A Pause of Breath and Awareness…It has be simple.

We were raised in systems and live in a culture mostly based on tasks, goals, and judgements. How is it humanly possible to shift habits formed by these systems to be present with moments of self-care and the pauses of mindful breath and space that we know we must do for ourselves and for our children? How do we possibly find a way to include in our lives a conscious moment when house, kids, work, relationships, activities, and just managing the day, let alone our aspirations, are more than all-consuming? 
We know that a regular practice of some kind of mindfulness or meditation or being with Source/ God/Nature/Life is important. We know that we model for our children. Yet, it can be a struggle to do that modeling. We want our kids to be able to take calm breaks and make wise choices. We want them to learn skills to help them cope with their big feelings. We know that mindful awareness has a lot to do this. And, another day has gone by and we wonder if they’ll ever get it, or, if we will ever get it.
It has to be simple…really simple. It has to be easy…really easy.    

I’m inspired by a discussion of a group of mothers of still young children. We asked the question, “How do you include a mindfulness practice in your day?”  The women first shared about their extraordinarily busy lives and the real-life struggles and difficulties in including any possibility of any form of mindful practice in their days. We were at an educators’ retreat sponsored by Mindful Education Santa Fe. A beautiful conversation of questions, challenges, small successes, ideas, inspiration and hope unfolded. Honesty and richness flowed from the conversation –

  • We are all learning how to do this. Most of our systems and work places are primarily task-based. We are expected to do more and more. The demands are so clear and overwhelming. And, we choose to remember that we are learning how to take a stand for a brief break and self-care. We are learning how to listen to and express needs in an environment that often may not encourage this. We must be kind to ourselves and honor the tiniest of steps because we are learning.
  • We need support. We need each other. We need these discussions that are based on listening and acceptance. We need to bounce our failures, challenges and successes off each other. Surveys show that support is a prime factor in incorporating the transformations of mindful awareness in work places and families.
  • The word “priority” is key. It helps to use “priority” as a “mantra” or slogan throughout the day. For example, three breaths and a five-minute break are priorities.
  • Neurologically a very small time done every day is better than a longer time done weekly. If it’s not possible to imagine a 10 minute time for settling in, a brain break, or self-compassionate care, then start small with 30 seconds or 1 minute. It will naturally grow to 2 minutes or 5 minutes.  A Google study found that those who took a ten minute brain break (mindful awareness) had a 10% increase in productivity.
  • It helps to have a designated accepted routine, and/ or place for brain breaks.Then the boundaries are clear. We can create workplaces where there is a designated system or place for brief uninterrupted breaks. We can make boundaries around when we look at and answer emails.
  • It is possible to create work places that value a quiet moment at the beginning of meetings. We can also do this at family meetings. Whether a five minute brain break, or a moment of peace or breathing together, we prepare ourselves for listening and making decisions.
  • We can slow things down with breath even during the business of life. Breath helps us hold a deeper “container” of connection with ourselves and others. It helps us gather the presence needed for ourselves, our clients or students, and the interpersonal life of the work place.
I hear the words of another teacher present at the retreat,….”In order to live my day rather than get through my day, it has to come from the inside out, from my heart, not my head. I have to keep moving to my heart, no matter what.” It’s another mindful choice.
I’m excited by these mothers and teachers, and the potential for brief discussions that respect each person’s struggles, experiences and ideas. We need each other for these conversations and to encourage and inspire our dreams. We need to appreciate and encourage each other, listen to the rawness, and believe both in each other’s wisdom and our collaborative wisdom and power to make changes. 

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