Lessons from Mother’s Day

On Monday, I asked my female friends about their mother’s day. When they reciprocated, I found myself torn between telling the truth or sugar-coating it. The truth is that it was one Sunday I’d like to forget. I was not feeling well, to begin with. My husband was sweet and reserved a lunch time beforehand and bought me a nice gift. My kids’s acknowledgment of the day was not so wonderful. Sure, my son gave me a card he made in school and my daughter crafted a heart out of Legos (which was cool!). These are lovely gestures, but I had expectations. I wanted my kids to tell me how much they loved and appreciated me. I wanted them to wake me up with hugs and kisses. I wanted to feel that all my hard work in trying to be a great parent was recognized.

IT WAS NOT!

At first, I was grumpy and upset, even a bit resentful. In truth, I felt sorry for myself. As I viewed people’s Facebook posts, my sense of disappointment increased. Look at all these pictures of moms with their happy children. They write about their children being amazing and how lucky they are to be their mother.

I posted nothing and felt even more pity for myself. I began questioning my parental efficacy and even my own gratefulness. I thought, I am committed to cultivating compassion, kindness and gratitude, but my kids didn’t show any of this to me on this special day. I should have publicized my gratitude for being a mother. I am a crappy mother and a horrible compassion teacher. 

And so the evil inner critic was released from her cell.

It took me until this morning to remember how my children are my greatest teachers. Parenting, being a mother, challenges us in ways I never wanted to be challenged. Yet, I am so grateful for it now that I have begun a compassion cultivation practice.  Norman Rosenberg, the founder of Non-Violent Communication, states, “It’s possible to understand all unskillful behavior as a tragic expression of an unmet need.”  My disappointment in not being celebrated in the way I wanted had little to do with my children’s appreciation for me. It had to do with my deep sense of unworthiness and the seeking of it’s eradication by receiving adulation from my children. That’s a huge expectation to put on children, or anyone. Yet, this is a common unmet need and even more common unskillful response. I know there are other moms out there who have experienced this and I hope they know they are not alone.

Now, I could have easily let my inner critic hijack my relationship with this experience. In the past I would have allowed her to fuel the untruth that I was a terrible parent and that I do not deserve appreciation. I would have judged myself harshly especially by comparing myself to others who I perceived as having these easy going relationships with their children. The story I would have written may sound very familiar. Instead, I was able to quiet her voice through self-compassion and put my experience in perspective (albeit it took a couple of days).

I still have a life long journey in eradicating my sense of unworthiness, but self-compassion is a powerful practice that helps me open gently to my unmet needs and find ways to skillfully meet these needs. This does not mean I won’t experience this same exact type of day again, but I was reminded (thank you children!) that this practice helps me to move through this experience quicker and less painfully. Mother’s Day showed me that as I open to understanding my relationship to my experiences with non-judgement and tenderness that I cultivate self-love and self-acceptance.

Even though my Mother’s Day was not picturesque, it has now become one to remember.  In varying ways, we all struggle with motherhood, with believing we are enough. I want Mother’s Day to become a day where we celebrate our common humanity and cultivate a compassionate tribe of moms. Who’s with me?

 

The Courage to Speak Up: From the “Hear Their Voices” Series

The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.

~Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his activism for children’s rights

March for Our Lives is an ongoing effort by young people to make this world a safer and kinder place. While the original march is over, the cause continues. I believe it is our duty as adults to support young people’s voices and activism by providing them a platform to make their voices heard. This is the purpose of the Hear Their Voices: Young People as Our Teachers series on this blog.

It is with great excitement that I share with you the voice of a young activist, Dani Schneider. She is an 8th grader who courageously spoke at our local March for Our Lives. Her speech reminds us that we must not remain complacent but join together in our quest for change. She eloquently points out that we must see each other, learn about one another so that we can cultivate empathy and the courage to speak up. She emphasizes the truth that our voices matter and we must use it to make change.

This speech is an act of courage. I urge you to listen and to find a way to act with the same courage.

