select the environment but it can possibly even be in the car. The children need to find items that they can associate with the senses like listening to the traffic or a siren, something unusual that catches attention, smell good or bad, name something you like to touch like stroking a pet.
Slowing breathing can be a challenge. However if you talk about dragon breathing, it can become a game. Take in a deep breath to fill up their belly and then have them slowly breath out “the fire”. Variations can include holding a cloth or piece of paper to see it wave or just blowing bubbles.
The teenage years are the best and worst. The best because you see them maturing into the adults they will become and the worst when they bring out their best two-year-old selves and want to do everthing their way and everyone else is wrong.
Try talking about the music the listen to. This will only work if you are sincere in your interest. Ask them why they like it. Of course, the response will either be “I don’t know” or “you wouldn’t understand”. Ask some detailed questions about whether it is the beat, the background sounds, the tone of the voice, the words. If they can stop and think about it, they will be unknowingly practicing mindfulness. Find other interests that you can do the same with.
This can include working on puzzles including jigsaw or sodoku, spot the differences or word finds.
There are a number of apps available that can help people in all age ranges. See which fits best.