I spent almost my entire past weekend in a classroom exploring spirituality, religion and if and when it should be included in a therapeutic practice. It was incredibly interesting, especially after having begun to cultivate my own path in this arena over the past few years. We are members of a Lutheran church where I am comfortable in part due to my Lutheran upbringing, but I also have explored yoga and meditation in various forms. I’ve done my best to cultivate my own meditation practice, but with 2 small children and graduate school in my daily list of to-dos, sitting down to a formal meditation doesn’t often work for me. Instead, for now, I do my best to use my prana (breathing techniques) during my everyday tasks, and I try to continually bring my mind back to the present moment. Try.
During my hectic schedule over the weekend, my parents alleviated some of the craziness by offering to watch Cooper and Sophie for a few (5?) hours on Saturday afternoon/evening. Later my mom recounted a story to me of how she and Sophie walked around the block. Slowly. She told me that Sophie wanted to ride her little “beep beep” car, but every few feet had to get out, find some small treasures and store them in the engine compartment. Then she’d continue her ride with a new leaf, rock or other found object of interest for a few more feet. My mom loved it! I, on the other hand, could already picture my blood pressure rising. I don’t know if it’s a product of having worked in a very busy corporate environment for so many years, rushing from meeting to meeting, or if it’s life in the city or what, but I have a hard time enjoying the journey and not focusing on the destination. I notice it all of the time in myself, so when my mom was recalling how much she enjoyed this walk with Sophie, I was a little bit jealous. I want so badly to not rush around, but something always tells me we have to hurry, even when we don’t. I am getting much better at it, though, and I quickly reminded myself of that, as well.
This conversation also reminded me that without naming it and without calling any attention to it, my parents have given me a gift. The same gift that on Saturday afternoon, my mom also passed on to her granddaughter. The gift is that I was able to pull from my memories time that my parents took me canoeing around some northern Minnesota waterways for hours, watching the water circle out from their oars and the loons swim wonderfully close. Hours spent sitting at the side of the lake by a campfire, looking up at the stars and discussing the best way to perfectly singe a marshmallow over the fire. Hours at the kitchen table with my mom, focused on chopping potatoes, eggs and radish in to just the right size for a big bowl of her famous potato salad. Hours spent sitting in the boat with my dad, learning how to bait my own hook and patiently wait for a fish to check it out. This is true mindfulness in action. This is the stuff that doesn’t take counting breaths and refocusing the mind. This occurs naturally by living life to the fullest and noticing the beauty in the everyday. This is the time they spent with their children, passing on a legacy of wonder at the great outdoors. This is mindfulness at it’s best. A true gift to be unwrapped again and again and again, and yet, the excitement and wonder and awe will last a lifetime. A gift of the highest order.