Mindfulness lessons from babies

I have been doing class visits at infant-toddler care centers and had the pleasure of observing little people playing, learning and interacting with each other. A few common attributes amongst our littlest peers stood out so clearly.

Curiosity — A genuine sense of wonder and awe about everything around them, and a deep curiosity to figure it out just for the sake of knowing. Unfortunately, adult curiosity is restrained by perpetual thoughts of accomplishment and judgment.

Open minded — There is so little differentiation between “good” vs. “bad” and a remote controlled car is just as engaging and welcomed as a piece of crumpled paper. The same is true for people — they only care if you connect with them and nothing else about you really matters.

Fearless — If you have seen a child try to walk, you know what I mean. Innumerable attempts one after the other, no sense of shame over falls or who’s watching — a true lesson in perseverance.

Focused — While adults are trying to meditate for years trying to learn the art of being in the present, it is second nature to children. They are fully immersed in the now. We think it is easy to “distract” a child, but look closer and you will see they are the true mindful experts. They are not distracted, they are only focused on what’s at hand then and there.

Vulnerable — The combination of fearlessness and being open minded is the perfect recipe for vulnerability and while adults shun this attribute, children harness and leverage it to the fullest. Research in recent years has shown that vulnerability is a powerful tool. This is perhaps what makes them so endearing even to complete strangers.

Observing these babies and toddlers was an aha moment for me. Clearly, we all started at the same point with the same behavioral traits. Yet, we condition ourselves to lose these systematically as we grow up only to realize that these are necessary life skills for a happy life.

How can we help our children not live this irony? The next time you reprimand your child in the name of discipline or achievement, ask yourself “am I really honing an important life kill or destroying it?”