March for Our Lives Speech

By Dani Schneider, 8th grader

Hello,

My name is Dani Schneider and I’m a Rye Neck student. I have attended Rye Neck since Kindergarten when we were learning Second Step, a program to teach young children about empathy. Now, as an 8th grader, we still are taught about empathy. Because empathy is something that everyone, no matter what age, needs to understand. In English this year, we read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a talented writer in my opinion. Throughout the story, Atticus, the father, teaches his children lessons, as most of you parents do. Two recurring themes in this book  are empathy and courage. And I’m finally beginning to understand how someone can write an entire book revolving around two little words. As Atticus says, “You never really understand how a person until you climb into their skin and walk around in it.”

Just for a moment, we all need to put ourselves in the shoes of others. As many of you are parents, imagine yourself a teacher at Parkland or Sandy Hook. Imagine you’re a parent sending your kids there everyday. If you’re a student, imagine going there everyday. Imagine knowing people who go there. What would you do now? Now that this is happening to you? Would you get more involved? Well, that’s how we all need to think. The difference between Parkland and Sandy Hook is that people are getting involved. Students are getting involved and we are making our voices heard. On March 14th, six other middle school students and I walked out. It created the impact we wanted. Now, we are standing here making our opinions known to all of you.

At school, we are starting up a club called SENS – Students Examine National Safety. We feel that everyone’s voice deserves to be heard and we are here to listen. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, old or young, no matter what you believe in, we all agree something needs to change. Common sense gun laws are necessary unless we want to hear more stories like Parkand. More shootings have happened since Parkland, and none have had the same impact and were hardly publicized. We need change. So why am I here talking to you? What can I do? What can you do?.

Well, we can do one or more of the following things, but some people don’t understand how much influence they have.  Our student group hopes to research marches, speeches, shootings, government statements and more to spread the word. To educate the student population on current events and allow them to speak their mind. By arranging assemblies in school and bringing organizations and speakers we hope to be able to slowly eradicate school shootings and violence. I leave you with this. We must understand that every single person’s voice matters. If everyone thought “Nobody cares what I have to say” nobody would be here now. No marches organized or speakers making their voices heard. We can all do so much! Whether it’s speaking in front of a crowd, attending a march, writing to administration to get schools more involved, writing to  government officials or even the president if you want! Get involved with organizations or clubs. Your voice will make a change. If anyone has any questions, I can answer them now and if for some reason you have a private question feel free to email me. Thank you all!

 

NOTE: This series, Hear Their Voices: Young People as Our Teachers, features writings by people ages 5-18 who want to inspire our society to become more compassionate, more understanding, more focused on peace and justice. Please reach out to me if you know of a young person whose voice could be featured on this blog.

Virtual Reality Glasses: Second in the Series “Hear Their Voices”

This series, Hear Their Voices: Young People as Our Teachers, features writings by people ages 5-18 who want to inspire our society to become more compassionate, more understanding, more focused on peace and justice. This next piece reminds me of an inspirational statement by the renowned Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hahn. He wrote,

Deep listening and loving speech are wonderful instruments to help us arrive at the kind of understanding we all need as a basis for appropriate action. You listen deeply for only one purpose–to allow the other person to empty his or her heart. This is already an act of relieving suffering. To stop any suffering, no matter how small, is a great action of peace. The path to end suffering depends on your understanding and your capacity to act without causing harm or further suffering. This is acting with compassion, your best protections.

Sophia Fasolino is only 7 years old, a second grader who loves to write. She loves playing with her sister and her friends. She is an avid baker, artist, and enjoys time with her family.

Her words can change the world! Her voice emanates compassion. Her words inspire us to listen deeply and to change our actions. It is with great honor that I share her words.

Virtual Reality Glasses

By Sophia Fasolino, 7 years old

Say there were virtual reality glasses and inside there was a world, this world had no guns, sticks or fighting. Just peace. Peace and harmony. They all worked together.

Maybe we can change the virtual reality glasses to life.

