Breathe deeply. Live in the moment. Be present. Forget the past, don't fret about the future!
Enjoy life as it unfolds.
Sounds like it should be simple doesn't it? But what does presence really mean, especially to a busy parent? It may have been easier to practice presence when you had luscious minutes (or hours) to sit in lotus chanting "OHM." But now, with the wonders and beauty of parenting, those routines may be distant memories. Do you yearn for five minutes to connect with your inner self? It's ok to admit it - there is no judgment here! Admitting it doesn't take anything away from the pleasure you experience as a parent, it is just a chance to honor the part of you that is YOU, not the YOU that is mommy/daddy; the YOU that is the wonderful, amazing, divine being who feels fulfillment when you connect with your spirituality.
But, let's be realistic, how does a busy parent find that inner calm for even a moment, much less long enough to explore the meaning of life? And if I can't, as that busy parent, find my own inner peace, how am I going to show my child how to live in the moment? I have experienced this frustration many times, have you?
In spirituality we often speak of awareness in an abstract sense: Awareness of your BE-ing-ness... Awareness of your purpose... Awareness of who you are at your soul's level. However when you become overwhelmed and busy these might feel like very BIG ideas to aspire to. So it might help to begin by focusing awareness on your surroundings, the more practical manifestations of life. Then as you move into a clearer awareness/presence with your physical surroundings, you can actually lead yourself to the more abstract type of awareness.
Many of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be great at everything. Even if we don't admit it, some of us even judge ourselves on our level of spirituality; we want to be great at it. We want to be great spouses/partners, we want to be great at our jobs, and, mostly, we want to be GREAT parents. Sometimes in the striving for this illusion of greatness we miss out on life's precious moments.
What do I mean by "striving for this illusion of greatness?" I mean it is an illusion that you can be anything but "great" because you are a divine being. If you are already, by nature, "divine" then there is nothing for which to strive – there is only embracing who you are. When you relieve yourself of the pressure to succeed you open yourself to just BE who you are in the moment. Your child will learn how to live in the moment by your example.
It might help to take a step back and cut yourself some slack. The truth is you probably don't have time to meditate as long as you used to. You have filled your time with something equally as important and beneficial to you now, or else you probably wouldn't have chosen parenthood – your CHILD(ren). This is a natural change that accompanies the fact that you now are raising a little one. So the first step to living in the moment, is to…well…begin living in the moment by accepting that centering yourself may look different today than it did a couple of years ago. And tell yourself that this is okay! No it is more than okay, it is a perfect manifestation of this phase of your life. (And also give yourself permission to ask for moments of alone time by asking a close friend or relative to care for your child for a few short minutes every once in a while!)
he next step is to find new ways to connect, nurture your spirit and be aware in the moment within the context of this new phase of your life. Could this mean taking a walk in nature with your child? Does this mean looking around you and SEEING colors, shapes and textures clearly? Or listening to the falling rain and truly HEARING it patter as it dances off your window pane? Does it mean running your hand over your baby's soft, warm blanket and FEELING each bump and fluff of fuzz as it passes by your skin? Or does it mean allowing yourself to drink in every aspect of your child's face, his smell, or the sound of her voice? Think about the physical presence that embracing those moments will provoke within you. To take these moments from the physical to the spiritual, I think all you have to do is feel the moment fully and then express gratitude for that moment.
Another opportunity to bring your awareness to now that you may experience as a parent is in communicating with your child. Sometimes, again, because we have many things on our minds, we allow our minds to wander, going on autopilot as we care for our children. We may be bathing our child carefully, yet all the while be constructing a grocery list. We might only half listen as our three to four year old tells us a story. And a great many of us have absently responded yes to a request from a teenager, only to have our awareness dawn on what they really asked as the yes has escaped our mouths! So another practical way to bring your awareness to now might be to actively engage in the activity or conversation at hand. Not only will this ensure that you will not put a diaper/nappie on backwards or mistakenly give your child permission to go sky diving; it will also help your child to feel heard, accepted and treasured. It will illustrate for your child, by example, what it means to live in the now, to be present and how to truly listen to themselves and others.
Isn’t that really all awareness means: experiencing the moment you are in without thoughts wandering to future moments, pastmemories, expectations or grievances? Whatever way you choose to connect with your inner BE-ing-ness will be perfect. Whatever amount of time you can find to devote to it will be enough. However you choose to bring your awareness to now will serve you as you desire. You can only succeed because you are the perfect manifestation of you right now!
Originally printed in Nurture: Australia’s Natural Parenting Magazine, (2013). All Rights Reserved.