I’ve got an eclectic understanding and practice of mindful living. I’m pretty sure I don’t have it quite right, but it works for me, so I’m sticking with it. This again goes with the story of my life–I don’t ever get things quite right, but I go with whatever feels right to me.
Recently a new friend asked how I meditate and live mindfully. I was stumped. Um, I know there’s a right answer to this, but I don’t go to sit often due to my schedule and juggling kids and life. So in fear of judgment, I immediately felt like I wasn’t really living mindfully or meditating properly. “Well,” I stammered, “I live mindfully in my breath and in being in the moments, especially the negative or uncomfortable ones. That’s how it’s really made a difference for me.”
Shortly thereafter, a good friend of mine asked how mindfulness meditation has impacted my life. Again, I didn’t know how to answer–I clearly have issues of feeling inadequate around doing this “properly.” (I’m working on it.) But I told her it has allowed me to be more present in my life, in each moment, in the discomfort. It’s allowed me to be calmer, kinder, gentler, accepting, and more loving to myself and others. And it’s allowed me to grow spiritually. It’s allowed me to let go. It’s allowed me opportunities to teach my children values I find important. I told her it’s an additional coping tool for me, it grounds me, it’s allowed me to feel such deep gratitude for so many things in daily life. It’s allowed me to not take moments and people and things for granted. It’s allowed me to truly connect with persons and humanity. It helps me live bravely and vulnerably and authentically. And all of that together has made such a difference in my life. That I am such a different person because of this.
I don’t think I explained it well to her, she’s still a bit confused. You all know I love using my words, but for some reason, explaining how I’ve incorporated mindfulness meditation into my life and being is very hard for me–I feel it more than I can say it.
Case in point: my kids love meditating. My seven-year-old daughter insisted we have a meditation singing bowl at home. And without fail, the second La Chica feels the air change–when tempers start to rise, when anxieties or tension fills the air, even before words are spoken, she runs and grabs the mallet to strike the bowl. When we ignore her because
I’m a good parent we’re too worked up, she starts hammering away at it frantically, screaming “Do you not hear this?? BreatheBreatheBREATHE!” Which just stops us in our tracks and makes us laugh. Which then really pisses her off and she decides to hold her breath just to show us. But she does what feels right when her inner barometer calls to her–she knows when things bubble up and she tries to hold space for us. She uses no words to do this (until we ignore her).
I also recently purchased an activity book and CD for the kids to teach mindfulness techniques to young ones–Sitting Still Like a Frog. One exercise talks about sitting still like a frog–just observing and noticing; breathing and not reacting. Another exercise talks about being a piece of spaghetti through progressive full-body relaxation techniques. Relaxing, calming down. When La Chica is upset, it is hard for her to calm down. She simply refuses to breathe. So now, I bark at her “Frog or spaghetti? Frog or spaghetti?! You choose.” And I’ll be damned if she doesn’t choose one, and starts to breathe and is then able to just be in the moment.
So I venture to say that perhaps in these matters I don’t need to be so articulate. It works for us, whatever it is we’re doing as we cobble together different aspects of living mindfully. I don’t consider my mindfulness meditation practice as living on my cushion so much as it lives in my heart and head. It’s not quite orthodox, it’s certainly not eloquent. But it is. And I’ll breathe to that. Ribbit.