I love being a father, but I do get nostalgic for my own childhood. I experienced life so differently back then and every day was full of possibilities. One of the biggest rewards of practicing mindfulness is it allows me to once again experience life through the eyes of a child.
The world felt more real when I was a younger. I wasn’t so afraid of my feelings back then, so I didn’t waste time building mental barriers to hide behind. I also hadn’t yet developed the opinions, beliefs, and other mental garbage that sucks the wonder out of life.
As I child, when I heard a song, I didn’t care about the political, cultural, or religious affiliations of the singer – I just heard the song.
As I child, I didn’t do things on automatic pilot so even brushing my teeth felt like an event.
It is scary how time passes more quickly as I get older, and I believe this happens because I have become increasingly separated from reality. So much of my behavior is driven by habit energy, and my growing store of knowledge just means more filters between me and reality.
Moving from childhood to adulthood is like moving from a clear sunny day to living in a thick fog – with less to grab my attention, it is hardly any wonder that time appears to pass more quickly.
Practicing mindfulness means I can once again see the world like a child. I temporarily escape the stories in my head to just see what is actual there right in front of me. It is a ridiculously simple thing to do, yet it is so easy to forget to do it.
My ability to appreciate the present moment is strengthened when I recognize that most (probably all) of my beliefs and opinions are basically bullshit. It is only by letting these go of these stories that I can get close to seeing what is actually there.
It is possible to go through life and never really be here. My mind just loves to fantasize and get caught up in stories about the past or future – anything other than experience what is right here in front of me.
It scares me how fast my little boy is growing up, but what is most disturbing is how little time I spend with him. I’m not talking here about being physically in the same place. The real problem is I can be standing right beside him, yet my mind is away with the fairies.
I have to make an effort to focus on the present moment because otherwise it means I miss the most precious thing I have.
Some days, I only manage a few moments of being mindful but each of these visits to reality is a gift. I could so easily slip back into my dream fog of modern adulthood and never wake up again. If there is such a thing as enlightenment/awakening, I guess it would mean experiencing this state most of the time.
Play is one way I can reconnect with the present moment. I sometimes pick up one of my son’s toy cars and just try to experience it with the wonder of a child. This makes no sense to my adult mind, but it allows me to time travel and I can see the world through my childhood eyes once again.
Update: I came across this nice YouTube video showing some nice Thai mindfulness exercises (Thai/English subtitles)