 

Stop the Shooting: The First in the Series “Hear Their Voices”

Hear Their Voices: Young People as Our Teachers

I have been inspired by the courageous outcry of the young people marching, speaking out, and mobilizing for social change. It is the passionate voices of young people that was the impetus for beginning a career in education. I learned so much from my students and now I am learning so much from my children. We just need to listen!

While I am no longer a classroom teacher, I am still trying to engage teachers, parents and children to access and grow their voices as well as our collective voice. We can learn so much from each other if we listen compassionately. It is important more than ever to lift up the voices of young people, to follow their lead for peace and justice, to let them teach us how to cultivate compassionate social change.

I am launching a series entitled Hear Their Voices: Young People as Our Teachers. Last week my 5th grade daughter typed up a piece about mass shootings. In school, they were practicing essay writing through outlines. She chose this as her topic and received feedback from her teacher. The assignment ended there, but she decided to type a final draft on her own at home.  I came across it and was inspired!!

If your child, between the ages of 5-18, has written a piece that inspires social change, please email me at wgheckert@gmail.com. I would like to feature your child’s writing on this blog.

Stop of the Shooting 

by Thalia Heckert, 10 years old.

Don’t you just hate mass shootings? Well, I think we should talk to our president about it. I believe we should fix this problem because it hurts our country.

Mass shooting out our country in a bad position. Mass shootings could have an effect, of people thinking of us as bad people. People from outside our country could think our government is weak. Or people could think of us as all bad people, even if some of us did nothing.

Mass shooting causes a lot of people to get hurt, physically and mentally. Many people die just because of mass shootings. A lot of people need hospitalization and, maybe, have to stay there for months with limited time to see their family. Also, kids and adults who went through these shootings could be traumatized, scared of what they had just seen.

Mass shootings could break people up. Maybe a person could hate their friend just because of their opinion about this topic. More importantly, people in government could break apart causing major damage to the country. This might seem rare, but mass shootings could start a civil war just because people aren’t sure if it is perfectly fine or really bad.

In my opinion, I believe we should stop mass shootings because it can harm our country. It makes our country look bad. Also, it hurts people in many ways. Lastly, it can put a wall between people.

Fostering Caring Relationships: A Must for School Safety Reform

School safety has once again become a hot news topic. Students, teachers and parents are mobilizing to make their collective voice heard. We need change! Lets’ grow our voice!

This blog entry is not about gun policy (which is significant and in need of change).  Instead, it is about relationships between students and teachers. School relationships is a topic near and dear to me as it was the focus of my graduate work. I fully admit my bias: I view people’s experiences with and within schools through the lens of relationships. I wholeheartedly believe (and the research that I’ve done highlights this) that teaching and learning happen within the context of relationships. While most people will agree with this, it certainly is taken for granted that high quality relationships occur in school. Just because teachers and students are in a classroom together does not insure that high quality relationships are being developed. It is time to begin prioritizing how to support high quality relationships in schools.

What is a high quality relationship?

From my qualitative research study, educators believed that relationships can and should inform instruction and they most certainly affect students’ learning. Therefore, fostering caring relationships with students was believed to be the underpinning for a meaningful learning experience. While academic achievement is one of the pillars of our education system, I argue that we must continue to focus on the whole child. We must not separate the heart from the mind.

How can a teacher foster a caring relationship with students?

The research participants’ responses uncovered the following three relational behaviors as ways to foster caring relationships with students.

  1. Establishing relationship boundaries
  2. Knowing students a people and as learners
  3. Building a dependable and safe learning environment

Establishing relationship boundaries is a deliberate act on the part of teachers to establish their role as caring. This requires transparency in their intention to establish this role through words and actions and, most importantly, taking into account the students’ boundaries. In other words, teachers need to consider how students perceive them (or teachers in general) by eliciting information from them. Simply ask students: What can I, as your teacher, do to show you that I care about your success?

