I have heard so many wonderful benefits of meditation, but I find it hard to sit still for even ten or fifteen minutes. My mind races with hundreds of thoughts and ideas. But I believe in mindfulness, which is about being present, paying attention to the people you’re communicating with, and being aware of what you are doing.
It’s also important to feel grateful. When you wake up, be mindful of your heartbeat and your breathing. Be thankful that your heart is working busily during the night while you have a rest. When you wash your face, be mindful of the availability of running water, the coolness when you splash your face. Be thankful that you have plenty of clean water. If you go for a walk, be mindful of your steps, your foot movements; also, pay attention to your surroundings, the leaves and the blossoms, and how blue and clear the sky is.
I listened to one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s talks about mindfulness, and people asked him, ‘How do you find gratitude and joy when you brush your teeth or go to the bathroom?’ He replied, ‘I’m very grateful because I’m sixty years old and still have a full set of teeth to brush. We take for granted having the toilet available. But think about the time when we didn’t have it, and how hard it was for the bathroom trip.’
We’re experiencing tremendous disconnections and distractions today. We’re much better at multitasking than being focused on one person or one conversation. We can sit there with our children, but at the same time we’re checking our emails or thinking about our own projects. Our children suffer, our relationships suffer, and we suffer too from losing the close bond we once shared.
When I had my second child, the older child suffered a lot. One reason was a lack of sleep, and another reason was because of the constant care the baby needed. I lost focus easily when communicating with our older daughter, and I can imagine how hard it must be to focus on one child when you have three or four other children. Being present and practising mindfulness does require training and reinforcement. When you become mindful of what you’re doing each day, you’ll find you are better able to set your priorities and focus on your children. You will have the patience to communicate with them.