If we were asked about the happiest days of our life, many of us would say, ‘childhood’. Indeed, childhood in its purest form is synonymous with happiness. It was a time of carefree days when we would run around and play imaginary games, unworried about what the future holds; it was also a time when life was easier, uncomplicated. We learned new things faster and were able to see the wonder in simple, ordinary objects. At that age, running around for miles seemed like a brilliant proposition, and contentment and laughter came easy. It would not be incorrect to say that the mind was at its healthiest then. As we grow, anxiety for the future creeps in, as do several insecurities that build up through life experiences. Health issues begin to crop up, while contentment and joy become a rare commodity that we search for frantically, in holiday destinations and places of worship.
What if we were to take a lesson out of childhood and use it as a guide to help us cope with life? Perhaps then we could untangle many complexities of adulthood. The child’s ability to be in the present moment is the most important lesson we adults could learn.
Mindfulness is a buzzword doing the rounds these days. It makes sense to investigate what it is about this practice that so comforts and soothes the frayed urban senses. You could say that mindfulness is that zen art of living life, that young child, who live blissfully in the moment, have already mastered. When you are free from worrying about what might happen later or repenting about yesterday’s mistakes, you will be able to experience the present moment like never before.
Have you ever tried tasting an ice-cream like a child, savoring every icy bite that melts into the mouth? This is mindful eating. Try this exercise: At mealtime, look at your plate of food, noticing how tempting it looks, allow its aroma to tease your senses, and only after you pick up a morsel gently, feeling the texture, must you put it in your mouth taking your time to relish the flavors. Mindful eating is just one of the many exercises we can do as adults and practice as families to take our minds off unwanted worries. Specialists say it helps us digest our food better too. Too often do we gulp our meals down unmindfully and have more important things at hand than focusing on chewing properly. We rush through life, without a thought, letting beautiful moments pass us by, hardly able to recall the last meal we ate.
During Covid times, much of the personal time that used to be part of our daily routines — travel to and from work, time alone at home, going out to buy groceries — is not available. It makes it all that more important to intentionally create space to recharge. Although, right now, it may seem that multitasking is the only way to make things work, psychologists the world over say that it increases stress. It is much more advantageous to carve out time for oneself by focusing on one thing at a time. The best thing about mindfulness is that it does not have to be elaborate. Just securing a few moments for yourself before everyone is awake helps to get yourself together and put things in perspective. Sip that cup of your favorite beverage, taking in each breath mindfully, making time for your thoughts to form for the day. That golden moment is nothing less than meditation. Its benefits are proof that we can easily adopt a meditative way of life even if we cannot take up meditation.
Connect with the child still present in you – carve out moments in the day when you can be unattached to the past or the future and simply allow yourself to be. It could be a brief walk in the park or a doodle on a page or watching the clouds in the sky.The mind truly holds the secret to good health – the more we allow our mind to relax, it grows stronger and more capable of coping with difficult times. Let us be as hopeful, happy, brave, and resilient as children are.
For once, let us learn from their ability to live in the present. In these uncertain times, this is a lesson that will surely help us build healthy coping skills.