read my original article at IAmModern.com

You may have heard a great deal about mindfulness lately and wondered just what it is.  Mindfulness, simply put, is the practice of being present.  It is a way of attending to moment you are in and the experience you are having with focus and generally a calm state.  There was recently an interesting article in the New York Times about doctors using mindfulness to reduce stress, improve effectiveness, and prevent burn out.  Not only effective at reducing stress, mindfulness can help you increase the joy and sense of connection within your family.

Mindfulness is not a new concept; in fact we all have been present-focused, or mindful, at some point in our lives.  Whether it is reading to a young child, becoming engrossed in an art project, or a surgeon getting lost in the details of an operation; we have all had the experience of devoting our full attention to the task at hand.  The trick is to learn how to develop the habit of being mindful in our everyday life.  To experience the various moments that happen with our children, spouses, , and even friends with a keen attention to the moment is often easier said than done.   In the hectic pace that most DC area mothers live their life at, it is easy to become so engrossed in our to-do lists and upcoming obligations that we miss the joy of the present moment.

So often our stress levels rise not because of what is happening right now but because of something that happened 2 days ago that we are still focused on or because of  the 10 things that we “must” do before going to bed tonight.  Unfortunately this means many of us live our life on borrowed time, either engaged in the past or the future but missing the important moments happening in the present.  To begin to break free of this cycle and re-engage with the important relationships in your life, I encourage you to take 10 minutes each day and just focus on what you are doing in the moment.  It doesn’t matter if you focus on the mundane task of waiting in the grocery line or you are mindful of the experience of managing a car-load of chattering children on the way to school.  As Dr. Krasner of the University of Rochester said in the NY Times article, “If we can be mindful . . . we can derive a greater sense of meaning from even the most demanding situation.”  And what could be more demanding than motherhood?!