One of most effective ways to touch the present moment is to observe the breath, which is always accessible anywhere, anytime. Conscious breathing draws us into the now and gently coaxes us away from thoughts about the past or future.
The breath links the mind, which usually lives in the past or the future, to the body, which exists in the present. You’re shifting your attention from the thoughts floating in your head to the movement of the breath deep in the body. And when your attention turns inward to the immediate physical experience of occupying the body, you find that sensation of flowing with the breath, moving with the body, and also, paradoxically, of being motionless, quiet, and still, in this moment. You can be the movement and also watch the movement.
Focusing on the breath and gathering awareness of your physical self will also allow you to see your emotions in the form of physical sensations: a fluttery stomach, heavy chest, constricted throat, or dizzy head. Once you notice all of this crazy stuff happening in your body, you can start to get curious about it, watch the sensations, and even enjoy experiencing their intricacies, without assigning thoughts or meaning to them or taking actions based on them.
Practicing present parenting, through meditations like the one you’ll find below and also by reveling in your children, will allow you to…
- … make more mindful parenting decisions, thereby creating higher quality moments with your children:
Do you want to patiently allow your child to work through this particular behavior, or do you want to effectively shut it down now?
How can you best support your child during his/her struggle?
How can you fully enjoy your child, right now, because you know this moment is fleeting?
- … make mindful personal decisions, thereby finding better balance in your life.
Do you want pay real attention to your child right now and be fully absorbed in a shared activity, or do you want to consciously choose – without apology – to do something else (make dinner, relax with a cup of tea, pay the bills, etc.) and instruct them to entertain themselves?
How can you let go of boredom, annoyance, frustration, distraction, nostalgia, guilt, or worry when you’re with your child?
How can you be a happier person?
Here is a 20-minute guided meditation on the breath that I hope you’ll enjoy and begin practicing on your own, even if for just a few breaths at a time.