Young Children Teach Us Mindfulness

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When young children try to get your attention, when they interrupt what you’re doing, they might seem to be distracting you but actually they’re calling you back to the present moment. They’re reminding you of what true mindfulness is, which is total contact with the here and now.

Young children do this as a matter of course, they do it naturally. They have that deeper untarnished wisdom, a wisdom that’s been stomped out of most of us by the time we reach adulthood. When they call for your attention their deepest wish, though they can’t articulate it, is that you join with them in order to experience the immediate environment fully immersed in the moment.

In this sense you are the teacher but also the pupil. You are the one taking the lead in life of course, the one dictating whether certain ways of being are acceptable or tabu. When you remain distracted, with your mind in several places, juggling your busy schedule while weighed down by worries, concerns, grief, and regrets, you’re teaching your child that there’s something wrong with their own state of wonder and curiosity towards people and the world. You’re passing on the same culturally transmitted message that you received when you were a child, when you were capable of practicing advanced mindfulness without any training whatsoever. But when you put down what you’re doing and pay full attention to that moment you’re reaffirming your child’s natural inclination towards mindfulness, you’re teaching that our appointment with life is in the present moment and that we better not miss that appointment.

Don’t let the dual teaching opportunity slip through your fingers, the chance for you to teach your child that existing in the here and now is a desirable state and the chance to learn once again how to achieve that state from a certified master. Don’t ignore mindfulness trainings just because the master giving the classes happens to be a very young child. We saw a quote that said, “You shouldn’t try to make your children be more like you, you should try to be more like your children.” The quote certainly applies to the daily practice of mindfulness, to giving 100% of your being to whatever it is you are doing, to experiencing the world in the present tense.

Children have the power to teach us this if we open ourselves up to learning. All you have to do is let your child take the lead, to let go of some of that control, and especially to let your various distractions fall by the wayside for a while and in the moment copy the way of being your child is exuding, a way of being that directs full attention towards objects in the environment, a way of being that allows for the wonders of existence to come bubbling up into conscious awareness, wonders most of us have come to take for granted.