April 25, 2015

The Gift of Today: Being Present

I read a blog post the other day from a mom who said she'd try to "be present" with his child each day for fifteen minutes. I like this and think it is valuable to do daily. Now, the "15 minutes" makes sense to me as a good amount of time to practice each day, but the amount of time doesn't have to be that. It is the idea of "a little each day" that seems a great place to start.

The Power of 15 (minutes).

So let's talk about this....
What does it mean to be present? 

I think of when I talk to my four year old and tell him to listen to me while I'm talking to him. I say to  listen with your whole self: eyes looking, ears open, mouth closed, body still, brain focused. So...being present to me, is real, true listening--observation and attention with all your senses and internal workings of heart and mind.

How are we doing as adults?
Are we teaching our kids to listen well, when we haven't learned to do the same?
Are we being present with them?

Granted...we have tons of things vying for our time and attention. But have we tried to prioritize our life, errands, busy-ness and tasks so we can place focus on what matters most? I know I'm constantly guilty of this. And this is why I am writing this post! Hopefully it will clarify for me more ways to focus on my kids. Because this is life! Learning and relearn to focus and simplify and do what matters most. And I can't do it alone. I need help. Do you?

I like this idea of fifteen minutes a day, but I would like to extend that thought into other areas of our life...specifically with relationships and priorities.

What are our priorities?
Or should I say "who" are our priorities? 

Knowing this can help us understand where we need to be present most.
Here's what came to mind this morning as I contemplated this concept of "fifteen minutes."

15 minutes with...

  • God I like to wake up before my kids wake up. This is the ideal. It doesn't always happen. But, when it does....wow! My day goes so much better. My brain actually can do math. My temper doesn't flare at kids not obeying before three strikes..... Not every season for me is this possible (like when I have a baby and am tired all the time, just trying to keep up. Gosh...that seems to be a whole year. hehe). But, when I have that desire and joy, and don't approach it guiltily as a dread-laden task, then my day is infused with purpose and direction. I even bought a pretty study journal that I wrote various things I wanted to study about in the front. When I'm feeling go-getter, I pick a topic i want to study and delve into the scriptures (but I haven't felt that way wince I had my baby a few months ago, so I currently am just going through a cheap copy of the BOM with colors for a specific theme I'm trying to discover.) Sometimes I'll just watch a Mormon Message or read/watch a General Conference Talk. I bought a beautiful wooden box carved with the SLC temple on it and I keep the current cheap copy in it as a reminder to take time each day.
  • Self  I love doing "awareness yoga" first thing in the morning when I wake up (either before or after my scripture reading). This is a fancy made up name for laying down and doing whatever stretches and thinking I want. Talk about stress-free and low-expectations. Who wouldn't want that kind of workout? I do this so I can wake up, become aware of all the little muscles and feelings I have inside myself, and to start warming up my brain to have thoughts about my day and the direction I may want to take. All of this is part of it, but I don't have an outline for things I have to think about or not. I just let stuff start to flow in as I become aware of body, mind and spirit. There are two other times I take with myself too (which, come to think of it may make me seem a little selfish, with this getting three times the 15 minutes. hehe): During quiet time my kids take their nap or do reading (12-2) and I get "me time" to do something fun (which generally is something nerdy and involves reading, writing or researching). At night I like to journal a few thoughts to explore my feelings and unwind them. I don't always do this, but keep my journal by my bed in case I can (and to give my poor husband a break from my incessant chatter exploding from all the stuff going on through my brain!)
  • Spouse Speaking of hubby. We like to get the kids for bed, do our own things, and then connect at 9pm as we start to unwind and get ready for bed. Monday's this is folding landry I threw on the bed. Hehe. Sunday might be our planning session to go over our week so we are on the same page. Friday or Saturday this would be a date or movie or something. In winter it may be a "tea time" to just have an infusion and bite and chat (like Captain Picard on Star Trek). Other times it may be being together, but me writing in my journal and him reading something, or reading a book together. Or a little footrub, etc. The possibilities are endless, but the time frame is a constant. (Again, this is all ideal. Life happens and kids are NOT always angels and sometimes are still talking to themselves and banging on walls with their feet because they are still hungry two hours later, when they should be asleep already! ugh. But...setting it up is the first battle and then dealing with occasional disturbances is the second. One battle at a time, I say.)
  • Child This is the most easy sometimes. We are surrounded by our kids. We have to spend time with them (even more so when homeschooling). We have daily quiet time (12-2, unless life happens at times, which is fine if it's 25%, rather than 99%). I use that time to take one-on-one time to read with Ethan from 12-12:30. This calms him down and gives me that "one" time. My husband gets it in at night for storytime, where he can actually talk to Ethan about his day too. During that time I get my one-on one time in with my 2 year old as I read to her then. And my baby gets it in while I nurse...as I have learned to stop using my ipad during that time and be aware of her more fully.
  • Family Taking time to be all together as a family is great too. This is dinner time for us. Or on weekends having a longer time: a family date or outing, or a Sunday night "Classical Hour" to read a classic together, or Monday Family Home Evening to learn and play together around a religious theme.
  • Nature I sometimes can kill two birds with one stone (though that metaphor might not be the most approriate for this bullet point. Oh, pun intended). For example, if I go out in nature and commune with God, or take that time to journal or draw, for myself. Regardless, I've found that, like good ole Jason Mraz sings...getting back to Earth and putting our hands in the dirt and feet on the ground is very "grounding." Did you know that there have been studies done about the literalness of being barefoot? If you were to go for a run and then come back and take a scan of your knee, there would be red and orange thermal imaging colors around the knee. But, if you were to then go barefoot for 15 minutes after that, the thermal colors would shift from warm to cool colors, showing a decrease in the physical tension and temperature. Wow. Serious. IT's also good if you feel affected by EMF stuff (like telephone wires and electricity from cell phones and such...which really can interfere with our own body's energy). Ok, I'll stop here. But go for a walk or something. :) 

The end. For now.

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