When students are given the opportunity to express their views and experiences with teachers and school, we send the message that their voices are important, that they are respected. They are viewed and treated as active participants in their school experience. We also collect invaluable information to support how we might engage each student in a caring relationship.

Knowing students as people and as learners is another deliberate act on the part of teachers to become more receptive to students. This is critical to creating conditions that respect and nurture each student. One participant shared, “You get to know kids like you get to know your own children…It just seems to me that that’s your business to find out.” One way to get to know students as people is to be more attentive to behavior changes, to read students so to become more receptive to their needs.

It is easy to get caught up in the pressures of deadlines and learning tasks. I wish for administration to encourage teachers to pause daily and take notice of students’ well-being, and to provide the time within the school day for teachers to address any concerns. An immediate, simple task a teacher can try is taking a mindful moment before beginning the lesson. Try to pause and take a breath to focus one’s attention; while breathing out, scan the room to take note of students’ body language. What stands out? Is someone absent again? Is someone sleeping, agitated, melancholy, overly exuberant? Ask: What is going on with each of my students today?

Building a safe and dependable learning environment begins with teachers showing up every day. Students learn to trust that their teachers will be there in school and support them. When partaking in their mindful moment, teachers can ask: How am I going to respond to show I care?

The way in which teachers respond or do not respond sends messages to students about whether the classroom is a safe place to take risks, to trust themselves, and to be a friend to their classmates. Teachers deliberate effort to build a safe and dependable learning environment requires them to establish relationship boundaries and know their students as people and as learners. It also requires them to build a community of co-learners (teacher-students and students-students). One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is modeling caring behavior. How did I model kindness and care for my students today?

How to support teachers’ caring relationships with students?

Being deliberate in connecting with students is a psychological and emotional commitment, one that can trigger teachers’ vulnerability. No one wants to fail or be rejected. Promoting high quality or caring relationships in schools cannot fall solely on the teacher. The teacher is a whole person too! Administration must prioritize the well-being of teachers, so that teachers can support the well-being of their students. Providing teachers with time and support to practice mindfulness and compassion cultivation can support their skills in the three relational behaviors. Providing teachers with time and a safe environment to share their experiences with colleagues around these three relational behaviors can nurture a caring professional community.

I urge our school leaders, teachers, students and parents to access their courage to promote deeper connections in schools. Over time the benefits will be a more caring and compassionate community, one where people are growing both their hearts and minds. Let this be our future.

 

 

The Snowflake Moment

Breathing in, I calm my body.

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment,

I know this is a wonderful moment.

~ Thich Nhat Hahn

This morning my kids and I decided to walk to school in the snowfall. For the past several cold days, we have driven. While I wanted to avoid the potential hectic street parking and school drop off lines, walking in the snow sounded appealing. The kids, of course, were eager to put on boots, scarves and hats to make the trek. We’ve walked to school many times, but today was different…

About 2 minutes into our walk, my son stops and sticks out his tongue to capture the snow. My daughter follows his lead. In this moment all movement has become still. My mind stops planning my day and my body ceases to feel the rush of getting to school on time. With a smile, I stand still and breath in the sight of my children being present, connecting with nature. I am present, connected with my children and with nature. In this moment, we experience a peacefulness followed by joy.

Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment. 

Even though this pause was brief, its effect carried me throughout the morning. As I walked home from dropping off my kids, I had a bounce in my step and a consistent grin on my face. I sang “hello” to those I passed, making eye contact with each of them. As I turned down my street, which is near a preschool, I soaked up the glee of young children running on the snowy sidewalks. When I got home, I even joyfully shoveled my walkway and sidewalk. 

My morning did not start off so peacefully or joyfully.  Feeling weighed down by sadness, I struggled to get up. I overreacted with my kids. I simply failed to model kindness. The shift in how I related and responded to experience got me thinking about the uniqueness and impermanence of experience, as well as the power of pausing and breathing in the moment.

