February 18, 2019

Being Mindful isn’t a “New Age” Thing.

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There was a moment when I could feel my body tense.

My heart rate was speeding up, and it quickly turned into something like panic as I remembered that I had to go on a business trip that required flying in two weeks.

Would I be able to get my license renewed in time? Such a small thing, but it could be a real problem. How could I let this happen?

At my house, I am the one who goes through all of the mail, pays the bills, renews the things that require it, and schedules the appointments that are needed. I missed this one piece of mail, this one thing that needed to be renewed: my license.

Initially, I thought that I must not have gotten the notification. Damn DMV. The enhanced license will be required for flying next year, and I didn’t want another trip to the DMV if I could prevent it. I looked up what was needed for that. Among other documents, my marriage certificate is required. Seriously? Yes, because I hyphenated my name, I needed my missing marriage license.

I went back through the mail basket only to discover that the notification was there and that it had been opened. Maybe this was my husband’s fault. But I knew that I had not been paying attention.

As I frequently do, I’d gone through the mail while thinking about something else or doing two other things at the same time. A mundane, tedious task overlooked.

On Monday, I sacrificed the morning to go get my license renewed instead of going to work and getting a good start on the week ahead of me.

I often remind myself to stay present. Be in the moment. This is challenging with family and work responsibilities, things I need to do and things I want to do—all piling up like a landfill of life.

Being mindful isn’t a habit yet. I still need to remind myself, but some days are better than others. Like the other night on my way to bed. I happened to stop at my daughters’ room to just take in their sleeping faces. I cracked open their door and turned off the music. As I stood there in the hall light, a faint voice came out from the blankets, “I love you, Mommy.” Some days it is just so good.

Establishing a practice of mindfulness is for everyone. You don’t need to be a granola-eating, tree-hugging vegan wearing hemp kaftans to benefit from mindful living. It is for all of us.

Mindful living is simple but not necessarily easy. It is something that will require effort in our fast-paced, technology-filled world. The benefits are small and large, tangible and intangible. It’s important that we are paying attention to the world around us, whether we are opening mail or watching our child sleep.

We can stop and take notice and say a prayer of gratitude.

Sometimes I remember to take a breath when my girls have taken 20 minutes to brush their teeth and I want some quiet time. We can take a breath. We can feel our feet against the floor. Let’s notice the daffodils as they rise out of the ground—not when the blossom is turning brown.

Being mindful isn’t a “new age” thing. In simple terms, it’s about paying attention and giving space to notice not only the big moments, but the little sparks that occur when they aren’t anticipated.

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