If you are interested in building your mindfulness practice, it helps to have a guide or mentor who can show you the way. Someone who demonstrates what mindfulness looks like in a real and practical way. Chances are you have access to a great mindfulness guru that you aren’t even thinking about.
Do you see any kids?
If yes, then you are off to a good start in having someone show you how to bring more mindfulness into your day.
Of course you should look for adult mentors who can teach you about mindfulness. There are lots of ways to do that by watching videos and reading books or by taking classes and attending retreats. It’s important to have someone with lots of experience who can help you in developing your mindfulness practice. But sometimes we have guides that show up right in front of our faces.
Here are 5 ways that children are mindfulness masters:
By playing, children learn all kinds of skills from building relationships to problem solving. All good stuff but there is another important element in play. In its purest sense play is unstructured. There don’t have to be rules – it’s just play for the sake of playing. So kids do things like colouring without worrying about staying in the lines or they spontaneously dance to music or they let the moment guide their imagination. Oh yes, and play is fun. It’s lighthearted and not task driven.
When was the last time you played just for the fun of it?
Children focus on one thing at a time.
You don’t see kids multi-tasking. Well not unless while they are playing they are mimicking adults. Kids pay attention to what they are doing without trying to juggle three other activities at the same time. They are not distracted by what they might do later in the day; they root themselves in the present and shift their attention when they change activities.
When was the last time you gave your full and undivided attention to the task at hand?
Children have beginner’s mind.
Anyone who has been around a 3 year old knows that the most popular question is “Why?” Although you might find it tiring after being asked why for the umpteenth time, kids are asking why because they are looking to understand their world. They bring a natural curiosity to whatever is happening, even the most mundane things. That sense of wonder allows children to see things that adults often miss, or to be fascinated or delighted by things that we take for granted.
When was the last time you looked beyond what you think you know in order to see what you might be missing?
Kids don’t just rely on hearing and sight. They touch. They taste. They smell. Children learn through sensory experiences – wiggling their toes in the sand or inhaling deeply when they smell a flower. Their senses become a gateway to a world of exploration. When they see, they are really looking and they hear because they are really listening.
When was the last time you indulged your senses, savoring the sensory experience?
Mindfulness is not so much about what activity you are engaged in, but the attention you bring to it. So let children show you the way. Notice not only what they are doing, but also how they are doing it. Be a kid again….and again.
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What have kids taught you about mindfulness?