The question was raised in the midst of a book discussion about simplifying our children's lives and how even small adjustments reap significant benefits. The book that sparked this question is Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M Ross.
The book is powerful in itself as a tool to understand how "too much" effects our children's mood, sleep, learning and general well-being. It lists the "four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast." I realized that it is not just our children that suffer from this but also adults. If we want our children to simplify, than we need to do that too; and not just as parents but for our own selves.
Simplifying is not about removing the clutter of stuff or information. The root of this practice is about creating space so that we can more fully see our authentic selves and live into them. So I asked these parents the question about experiencing peace. The trend in our group was that those with young children do not. The parents who have older (middle school children) did. We concluded that was a legitimate cause and effect: parenting younger children = less peace.
But then I started asking the same question to other folks, people with grown children. I found that the experience of feeling peace did not correlate at all to whether you have young children or not. It really is about how one lives life, how much one prioritizes down time or quiet/reflective moments, and one's personality. I asked people who I was sure they would say 'yes' but did not.
So what does this mean? It means that too many of us have "daily life that feels like triage" according to the book. We are moving from point to point without any rhythm to our day. There is no time set aside for renewal or rest: not sleep but rest. How can we expect our children to calm down and have self-control when we struggle with the same issues? Do we want their lives to mirror ours so closely? Who will model for them what rest and renewal look like in a full and meaningful life?
We all have different ways to fill our well. Here is what I have been doing for the past few weeks.
- Begin my day with only natural light and lit candles. Sometimes I look out the window. Sometimes I read or listen to music. I wish I could do this longer but 30 minutes seems to be a good time for me.
- I attend Morning Prayer at work each day at 11:45-12:00. It sounds like a "no brainer" but many days at that time I am in the middle of a project. I have come to realize that it is more important to pause with my colleagues then finish one more task.
- Mid-day yoga break. At approximately 2:45, I set aside 15 minutes, turn off the florescent lights in my office and do some yoga stretches. It is amazing how only 15 minutes will invigorate my body and calm my mind.
- Finally, at the end of the day I write in my Gratitude Journal. I began this ritual on January 1. I simply write 5 things from that day for which I am thankful. For me it is a helpful way to center my thoughts around all the good in my life.
So I ask you: Do you regularly have moments of peace in your life?