Several years ago I participated in an online class taught by Eckhart Tolle and Oprah. I looooooved it. (If you haven’t read A New Earth, do!) During one of our classes, a mother called in and asked Eckhart what she should do about not having time in her day to meditate or keep up with any kind of spiritual practice.
He told her that her children were her church. They are the greatest teachers of living in the present moment, he said. They will challenge and change you more than any other spiritual practice.
I have always been a spiritual person and writing has always been my favorite form of meditation. I remember being 21 and backpacking in New Zealand by myself–talk about freedom!–and writing in my journal one afternoon while I was staying at this organic farm / yoga retreat center / bliss-on-a-mountain location.
The woman who ran the farm with her yogini Columbian husband and one-year-old daughter stood for a moment and watched me write in my journal. She sighed and said to me, “I remember when I used to journal.”
Today, my daughter is almost a year old and one of the biggest challenges for me has been learning how to stay in the present moment. I think I got pretty good at it before baby (toot horn). Now I’m learning it all over again. I once read somewhere that motherhood was like learning how to knit on a roller-coaster. Yes, agreed.
Since I run my own business and I am passionate about what I do, sometimes it’s hard for me to switch gears from business owner to mom. I remember when I would work on my website for 8 hours at a time, or launch a program in a week, or journal to my heart’s content and that’s just not possible anymore.
When I’m sitting with her as she carefully figures out how to get a grain of rice into her mouth and I’m thinking, “I should be blogging!” I know I am not in the present moment.
She is a constant reminder to enjoy every moment and appreciate the simplest parts of life that I used to take for granted: The taste of pesto, the utility of teeth, care-free napping, learning how to laugh and what’s funny–how does she know when something is funny? That blows my mind.
Sometimes when she’s nursing, I put down my iPhone and hold her feet and squish her tiny perfect toes or I study the fine wisps of her curly, corn-silk blonde hair. She is completely perfect and she came out of my belly! Even though I watched it happen, I still can’t wrap my mind around it.
Top 5 things I’ve learned from my Buddha Baby, and what yours can teach you:
1) Let go of how things used to be. Seriously. Stop comparing. Milk now flows from my body to nourish another human being — nothing will ever be the same.
2) Babies are pause buttons. Think of these couple years as a pause button on life. Your note to go home from school early. Rest more, forgive yourself (and others) more, laugh more.
3) Re-think your To-Do Lists. Better yet, cut them in half. Then cut them in half again. There–that’s what you can get done in a day now. It’s okay. 🙂
4) Sometimes not being present can feel like anxiety or boredom. Those are two red flags to tell you you’re missing the moment. If you are feeling anxious about not getting enough done, do deep belly breaths like I taught you here. If you’re feeling bored, stop for a moment and put yourself in your baby’s shoes. How crazy would it be to discover you have ten squishy toes on your feet! And that you have feet!
5) Find the advantage and blessing of each stage. For example, I used to eagerly anticipate the day she would no longer spit up all over every outfit. But what I didn’t appreciate was how easy it was to set her down and she would stay in one place!
For all you non-moms or moms-to-be: Sleep in, have a glass of wine, get out your journal or favorite book and take the afternoon to indulge in some me-time, watch a movie uninterrupted, do anything uninterrupted, and seize the present moment like a baby discovering their toes. Because we are all babies, really. Discovering our toes.
Photo: Me, my husband and our Buddha Baby.