Tip #4 is be present and pay attention. It’s possible to “miss” good chunks of your life because you’re so focused on getting things done – or thinking about the future or the past – that you forget to pay attention to what you are doing and the people you are with.
The upside is as soon as you realize you’re “gone”, you can choose to do something about it. When you choose to be present, you re-establish a sense of connection with yourself, the people you love, and the natural world.
Specific ways to refocus your attention in the moment: your body is your best bet.
- Make eye contact if someone is speaking to you
- Notice shadow, the shape of a mouth or nose, hands, the depth of color in a loved one’s eyes or hair.
- For the emotion (or lack thereof) in what is being said.
- Try to identify as many different sounds as you can, wherever you are.
- I never thought I would forget the sound of my kids’ laughter as young children, but be warned: unless you record it, you might.
- While washing/bathing, notice the feel of water splashing and soap sliding on your skin
- Feel the warmth of a loved one’s breath on your face as they give you a kiss.
- Give or get a hug that lasts 5- 10 seconds or more
- Your morning coffee/tea
- The food you eat
- The rain, your child (best after a bath/shower if you have ‘tweens or teens)
- Your house as you walk in the door after being away
- Each. Bite.
- Something salty, sour, sweet, bitter
If you realize you can hardly remember driving home (or what you did yesterday), chances are your mind was wandering while you were doing whatever you were doing. That’s natural, but it’s a good practice to reign it in and be able to direct (and sustain) your attention when you want to. Obviously a key life skills for kiddos, too!
In addition to the above, here are some fun ways to help kids learn to focus their attention.
- Try sitting quietly, eyes closed, for a whole minute
- Notice the sound and feel of their breath as they blow bubbles
- Close your eyes and identify 3 sounds in the room right now
- While dancing to music, pause the music and “freeze” for 10 seconds
- Notice flavor, texture, smell, and sound of the food being eaten
- Walking only on the lines on the sidewalk, playground (some Montessori classrooms have a line of tape on the classroom floor)
- Balancing on one foot
- Watching their bellies rise and fall as they breathe
- Thinking about what and where they are putting any object (homework, sports gear, keys, etc).
The irony is that so often, in retrospect, it’s the simple routines, casual moments, and everyday conversation and kindnesses that make our lives meaningful. Take a cue from your kids, who generally inhabit the moment. In the process, you, too, may find a restful moment and make the choice to savor it.