Over the last few years, I have heard a lot about self-care. Taking care of ourselves is extremely important as we cannot care for others if we are tapped out.
One of the areas of self-care that I have worked on for several years is mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences in the present moment without judgement. The definition includes that it is a skill that develops through practice. In other words, it doesn’t just happen by accident.
Making time for being present – being in the moment – takes work and is a skill that I, as a people-focused, service-oriented individual, don’t do very well. I am getting better at it, however.
I am making time to sit with my cup of coffee and listen to the wind chimes severalmornings each week with my dog snuggled in my lap and just be quiet. I am making time to connect with family and be completely engaged in the conversation. This may mean turning off or putting away my phone.
When our daughter was small, we started a tradition of Saturday “Ladies Lunch”. Now, this wasn’t anything fancy and we were usually just picking up groceries. My only rule was that the restaurant had to be somewhere with waitstaff. Not only were we practicing table manners but our daughter knew that for that time, she had my undivided attention. We were building a wonderful (but certainly not perfect!) relationship. When she was in college, she would occasionally call to ask if I could meet her halfway for “Ladies Lunch” so that we could catch up and have some priceless, focused time together. This was one way to model mindfulness at its best!
Some of my favorite moments can happen in the next few weeks. I love to sit with just the Christmas tree lights on and soak up the flickering colors and shiny ornaments as I reflect on family and friends.
Have you ever watched a small child when they see something fascinating? The sheer delight on their face and contagious giggle is hard to beat – and it happens because they are completely in the moment!
It is hard as adults to put away our stresses, concerns, and fears to be completely in the moment. It is a good skill to model for young people. It does not mean ignoring our responsibilities but gives us the ability to better address the hard things in our days.
Over the next few weeks, make time to stop for a few minutes ... just listen to your heart, to nature, to your favorite music, to a child’s laughter. Pick up a book of inspirational quotes or devotions. If you are with family or friends, put your phone away and turn off the tv to be fully engaged in the conversation.
Mindfulness takes practice and now is a perfect time to get started!
Keep learning. Keep showing grace and kindness.
Michelle Beran is the 4-H Youth Development Agent in the Cottonwood Extension District. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth Development resources, email Michelle at [email protected] or call Cottonwood Extension District – Barton Office at 620-793-1910.