Pause, reflect and breathe: Finding magic in the mundane
Posted November 24, 2021 5:00 a.m. EST
The other day, a writer I follow shared this Julia A.F. Carney poem and it has stuck with me.
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.
So the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.
As a community on the Growga Collective, we are learning about and diving into “attention” this month and exploring how our attention can shift our perspective and frame of mind.
Let’s say, for example, we are walking into a child’s birthday party. At first, our attention might be consumed by the chaos. Kids running around, wrapping paper and icing thrown around. When we notice the chaos, our brain’s autonomic nervous system (aka fight or flight mode) kicks in. Our heartbeat increases. Our palms sweat. We might snap at our own child, tense our shoulders, or even hide in a corner (I’ve been there!)
Not only are we feeling stress, but that stress can then translate to our kids, who read and feed off of our responses and emotions (whether overt or apparent) through emotional transference. They are now fussing, crying and erratic. We leave the party at the end (if we made it that far) feeling depleted, and promise to commit to fewer parties in the future because, well, we just did not have a good time. Even as I type this, my heart is beginning to race just thinking about it!
How we direct our attention can greatly impact our experience.
What if, instead of bringing our attention to the chaos, we focused on the smile on the child as they smashed the cake with their tiny hands?
The pride in the mother’s face as she watched on?
What if we stepped into that joy? How would that change our experience?
Not forcing, but instead noticing the beauty of the celebration and pausing to let that wash over us. We chat with other caregivers and parents and maybe even run along the kids outside. We enjoy the cake. We watch the present-opening with anticipation and laugh alongside the others when the child squeals after each one is revealed.
When we choose to focus on the simple things in the midst of chaos, it can activate our parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest or relaxation system. Our heartbeat calms, our breath deepens, and we find ourselves at our baseline. We leave the party feeling calm, relaxed, and even happy.
This can translate outside of the parties and into our day-to-day lives. What if, each morning, we took a moment and stepped outside, looked up, and focused on the color of the sunrise and the changing leaves instead of looking down at our phones? How would that small change make a difference in our day?
By making small shifts in perspective, we can transform our experiences. Try these suggestions to find the magical in the mundane:
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, pause 10-15 seconds. Look up. Look around. Remind yourself that everything will unfold as it should.
Taking time for contemplation can benefit your mind and body. While you sit at the playground watching your kids play, for example, use that time to watch attentively, not anticipating what might come, but simply noticing what is.
Our breath is a constant, yet powerful tool that we can use to slow down. When you find yourself rushing, notice your breath. Deepen your breath into your belly, filling it up with breath. Hold it for a moment, then slowly release it. Repeat.
We don’t always realize the beauty of what is in front of us, but when we slow down even for a moment, we can bring a little more magic into our lives.
Emily Behr is the founder and CEO of Growga, a curriculum delivery platform for Pre-K-8 educators and youth development professionals. Sign up for Mindful Mondays to receive FREE weekly tips and mindfulness activities for youth. Find out more at www.mygrowga.com.