I sit on my porch, by an open window, on a beautiful sunny day. I feel the breeze on my arms as it slowly floats through the screen and passes by me. I listen to the sweet sound of the birds, their varying songs, tweets and whistles. I take a deep breath in and I savor this quiet moment alone. I think about how grateful I am to have my health, my home, my family. I sip on my green smoothie and I savor the taste of the cold pressed juices of fresh vegetables, this too reminds me to be grateful for the access to these fresh ingredients and I am grateful for all the ways that the nutrients will support me. I close my eyes and take another deep breath in. This quiet moment will soon be over. As I slowly exhale I remind myself how important it is to live in this moment, to not forget this moment and to carry it with me.
After almost 9 years of being home with my kids, this moment is rare and I have learned well to savor it. It’s not always easy to capture the moment and see it for what it is but I have learned that it is essential for my mental wellness to do this at least once a day. This has taken time and practice for me, to be intentional and mindful.
Our lives have never been more noisy or distracting as they are now. There are a million different tasks, people, or apps vying for our attention, the idea of mindfulness or stillness can seem almost laughable. But the truth, as I have come to understand it, is that if we don’t prioritize moments of stillness or opportunities for mindfulness now, then years from now what could have and should have been savored will be rendered meaningless, or worse yet, forgotten.
Mindfulness has been something I have been working to prioritize for years now, but it wasn’t until very recently that I came to understand how deeply valuable and necessary it is. Having three small children and being home with them full time has gifted me with incredible and precious memories with my children, for which I am eternally grateful for. However, if I’m being honest, it has also presented me with layers of stress I don’t always recognize I’m accumulating, and reactions to that stress that I’m not particularly proud of. But it is in those moments, when I catch myself reacting to my kids unfairly, or losing my patience and just hearing the tone in my voice that literally sounds like someone I don’t even recognize – it is in those moments that I have been able to recognize my need for mindfulness. In time I have come to realize that my reaction to the stressful moments is what causes me to act as someone entirely different than who I know I am at my core, and it certainly is not who I would like my children to remember. After years of dabbling in mindfulness, reading plenty of books and research that have clearly spelled out for me the importance of mindfulness, I finally have taken the opportunity to fully embrace it and try it on for size.
Like all personal growth endeavors, this is a work in progress – I am a work in progress. But I can say that once this notion fully hit for me and I started to take steps to create these quiet and mindful moments (like the one I described above), I began to see from a birds eye view that my stress is not anyone else’s fault, nor is it the stress itself that is the problem. Rather, it is my reaction to stress that is the problem. And my reaction will always be short tempered, irritated and harsh if I am coming from an empty place, if I am attempting to pour from an empty cup. And that is why these mindful moments are so critical. Because they offer me the opportunity to pour back into myself. They give me a moment to breathe restoration and new energy into myself so that when the stress hits, I can respond from a restored space instead of an exhausted, depleted and empty space.
Carving out this time for ourselves is not necessarily easy but the benefits far outweigh the hassle of making time for it. If we take an honest look at our stressors, and then go further to see how our reaction to the stress is more problematic than the stress itself, we can then better understand the value in creating a practice of counteracting the stress before it ever arises. Pouring into yourself will allow you to show up more easily in your truth and put your best self forward, as opposed to showing up with a reactive and negative energy. Prioritizing mindful moments will allow you to create more ease in your relationships and ultimately to create and maintain more inner peace!