I have noticed that spending time with a 4-year-old teaches me to be mindful, present and curious. My grandson makes me realise the preciousness and gift of the present moment. He has also taught me to be more curious. Each time I see him, he has changed and grown. He does things slightly differently and more adeptly. Therefore, every time he does something, it’s a fresh and new moment. He finds joy in the simplest of things; things that we may find mundane. In our mindfulness training we are invited to observe ‘what’s happening’ with curiosity. With the curiosity of a child. To forget what we know, and explore how we feel as if for the very first time.
On reflection, I recognise that among all the great mindfulness teachers I have had, my grandson is actually one of them. A mindfulness teacher in disguise. If we take time to notice, many people and situations can teach us mindfulness. Children are only ever in the moment. My grandson has an exuberance and inquisitiveness I’ve long forgotten. He’s not making stories, worrying about the future or trying the fix the past. There he is… in each moment…truly living his experience. If he experiences joy or pain he expresses in the moment, then moves on to the next moment.
He splashes in puddles squealing with joy, tirelessly. He gathers leaves and twigs with the genuine excitement of finding a prize for a valued collection. He doesn’t care about the rain, or the mud, or the cold. It’s just here, now, exciting and waiting to be experienced and explored.
As I spend time with him, I notice how I feel, with curiosity. To begin with, I’m aware of smiling at his joy. Then I’m often intrigued as to why he finds something so exciting, joyful or funny. How he never gets bored doing the same thing over and over. And then I notice resistance. There is a resistance in me to letting go and having fun. It’s like I have been programmed to be more serious. I find that I am judging, self-critical. It’s a bit like there is an elastic band inside of me that will only stretch so far, pulling me back. I notice this and decide to respond differently. To let go.. join in… be 4 again.
Curiosity and Joy
Oh how much fun it is to climb through an obstacle course to reach a giant slide with stars on and whizz down. We race and the laughter increases, as we do the circuit again and again and again. Each time is as much fun as the first time. I dance in the rain with him, splashing in big puddles, and run and race, with no objective, but to just have fun. I become aware of how this makes me feel. It makes me feel free inside and more joyful in my mind and body. We walk on the beach and pick up stones, shells and seaweed. He inspects his collection of objects with love and real deep interest. He looks at patterns, forms, shapes, colours and decides some objects are of great value.
This teaches me to take the time to look closer, look at the detail. I see the wonder and beauty in a pebble, shell, leaf, stick, flower. The list is endless. I realise how the small things in life are such a gift. How we are surrounded by miraculous nature, and seldom take the time to notice.
Sometimes it’s good to go back to the beginning of our mindfulness journey and remind ourselves to take it lightly, with an attitude of fun. Forget what we know and be curious of how the moment unfolds. In that I am finding that insight arises in the curiosity. Being about to see deeply is the gift we receive as we progress on our mindfulness journey.
This week’s challenge is to bring a childlike curiosity back into your practice and your life and notice how you feel. Can we approach the coming year with a different attitude? Can we set an intention to allow insight to arise by reminding ourselves to be curious again? Can we spot the mindfulness teachers in disguise? The challenge is to set a new year resolution to be curious and kind, and notice, without judgement, the insight that arises from just that alone.
I’d love to hear your own insights from being curious again. I’d also love to learn about your mindfulness teachers in disguise. Please email me with your comments, or comment on this post.
I wish you all a very mindful, curious and Happy New Year.