Skipping Happily: A Mindfulness Lesson

As I walked home today from dropping my son off at school, I passed my neighbor and her daughter. This little girl in her flowery dress was skipping happily alongside her mother. I felt a moment of joy when I caught her smile and her little bouncy skip after skip. I thought, Now that is a child experiencing pure delight. She was truly in the moment, enjoying the moment. In a way she was engaged in mindful skipping.

What would happen if we adults skipped once in awhile? Granted our knees and back may disagree with the movements, but the act of skipping can bring forth this childlike joy we often misplace in our hectic lives. It would support our focus on the present moment and fill us with joyful laughter.

Sharon Salzberg writes in her book Real Happiness, “Mindfulness allows us to enjoy pleasant experiences without that extra thing we do, which is to grasp at the pleasure in an attempt to keep it from changing” (p. 82).  Many of us live in a unsatisfying state of want as we diligently grasp at the pleasurable moment trying to make it last.  It’s like trying to capture a snowflake only to be disappointed when it melts, yet determined to try again and make it last. Moments do not last, moments change. Then we experience unpleasant feelings because the pleasurable moment ended or because we believe we failed at making it last. We then dedicate much of our energy to finding these pleasant moments that many of us end up missing them or not fully appreciating them because we are stuck within a frenetic state of want.  Life soon passes us by.  The irony is that if we could accept the moment as it is, experience the “what is” without grasping at it, then we are more likely to experience and appreciate pleasurable moments.

I imagine that this little girl skipping along happily did not think, Oh how I wish this moment of joy would stay with me forever. She was simply in the moment. Sure, she may have cried at drop off and her mother may have tried to soothe her, but this is the reality of moments–they change, they are not static. This has been a lifelong lesson for me, an understanding cultivated through my mindfulness practice. And this little girl reminded me of this important lesson. We can be like that little girl skipping happily along when we are able to be present, appreciate it for what it is, and then allow ourselves to experience the next moment fully and whatever feelings it brings.

Thich Nhat Hanh beautifully writes, “The only moment in which you can be truly alive is the present moment.”  I appreciate the moment of witnessing this little girl be truly alive. And in that moment I, too, felt truly alive.  May you skip happily down the street and experience life fully.

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