Every day I work on living in the moment and returning to my present self. It is no easy task. When I started to practice this daily, is was astounding how out of touch I found I really was. Just the fact that we need to practice this is wild, isn't it?
In reading, Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children by Sarah Napthali, I learned a really neat trick to anchor myself back to the present. The author suggests you pick a common place or task and each time you walk by or perform this task it reminds you to stop, breathe and return your thoughts to the present. Anchor examples are a doorway or hallway that you walk through several times a day.
We live directly under a flight path so planes power by at all hours of the day. When we first moved here it was slightly distracting, but we soon embraced it after seeing Zen Masters delight with each jet passing by. Now these flights, just like many things in our day-to-day routine, seem to well, just fly by, unnoticed. So I picked these flights as my anchor.
Tonight's dinner was normal. Loud, distracting, messy. I was on my own, expecting Biggest Fan home later in the evening. Zen Master was talkative. He wanted pepper on his plate and ended up shaking too much, leaving him upset. I had to remind him more than once to sit down on his bum. Little Buddha was smacking both hands on his high chair tray, delighted with the new tastes he was experiencing. Zen Master knocked over his water and it came pouring on to my side of the table. Little Buddha dropped some food and I dove to grab it before the dog pounced on it first. I had to tell the dog to stop begging. Little Buddha was squealing for more food. In an effort to stay two steps ahead of Zen Master I was thinking about what I was going to serve for dessert. Then I started thinking about the laundry I needed to get done. Diapers, I had to wash the diapers. And I was scarfing down bites in between it all.
Then I heard the plane.
I couldn't help but laugh. Seriously? Are you kidding me? How the hell do I practice mindfulness right now among this freaking craziness?
I watched the plane through the window to our back yard. It sounds much louder in the quiet winter evenings. I saw the blinking lights zoom by and vanish overhead with the sound.
Okay, here goes.
Deep breaths. Slow down. Eat mindfully. Taste. Savour. I looked at Little Buddha's messy face. He smiled, his two little teeth poking out through a mess of food. I looked across the table and Zen Master was gobbling up his meal, perfectly content in his own little world. I noticed he was wobbling a lot on the chair and asked him if he felt uncomfortable and explained to him the importance of going pee as soon as we feel like we have to (holding it til he's about to explode is a habit of his that I'm trying to gently guide him away from). He scurried off to the bathroom and I enjoyed a brief minute of silence. When he returns he picks up his cup and asks, "Mama, wanna cheers?" So we clinked cups. Cheers.