Snowflakes are unique in their shape and size. No two snowflakes are the same. This truth is well known. Snowflakes also never remain the same once they hit the ground or even the tongue. Snowflakes melt, connect to other snowflakes, and freeze into other shapes. Snowflakes, in essence, are not only unique but impermanent. So is true for our experiences.

Each experience is different and can never be replicated, even though it often does not feel this way. This acknowledgement can support our effort to let go and notice the new moment. My kids pausing encouraged me to experience the moment as it is–as a new experience. As I breathed in and appreciated the moment, my baggage of sadness and anger was dropped and changed as it hit the ground.

While the baggage will likely come back at some point, this brief morning experience has reminded me of something quite simple yet profound. If I can imagine the uniqueness of the snowflake and how it changes as it hits the ground, then maybe I can appreciate my experience for what it is–just a moment, one that I can not nor need to cling to or carry around. Every moment changes and when we pause, even for a second, we get a glimpse of its transformation. As we notice and appreciate this more, I believe we become more awake. And, we are more likely to experience moments of peace and joy.

My wish for today is for everyone to have the chance to stick out their tongue, capture a snowflake and appreciate that this is only a moment, but a wonderful moment.

Compassion Cultivation: A Poem

Compassion Cultivation

Underneath the radiant sun peeking through the thick foliage, I sit.

The small ripples of the water kiss the edge of the land.

Within the calming swish of Somes Sound, I meditate

Inhaling the suffering of all who feel alone and unworthy.

I see a woman crawling from exhaustion, caught in a tornado of tribulation,

Tattered by the particles of lies she holds so close.

Exhaling a peaceful, bright wish that we all may be free from this pain,

I tenderly touch her clenched hands.

As my eyes open, a warm breeze moves through the trees

And I hear the moment. My hands open.

I reply with a soft laugh and a bow.

 

This poem tries to encapsulate my experience with compassion cultivation.  Meditation has provided me with a foundation through which I can reflect deeply on my life–past, present, future. On and off cushion practice has provided me with accessible ways to shift and transform my thinking, perspective and behavior. These shifts, these transformations support my effort to live a compassionate life and to bring compassion into the world.

The beauty of compassion cultivation is within our interdependence. When we cultivate compassion within ourselves, we bring it to those around us. When we bring compassion to our interactions with others, we nurture the seed within. Compassion cultivation is a challenging practice as it requires us to be willing, even a little bit, to see ourselves and to begin to know, connect and love ourselves. It challenges us to learn how first to see and then be with others’ suffering in a way that reinforces our interdependence. Compassion can connect us in such a powerful way that together we can all fully experience life and its beautiful messiness. 

Please go to the Meditations tab to access resources. Also, please forward to me other resources that you have found helpful.

 

Growing Kindness in Our Families & Classrooms

Try to perform a simple act of kindness every day ~ Sharon Salzberg

 

Last year on Thanksgiving, my kids and I created a December Acts of Kindness Calendar. My hope was to cultivate kindness in my children. This experiment turned out to be an effective way for me to talk about kindness with my kids–what it looks like, how it makes us feel, and why it is important. 

Since doing this calendar last year and trying a few different methods throughout this year, I have a learned a few things. I applied these tips for this year’s calendar (see below). So far so good! Here are 6 tips to growing kindness in our children or students:

  • Let the kids take an active role in creating this calendar. Kids can be the scribe, they can design the calendar, and most importantly, they help determine the act of kindness for that day. It is important that this activity comes from them with your caring guidance.
  • Keep the act SIMPLE! Everyone likes to feel successful, especially when they are learning and trying new things. Help your kids to identify simple acts like “high five a friend,” “help a classmate,” “thank the custodian.” You can search for acts of kindness for kids and find tons of lists online that you can use as idea starters. 
  • Clearly display the calendar. Fortunately, I have a space next to my front door where I hang the calendar. We walk by it all the time. It is helpful to keep it in view as a reminder.
  • Talk briefly about the act before and after. Every morning, the kids and I look at the calendar and talk briefly about the act (when they might do it? If they’ve done it the other day?).  Most days this takes just a couple of minutes.  After school, we briefly discuss if they engaged in the act, what happened, and how it made them feel. 
  • Low pressure. Avoid associating external rewards with completing the act of kindness. The point is to help children access their natural capacity to be kind and to foster their ability to notice kindness. If your child or student forgot to complete the act of kindness, tell him or her that it is okay. Suggest he or she engage in it with you, a sibling, or a classmate. Or, ask if they engaged in another act of kindness or saw someone act kindly. 
  • Be a model. Many of the acts of kindness your children or students choose for the calendar can be completed by you too. Share your experience with them. This builds a connection between you and your children/students. It provides them with language to describe kindness. Also, it just feels good! You will notice a change in your perspective too.

