Last week I wrote a post for Kveller.com about how much I didn’t want my daughters to take ballet. Even though I didn’t use the word “mindfulness,” the post was essentially about mindful (and mindless!) parenting. My initial reaction to the ballet issue was based almost entirely on my angst about my own terrible experience with ballet in my childhood and my worries about the future and what ballet might mean for my daughters.
I was totally unable to see what was right before me: two little girls who love dancing and a dance school that is fun, supportive, and kind to them.
The ideas of mindful parenting and mindfulness can get all tangled up in more specific words and theories about parenting and meditation and how should we respond to tantrums and whether or not we should use our smartphones around the kids. While those are all valid questions, when it comes down to it, mindful parenting is just about paying attention to what is in front of us.
And yet it’s so much. And it’s not easy. We’re up against our basic human nature and minds that are constantly distracted, we’re tempted by technology and to-do lists, and on top of it all, parenting can be boring, annoying and generally unpleasant. The last thing we want to do is immerse ourselves in the moment.
The good news is that we’re not alone on this journey, many people are thinking about how to pay attention and truly connect with others in a meaningful way. They’re not always using the word “mindfulness” (which I think is great – we all need to find the language that resonates with us), but they’re all pointing towards the same goal: learning to slow down and be fully present. The writer Jonathan Safran Foer wrote about this in a piece for the New York Times. Adrianna Huffington has started a conversation about The Third Metric, which explores new definitions of success, including a lot of talk about mindfulness, meditation, and multi-tasking. Psychology Today just ran a piece titled Conscious Parenting and Liz Gumbinner, author of the popular Mom 101 blog recently published a piece called There is Only Now. Finally, PsychCentral blogger Elisha Goldstein wrote about the need to parent with presence.
I enjoy reading about the different ways in which folks are working to integrate the concepts behind mindfulness into their daily lives, regardless of the words they use. At the end of the day, though, I like to come back to this quote, which I first read on the blog Left Brain Buddha:
Attention is the most basic form of love. -John Tarrant