Walk into any bookstore or supermarket; open any newspaper or magazine, and it would be hard to miss the mindfulness mania that has swept our nation. From colouring-books to join-the-dots, slow cooking, slow living and now even slow parenting – everywhere we go in our busy lives we are being reminded to ‘stop and smell the roses’.
Mindfulness has also become part of the corporate culture, with happiness conferences and mindfulness leadership courses on offer in all the major organisations.
One could almost be forgiven for thinking that our quest for being in the moment has gotten a little out of control. But behind every trend and movement, there’s usually more than a smidgen of home truth. You only have to ask a parent, co-worker or friend, how they are and instead of the traditional response, “I’m well, how are you”, more often than not it’s a quick-fired “busy”.
As parents, many of us are all just trying to stay afloat until those end of year concerts and liturgies are behind us, the last school lunch is made for the year and Christmas presents for the teachers are bought, wrapped and delivered. Then we all collapse into a heap and brace ourselves for the Christmas season. Once that is over, we tell ourselves, we can truly relax and spend some ‘quality’ time with the kids.
In among this “quest for mindfulness” is an important message that we are hearing over and over again.
It’s not about counting the minutes you spend with your children; it’s about spending meaningful time with them. And that means turning off the phone, the television, anything else that carries data, and concentrate on actually being present in the moment with them – because as we know, in the busyness of life, our kids grow up fast.
“Blink and you will miss it” is something we repeatedly hear from the older and wiser generation that has walked the path of parenthood before us.
Dr Tim Sharp, (aka Dr Happy), one of Australia’s leaders in the fields of positive psychology and happiness, backs this up saying that spending real time with your children is a crucial factor in raising children that thrive and flourish.
This way, our kids can see who we are and how we live our life. They can see who we are as people, and what matters to us.
“We all lead busy lives but the most valuable and important gift that we can ever give our children is our time and undivided attention,” he says.
“It’s such a simple thing that we can give them.”
Pope Francis is also a strong advocate of the glory of presence, beginning and ending each day in the silence of prayer, taking time to listen to the depths of inner stillness.
This is born from the belief that when the mind is still and unoccupied, awareness actually begins and “from the well of silence in our heart comes generosity, gentleness, innocence and joy”.
So as we head into the silly season, the one thing we must remember to give our self and those we love, is the gift of slowing down. So we can take the time to see the things that really matter. And, if all else fails, maybe pop one of those mindfulness colouring-in books under the Christmas tree as well.