When I first learned about mindfulness, I imagined myself with a shaved head, handing out flowers in an airport. Seeing as how I have a serious aversion to drum circles and incense, I immediately wrote the whole thing off.
Boy, was I wrong.
So, before I jump into the details of mindful parenting, it seems important to clarify just precisely what mindfulness is, what it isn’t, and why it’s important. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m still learning about all of this myself, so please feel free to share your thoughts or questions.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leader in the contemporary mindfulness movement, mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” There are a number of different aspects to this definition worth exploring briefly. (I highly recommend Kabat-Zinn’s book, Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life for those interested in additional reading.) Rather than just acknowledging what you are doing (whether that’s eating dinner, playing with the kids, or folding the laundry) and then letting your mind wander, mindfulness is about consciously choosing to focus your attention to whatever you are doing, while you are doing it. Your thoughts will drift, you will inevitably find yourself ruminating about something that happened earlier in the day or worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. The point of mindfulness practice is to notice when your thoughts wander, be ok with that, and then come back to the children or the dishes or whatever you happen to be doing.