Gift of the Present: How Mindfulness Strengthens Relationships
This morning, I made a decision to eat mindfully.
Halfway through my lunch, I suddenly realized that my conscious mind missed the first half of my sandwich. I was typing, unmindful that I was eating. So with the next bite, I ate more mindfully, paying attention to the different tastes as they passed over my tongue.
Then, since I was simultaneously typing this article (multitasking is surely against the mindfulness “rules”), I decided to type with mindfulness.
Normally when I type, my fingers fly across the keyboard and I pay no attention to them whatsoever. In fact, that is one of the things I like about typing—it’s like my hands know a foreign language, and they’re so fluent that I don’t have to even think about what they are trying to say. I just allow them to say it. But today, I decide to put my awareness in my fingertips, mindfully. I felt the smoothness of my keyboard; it was almost soft, because it was so smooth. I noticed each movement of my hand.
With all my attention in my fingers, I started thinking about where the letters were and suddenly I made typo after typo, as if it was unconsciousness that allows my fingers to type, not consciousness. I took another bite and realized how hard it is to be truly mindful of two things at once. I wondered if my extremely multi-tasking life could really handle mindful living on an ongoing basis. How would I drive, talk on my cell phone, navigate, drink water, plan the next day, and make my “to-do” list if I paid true and mindful attention to everything I did?
Then the thought crossed my mind: How do I truly live, if I do not? Just like the first half of the sandwich that my mind fully missed while I thought about other things, how much of our lives are we missing while we unmindfully do so much? I realized it isn’t the mindfulness I should sacrifice for the multi-tasking; it is the other way around.
I can’t help but wonder how a multitasking lifestyle impacts relationships. What if we were really present with each and every person we spoke to? I have few regrets in life, but the thing I will always regret is not being more mindful when my mom called to talk. I remember that I was always happy to hear from her, but I also remember doing a lot of other things while I talked with her, not giving her my full attention nor giving myself hers. That is the one thing I am not sure I will ever forgive myself for, now that I can no longer have phone conversations with my mom. But am I still guilty of doing the same thing with other people that I love! I have been known to be talking to my husband while simultaneously opening email, instant messaging with at least two other people, and watching TV at the same time.
Do we “multitask” because we have so much to do, or because we are consciously or unconsciously avoiding being truly present and mindful with someone else? What is so important that we don’t have the time to be truly present to love and communication?
While I may be mindful in one area of my life, simultaneously there are many areas where I am not; the same is likely true for you. My mindfulness seems to work more like a roving spotlight, shining on one thing then the next, seldom illuminating the whole of me and my life at once. For some, that spotlight hasn’t even ever been turned on; no self-observation has ever taken place. The beauty, power, and peacefulness of the present moment has never been experienced at all.
While it may not be possible to be mindful all day long, the power of a mindful moment each day shared with someone you love can make a relationship strong and loving. A mindful moment with yourself can keep you peaceful and capable of being strong and loving.
Love Tip of the Week: Give the present moment, whatever it holds, your full attention for even just a few minutes each day. There you will discover peace, joy, love, and connection.