When I was growing up my mom used to say, “It’s so loud in here, I can’t hear myself think.” As a child I thought, “Whatever.” Now, as a parent, I totally understand what she was saying.
There are moments, more often than I like, that the noise and busyness of family life are so loud that I can’t keep my train of thought. After one particularly noisy trip to the grocery store with all three of my daughters vying for my attention and requesting sweet treats and other extras, I called my mom and told her my tale of woe. I felt on edge and worn out. My mom, in her wisdom and probably remembering similar moments in her parenting experience said, “I’m going to send you a check and I want you to download these meditations. I think they will really help. They have helped me.” In her wisdom, my mom was suggesting meditation as a coping strategy and it works! Now I get up every day before every one else to have my 15 minutes of meditation and, on most days, I can, more clearly, “hear myself think.”
Funny enough, I’m also a preteen teacher in the Youth Center. I had the opportunity to enlighten the preteens about meditation. Remembering my own preteen “whatever” reaction to my mom’s comment about hearing herself think, I asked the kids what they thought when they heard the word “meditation.” They responded with:
- sitting still for a long time
- eyes closed
- not fun
- something adults do
I told them about Thich Nhat Hanh and his ideas about meditation. In his book “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment,” he suggests meditation can be done while walking, washing your hands, driving a car, picking a flower, cleaning the bathroom, and hearing a bell. All we need to do is use the activity to bring our awareness back to the present moment. To pay attention to how the water feels on our hands or the bell sounds in our ears. And, most importantly, to breathe. Meditation can be as simple as one mindful breath.
So, what do you do when life gets so loud that you can’t hear yourself think? For families, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests having a bell in a central location in the house. When someone in the family feels like things are getting a little too noisy or chaotic, he or she rings the bell. Upon hearing the sound of the bell, every family member is reminded to stop and take three mindful breaths. Can you spare 30 seconds for three mindful breaths? If that’s too hard or you don’t think your family would play along, what about three mindful breaths at every red light or when your phone announces a text message has arrived? How could our lives be different if we embraced the concepts of meditation and incorporated them into our everyday moments?
How and when do you practice meditation? What have you noticed? Share your answers with me in the comments!