“I distinctly remember that moment. It was the first time I had sat down in years.”
A friend was telling me about a moment years earlier when she was on the tail end of several years of intense outward activity. First, managing a massive building project and on the heels of that creating a 200 hour teacher training program. One weekend during the program, while the main teacher was leading a class and others were cooking lunch, she sat down. For once, there was nothing for her to do. It was the first time she had truly sat down in years. Not making phone calls. Not working on the computer. Not making lists or having a meeting or driving to the next appointment. Just sitting. Simply being.
It was such a powerful contrast to the previous weeks, months, and yes even years, of constant doing that it made a deep impression on her. I don't think, in all her activity, she had even realized how long it had been. It took a few more years of intense activity before she started to realize that all this doing wasn't making her any happier.
I share this story because I think many of us can relate to this tendency to get caught in all the activities and responsibilities of life. We forget that it’s not what we do but who we ARE that matters most. Often when we’re busy and overwhelmed we are not able to be our best and truest self, for ourselves or for others.
However, when we are able to pause, even in some small way, we can reconnect with ourselves and with the present moment. We reconnect with the calmness and the strength that is already inside of us and that can carry us through all of life’s circumstances. It's in there, I promise!
We are all striving to do our best and to help our children do their best too. But sometimes to do our best we have to learn how to BE! When we’re in “doing mode” we can get caught on autopilot and drift away from living and parenting with conscious awareness. We can get lost in the constant motion from one thing to the next without ever questioning why. If our bodies do stop for a moment our minds can still be busy thinking, planning, analyzing, lost in the past or future.
What if to be a better parent you actually had to stop doing, once in a while? To sit down, take a deep breath and just be. Even for a moment. When was the last time you sat down like that? Maybe that sounds far-fetched or even impossible. Often we make excuses and tell ourselves we’ll find the time “later.” Next weekend. Next month. After the kids go to college! Another friend of mine, a massage therapist, likes to say, “Never postpone comfort,” because sometimes a small adjustment now can save us from days, weeks, even years of pain and discomfort down the line.
Children are only young once. Don’t wait until later to take time to pause and be fully present. Make time today to do something to care for yourself and reconnect with the calmness and joy within you. Perhaps it’s pausing to really enjoy a cup of tea or finding time for a quiet walk. Maybe it’s sneaking into the bathroom to take a few deep breaths so you can return to your daily activities a little more centered and calm.
Yes, there are responsibilities and things to do, but don’t underestimate the importance of taking time to simply be. It can feed and support you in all that you do and even help you be more productive, more conscious and certainly more joyful in all your activities.
If you’re looking for support and inspiration around how to be more present and centered, to find time for a conscious pause, join our monthly “self-care” circle this Wednesday. There will be a relaxing centering practice and time to reflect and connect with other parents. You'll leave feeling refreshed and inspired!