I hope these tips support your effort to grow kindness in your family and in your classroom.  One of the most beautiful results of this interaction with my children is that kindness has become a central value in our lives.  Not only have my children benefited, but so have I. 

May you know kindness.

IMG_20171129_192506554

The Courage to Be With Suffering

Currently, I am reading Pema Chodron’s book The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.  Her words remind me that we all experience difficult times in our lives. This is a part of being human. She also illustrates through her beautiful discussion of loving kindness and compassion meditation practice that to live fully means becoming aware of how we relate to this discomfort, not to deny or avoid it. She raises this question, “How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day?”  If you are like me, you have spent much of your life trying to avoid discomfort. This, too, is a natural part of being human.  Yet, “[w]hen we touch the center of sorrow, when we sit with discomfort without trying to fix it, when we stay present to the pain of disapproval or betrayal and let it soften us” we awaken to life, we cultivate bodhichitta (an opened heart-mind). Click here for Pema Chodron’s discussion of bodhichitta.

As I deliberately cultivate a compassionate recognition of my relationship to painful emotions, I experience a softening and at times feel truly alive. Of course, this is not at all easy.  Some days I feel joyful, can be present and open to experience.  Other days and sometimes weeks, I feel the weight of suffering and struggle with being with what is. This is true for me right now as I try to cultivate compassion for myself and loved ones in the face of my father-in-law dying of cancer.

Experiencing loss, watching a loved one die, is simply a part of life.  Yet, it is an extremely unpleasant part of life, one many of us try to avoid.  I am anxious about being unable to manage my grief and the grief of my loved ones once my father-in-law passes. It is the claustrophobic nature of communal sadness that frightens me. This fear is causing me a lot of suffering. In practicing loving kindness this week, I’ve been reflecting on my sense of purpose: In my heart of hearts, what do I really want in my life? At this moment, I want to cultivate the courage to be present for my loved ones’ suffering.

Mindfulness and compassion practice is a courageous act. It requires a daily motivation to train the mind and body. It requires us to be gentle with our imperfections and to believe we can always begin again.  This is not easy.  Recently, my daily intention has been to be a friend unto myself, to give myself the love and care needed during this emotionally painful time.  It is hard to be with yourself, your pain, when your instinct is to run and hide.  Nonetheless, I continue to sit on the cushion every day even though my mind wanders to the point that I forget I am even meditating.  In an effort to let my mind be as it is, I have noticed a deepening of my awareness, a disruption of habitual habits in dealing with discomfort.  I have become more capable of responding lovingly to this experience.  This acknowledgement cultivates my courage.

Just this morning I told myself it is time to resurrect the gratitude journal. Identifying what is already good for us in the moment helps us soften expectations of how life should be.  Cultivating joy is a form of self-compassion, an act of courage. In searching the Greater Good Science Center website, I came across https://www.thnx4.org, an online gratitude journal. I have committed to a 10 day challenge where I share privately or publicly my gratitude for the day.  “Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite,” writes Pema. “It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s [of compassion] world.”  This simple act of choosing to find joy in the moment will strengthen my courage to be with suffering.  Already the fog is clearing.

May you be a friend unto yourself.  May you be free from suffering.  May you experience peace and joy. 

 

 

 

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.