I know I’m not the only one lying awake at night thinking of our hurting world. I hold my babies tighter not sure of their future and what it might look like. I say this with a compassionate attitude towards those that are truly suffering. I’ve been feeling empathy pains and aches for those people whose lives have been shattered and live in fear on a daily basis. In order to keep moving forward, I choose to focus on the moment and pay attention to what’s in front of me. “Be present,” said Ms. Lei, J’s teacher during her Empathy Parenting workshop a month ago. She gave an example of when we treat ourselves to a cup of coffee. Often we are instantly pulled in six different directions, breaking the silence, and missing it’s greatness.
“When you are in the now,” she said, “you will be aware of every last sip.”
What a wonderful idea and journey we could all take through life. She shared with us the children’s daily routine of circle time at the beginning of each day. By asking each child to “come into the circle and feel your breath,” she’s inviting them to be present and practice mindfulness.
I challenge us all to begin to live our lives this way. When a friend shares with you her struggle over her child’s behavior, put aside your to-do lists and personal struggles. Be in the moment. Practice empathy friendship. This could just be undivided conversation and a hug or offering to babysit. If your child is struggling to put on his shoes and your arms are full of library books, purse, water bottle, and you’re halfway out the door. Stop. Put everything down (you can huff and puff in your head, if it helps) and help him through the struggle. If your partner seems tense from work (and if you two can grab a moment alone) lend an ear to those struggles, even if you have no idea what their job entails.
Mother Teresa said “small things, done in great love, bring joy and peace.” This is absolutely true. Tuck that note into your kids lunchbox. It might just be the lift they need to get through a tough day of middle school. Pick up dinner for a family of five, just because. Practice random acts of kindness. I can say with absolute certainty that the reward will be two fold. You get to make someone’s day but the joy in giving will be all yours.
In addition to mindful living, recognizing what we’re grateful for can also lift our spirits.