For years I’ve thought of writing my own blog but studying, moving countries, establishing my own organisation, getting married and having a baby always came first. OH Life – how tediously extraordinary you have been! 🙂
So here is my first post – inspired by this extraordinary, ordinary life.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine made up a word which has grown to be my new favourite word: “is-ness”. We were discussing the significance of the present moment, the power of now – the value of the ‘is-ness’ of each moment. It got me thinking: being the ambitious, ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of race that we are, human beings are socially conditioned into racing past their present moment. And those that are not in that race are usually held up somewhere in the past. It is a very fortunate few that find the power of their is-ness.
I have consciously been trying to live with awareness and mindfulness for the last 10 years… but nothing has forced me to be more present than my daughter, Aanavi.
Playing with Aanavi, I find that she pays more attention to the here and now than I do. Look at her, the sheer thrill of being on a boat for the very first time! Forget about savouring it, she is devouring this spectacular moment! When did we, as adults, last devour a moment?
Young children focus so intently on even a toy or game; they seem to enjoy taking time to really experience things like the feel of sand in their fingers. That’s all that matters to them – what is. Even if Aanavi’s upset, all I need to do is pick her up and move her out of the situation and she would have forgotten all about whatever triggered the emotion. We are all born with the power to value our present moment. One word that describes how children do whatever they do is ‘whole-heartedly’ whereas grownups often do things ‘half-heartedly’.
However, as children get older, they live in a world of being told what to do, what time to go to school, to hurry up with an activity. This begins to create that autopilot way of life that we, as adults, are so familiar with. Children are socially conditioned into becoming less aware of what they are doing right now.
From the day they start school we ask children to live outside of their present moment. We constantly ask them to think about their future – “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I have never known a teacher to ask “so WHO (not what) do you want be now?” I know many teachers who get excellent results out of their students by saying “This topic is useful for your GCSE exam – and you will need good grades to get into a good college.” but have you ever heard a teacher say “this is useful and current to your life now!”
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for the kind of learning that guides students to think strategically about their futures, to set goals and targets; of course that is equally important and has a firm place in quality education. But there is enough empirical evidence to show that mindful embracing of the present moment, bringing attention to the task at hand, completing it and enjoying it rather than stressing about it can actually boost students’ grades; dissolve depression, disengagement and aggression in schools; prevent school drop-outs and create happier, more compassionate citizens who contribute positively to our communities.
We force young minds to always be concerned with the ‘should haves’, the ‘would haves’, the ‘could bes’ and the ‘may bes’. But what about the ‘is’? The simplest of words. By playing this game with our minds, we are either trapped in the past or trying to play catch-up with the future, either way, we’ve set ourselves up to burn out and fall.
It is imperative to teach our children this powerful tool! They become human “be-ings” by being in the present moment.
I want to be the kind of parent that encourages Aanavi to get rid of all the “will bes” and the “should haves”. I aspire to guide her to be more aware, to be alert and to appreciate what she’s got now.
I hope to inspire you to do this with your children.
Appreciate your child for who they are now, be aware of their current learning needs and be alert enough to respond to them in every moment.
Make the “is-ness” your business.