If I could go back and start my parenting journey all over again, this is the first thing I would change!
If you are anything like me, you feel like your head is holding a thousand different things at once, and let’s face it which parent isn’t, you can start to feel overwhelmed because of all the juggling and multi-tasking and not enough time to do it all!
Do you sometimes have a short fuse?
Feel the weight of responsibility?
Feel unappreciated and defeated?
Or not enough time in your day to really enjoy your kids and everyday events?
When it comes to big events you can feel exhausted at just the thought, because it’s another thing that needs to be done.
Don’t wait for a weekend or a holiday season to slow things down, do it now, bit by bit, moment by moment.
You deserve to go in to each and every day refreshed enough to get the best out of yourself and others.
Since I’ve been practicing mindfulness, it’s weird but I have found it can create some space in my day.
Space to breathe, to calm my central nervous system, to prioritise and to actually feel like life is slowing down.
This quick exercise is a great way to start your mindfulness meditation practice because you don’t need to do anything extra in your day, no special equipment, no scented candles, no sitting posture, no “omming” AND you can do it twice a day.
Like most mindfulness practices it is simple but not easy!
Mindfully brush your teeth! Yep it’s not rocket science, but it is a great place to start!
- Start by stopping. Stop the rushing and notice where you are and what you are doing. I know this is hard when you have little ones taking your focus so maybe start with your night time routine when you haven’t got someone tugging at your leg or screaming from another room!.
- Pause and notice. Tune in to all your senses. Notice the colour of your toothbrush, how it feels in your hand. Notice the feel of the toothpaste, how it smoothly comes out of the tube. The zingy fresh minty smell.
Tune in to touch, the feel of the tap – metal, enamel, plastic, soft, hard. Listen to the running water or the sound of brushing the front teeth compared to brushing the ones at the back or your tongue.
- Notice when your mind wanders, wants to get involved or take over by narrating the whole exercise or criticising that you’re not doing it right. Instead of getting caught in these thoughts, bring your attention back to your senses, leaving your thoughts to float off somewhere else. Thoughts sneak in like when you’re being mindful and watching the water going around the sink and down the hole. Then your mind starts to comment, “gee I really need to clean this sink!” Let that thought go and focus back on your senses. Let go of each thought as it comes. Just refocus back on to the brushing.
You may notice the smell and taste of the minty freshness through the back of the nasal passage. Notice the cool water swishing around in your mouth and the feel of the towel on your mouth as you finish.
Be prepared your mind will wander!
In these 3 short minutes, it is likely that your mind will wander ten times or more. Or it will judge or comment a hundred times. That’s ok, that’s just what minds do.
Just notice it when it happens and bring your focus and attention back to your senses.
You may even get to the end and think to yourself – “dam, I was meant to be focused and I’ve been off thinking of what I need to do today”. That’s ok; start again the next time you brush your teeth. That is the beauty of this exercise, you will always come back to another opportunity to practice.
When you notice your mind wandering and you weren’t focussed on the task of brushing your teeth, that is actually your mindful moment.
It is important to go easy on yourself and start again from that moment. Punishing yourself will only lead you to feeling hopeless and you will give up. This is where you need some kind self-compassion, after all you are human, and the human mind likes to wander.
Practice anywhere, anytime
You can practice mindfulness like this with any task like showering, dressing, folding clothes, making a cuppa etc. I like to do it when brushing my teeth because it involves all the senses and it doesn’t take long. Yes sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t.
So many people say to me that they don’t particularly like brushing their teeth so why would they focus on it. Remember you don’t have to enjoy something to do it mindfully.
Mindfulness isn’t about pleasure, it is about training your mind to stop getting sucked into the mental busyness and juggling.
It is about creating space where you think there is none.
It is about stopping holding so many thoughts that keep you wound tight as a clock.
Give it a go; what do you have to lose?
I have been brushing my teeth mindfully every day for 12yrs and it is rare that I get through the whole 3mins without my mind wandering or judging.
You just keep doing it – that’s why it’s called a practice!