Since about March I have been practicing mindfulness, or mindfulness meditation, which is simply trying to focus on the moment you are in, recognizing when your mind starts to wonder to other things, then bringing it back to the present moment over, and over, again, and again, without judgment. It's actually incredibly hard because our brains are preconditioned to perseverate over the past, or worry about the future, instead of being in the present. Practicing mindfulness has helped me tune-in to the moment, while in the moment, instead of thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
I have been following mom blogger Ilana Wiles for about a year and a half now via Instagram (her account name is @mommyshorts). Look her up if you don't already follow her. Her daughters are the cutest, and she keeps it realer than real, as you can tell by the title of her new book Remarkably Average Parenting. I fell in love with her younger daughter Harlow when I was pregnant because I was sure my daughter June would get her looks from me, and, therefore, look very similar to Harlow. Watch the below video and you'll see Harlow has this adorable brunette hair that is cut into a bob with blunt bangs, a sweet little voice and spunky attitude. It turns out that June looks nothing like me with her red hair, blue eyes and fair skin, but she definitely has enough spunk to rival Harlow's.
I am a big fan of Ilana's, so I was thrilled when I came across this video of her talking about how she fits mindfulness into her busy life as a mom, and blogger. In it, she describes mindfulness as "recognizing when you're in a memorable moment, and really appreciating it." I'm not sure if Ilana has had any official mindfulness training, but she hit the nail on the head in here...
Ronald Siegel, a Harvard professor, and presenter of The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being describes mindfulness the exact same way as Ilana. He explains that so much of our time is spent wishing away moments to get on to the good stuff. Like, "if I can just finish the paperwork, I can get home to be with my kids." Or, "if I can just get through this traffic I can get home to a lovely dinner with my family." In the lecture, he recommends taking the time to reflect on a moment in your life that matters, like really matters. When I did this I thought of my wedding day, of the moment when we were pronounced husband and wife, and we turned around to see 250 familiar, and elated, faces all there in loving support of us. He explains "that the moment is memorable simply because it was a moment where your mind and body had come together to be in the same place fully." And, he is so right. I remember someone telling me to take a moment to "soak it in" on our wedding day because there are so many activities to rush through, and it's important to intentionally take a moment to just enjoy it all. And, that moment stands out to me because it was the one time that day I stopped, and recognized that I was in a memorable moment. That's all mindfulness is; simply recognizing you are in a memorable moment, in that moment.
I love the simple things Ilana does with her girls to be present in the moment. First, she takes a couple minutes in the morning to cuddle with her kids, to be mindful, and present. As she says, "no work, no Email, just me and my kids". This sounds so easy, but I know I've been guilty of spending that time on my phone checking Emails, or the news, instead of just being there, enjoying the moment. Next, she tunes into her kids as they get ready. Instead of saying, "Mazzy, Harlow, go get dressed while I make your breakfast" she engages with them as they pick out their clothes and adorable jewelry. She also just enjoys a walk to school with her kids. If you're anything like me, you're thinking "of course she does, she gets to walk her kids to school through the beautiful terraces of lower Manhattan while they ride along on their scooters with their adorable matching helmets, while I have to sit in traffic on my commute with my kid screaming in the back seat while I'm trying to reach around to grab her "baba" to shove in her mouth without wrecking." But, if I really think about it, the times I am simply "in the moment" with June on our commutes, instead of cussing at traffic or thinking about my day, we have a blast singing songs and jabbering back and forth.
So, thanks Ilana, for reminding us how valuable simply recognizing a memorable moment, in that moment, is.