The Integrated Mind

How to Stay Mindful, Even When Running Late

4 Morning Practices for Busy Families

The scene opens with an 8 year old boy sitting on the floor in front of the front door. It is morning, and he is untying a knotted shoe that is half shoved on his foot, with a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth, minty, frothy, white drool dripping on his chin and landing on his crisp black sweatshirt, leaving a stain before even leaving the front door…..

Have you seen this movie before? Do you have anyone in your home that stars in a similar plot each morning as the modern family attempts to get out of the door on time?

1. Move fast. Don’t rush.

The difference between moving fast and rushing begins with the intention and emotion fueling the action. Rushing includes stress. Rushing is fueled by anxiety, fear, planning, worrying, and charged expectation. Moving fast can be demonstrated on any track, on any field, on any court, or in any pool during any race. Be the Olympic gold medalist of the morning dash, with no trips, no slips, and no mess ups, by staying present.

The human body is capable of moving fast with intention and purpose, without rushing through each movement. Rushing encourages mistakes and missteps, while mindful movement supports intention and action with a purpose. When we are mindful of our movements, we stay calmer. When we stay calmer we move through our tasks faster and with less mistakes.

2. Accept what is, even if you disagree.

If you have a time machine skip this section. Otherwise, read on.

We accept the things we cannot change. We breathe through it to allow space for wise discernment.

Step #1 described moving fast, with intention and purpose instead of the emotionally charged movement we call rushing. When families are tight on time, it is so helpful to accept the fact that there is not a lot of dispensable time without going over and being attached to all of the reasons why there is not time. Acceptance does not mean that we agree to all of the reasons why we are tight on time. Maybe it is someone else’s fault that you are short on time. Whether the story is true or untrue is irrelevant to the actions necessary to keep you mindful.

Besides, mindful people make each moment count, especially when the moments are action packed and feel short. Spending your short moments pointing the finger at your family doesn’t get you all out the door faster and more efficiently, but following these 4 steps does…

3. Be kind, no matter what. (Even when it IS their fault you are late!)

When trying to get the family out the door, keeping positive can be just as stressful as finding your keys. It is so common to go over all of the things we all did wrong that got us into this late situation….again! Thoughts and demands like “I told you to lay your clothes out last night!” and “Why didn’t I make their lunches yesterday?!?” can proliferate the house and poison the mind. Choose kindness always, especially when you are right about the night time routine that no one is following. You can catch more tardy flies with honey after all…

4. Start with the body.

Kindness may be out of grasp in those emotionally charged moments. So often being kind to oneself can only be accessed only through body awareness.

You can do this by a skillful redirection of focus and energy from the story of why everyone is late, as described above in #3., even if is true, to feeling your feet on the ground and briskly brushing your teeth, or grabbing your keys….whatever task you are doing in the moment. Know what you are doing when you are doing it and the rushing, stress story will quiet down allowing you to focus on each task completely. Focus=less errors=quicker and more efficient movements.

Redirect the family’s energy into the present through action, not discussion of why the family is in the situation you are in.