Last night TJ and I had dinner with Eric and Paula, a couple that I was meeting for the first time, and in the course of our conversation I mentioned that I’d been teaching mindfulness classes at the kids’ school. This started us down the Mindfulness discussion highway, and I realized that though I LOVE talking Mindfulness, I really don’t have my elevator pitch down yet. Creating one, or even talking about what I’m doing is really tough for me because sometimes I feel like a fraud. Though I’ve taken a few courses, sit daily, listen to many a Mindfulness podcast, started attending group sits and devour books written by the gurus, I still yell at my kids, get overwhelmed and experience bouts of forgetfulness. All this stuff still happens, so I sometimes hesitate to promote what I’m doing. But the truth is my Mindfulness practice is changing the way I relate to all these daily life experiences.
When Eric asked me specifically how Mindfulness has affected my life, I said what came to mind first, remembering a classic shit’s gone awry, “I hate you,” slam-a-brother’s-fingers-in-the-door-type morning we’d had few days earlier. I told him that for one, I’m finding just a little bit of space in overwhelming situations (most of which deal with parenting) and secondly, I’m becoming more aware of my negative self-talk and IT IS CHANGING!
On that particular morning, I noticed cushions of space around my reactions to the kids’ screeching, ranting and shoving, enough space that I can almost call them responses. I was aware of what I was doing and saying, and I was aware of my preceding thoughts. I was also aware of the fact that I kept having choices to make. Each little action and spoken phrase was separate. Time seemed to slow, repeatedly pausing and separating enough to let me make decisions. I also let myself physically leave and return to the situation a few times, testing it out like a yogi pulsing in and out of oh-so-intense-for-the-hamstrings ardha hanumanasa. Not once did I think that I’d raised total psychopaths or that I was a worthless mother. I didn’t call myself a child-abuser for my actions or for screaming at my kids. I didn’t consider the future therapy they’d be needing. The whole thing came and went without my making it too much worse. We even ended up having a magical moment on the walk to school, playing in the blossoms falling down on us like snow. It was crazy. The episode didn’t darken the whole day, but rather it came and went like a breath, or like any emotion does if you don’t cling to it or try to shove it away. I savored the feeling of “I’m starting to get it”.
This morning’s event is another example of subtle change caused by Mindfulness, though at first glance it appears the epitome of mindlessness. I drove to my kid’s soccer game with all necessary supplies in hand, minus my kid. Thank God TJ called and stopped me in my tracks. What in the world? How in the heck had I done that? Of course, I knew very well how I’d done that: we had five people in the house going in three different directions, two of which required lots of sports equipment. We had an allergy attack to attend to, decisions to make about how the day would go, preadolescent moodiness to contend with as well as a six year old tantrum. There was a lot going on. The climax to the story: When I realized my mistake, I belly laughed. I could see the humor and felt no shame in my mindlessness. I gave my self zero shit for doing it. This is big.
This is what mindfulness is doing for me.