Yes, we’ve all heard it before. Have a “no technology day” by turning off all your computers, phones, TVs, and tablets for a full day and just being present! I get it. It’s beautiful, when we can do it. But let’s get real – that’s not our day to day lives! What’s more valuable is learning how to use technology in a more mindful manner. So let’s go a bit deeper, shall we?
I had my first child on New Year’s Eve of 2013, and she is the light of my life. I was 31 years old when we conceived, and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to have children until the day we decided to start trying for one. She has changed my life in so many ways that would have been unimaginable to the childless me.
One day last June my husband and I took her camping, not for the first time, but the first time since she had started pushing up and rolling around. We have a pop-up camper, and I was playing with her on one of the beds. I stood up, and for an instant my attention was stolen by a father across the campground berating his son, who was no older than 7, for trying to help fold up some part of their camping gear in the “wrong” way.
I was appalled by the way this man spoke to his son.
I was horrified by the way he forcefully yanked him away from the item.
I was heartbroken to see that when his son got smacked SO HARD on the back of the head that he didn’t even flinch – this was clearly not the first time.
I was… pulled back to my 6 month old daughter by the most heart-chilling THUD I’ve heard in my life.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I became obsessed with the idea of leaving her a legacy. We bought a baby book and we’ve actually been pretty happy with it. However, I’m also so meticulous that I set reminders to peruse the baby book to see if it needs to be updated. I’ve seen my share of half-completed baby books, including both my own and my husband’s, and I was determined to leave my daughter something meaningful, yet more personal and low-maintenance than a baby book (just in case I ever ditch the whole “meticulously organized” gig. Also note that term applies only to my list of tasks, not my home, closet, or pretty much anything else in my world). Here are a few of the things I’ve done so far:
Before my pregnancy, I had a consistent meditation practice of at least 45 minutes a day. Taking this time each morning helped me stay more present, centered, and calm throughout my day. Despite my best intentions to have the most “mindful” pregnancy possible, I was lucky to get in a short meditation once a week. Stay awake for 10 straight minutes while sitting (okay, let’s be honest, lying) in complete silence? Forget it, especially during my first two trimesters! In my first weeks and months of motherhood, I completely abandoned all I had learned over the past few years about the necessity of consciously experiencing my life just when I needed it most. I was on auto-pilot between breastfeeding 8 times a day, (trying to) maintain a tidy house, spend time with my husband, and resuming my full-time job outside the home. I had almost resigned myself to life as a sleep-deprived zombie when I realized I needed to start with something simple.
It wasn’t going to be possible to return to my daily 45 minute meditations at that point, but could I find 1 minute a day? Or even better, could I begin seeing the experience of having an infant as a way to practice mindfulness rather than a hindrance to it? By challenging myself with these questions I found several new practices that helped return me to the present.