Mindful Parenting 101: The Cook – The Example!
Want to teach mindfulness to your children, but stumped about where to begin? Why not start where I always do: in the kitchen?! You can combine a really poignant lesson in mindfulness with an excitement for delicious, nutritious food, and voila, you’ve cooked up a double whammy of yogic goodness!
Simply decide with your children what meal you will prepare together. Take some centering breaths as a family and begin gathering all the ingredients you need. Talk about simply paying attention to all the details of all the ingredients: How does that spice jar feel in your hand? Look at how bright the orange of this carrot is! Can you see all the tiny seeds on this strawberry? Ssshhh, let’s be really quiet and listen to how it sounds as we butter this toast – what do you hear?
A very practical application of mindfulness is to tap into your senses. In meditation we would suggest sitting quietly while breathing deeply and just noticing everything there is to notice in the present moment without any judgment, but rather gratitude. Feel the air on your skin, or as it enters and exits your nose. Be grateful for that air. Hear the cars going by on the street, or the dog barking next door. Be grateful for your community. Etcetera. This same approach can be taken while cooking, and using this method, children excitedly catch on quite quickly. You will be amazed at just how much they notice and the very cool things about their food they are grateful for!
You may also be amazed at how eager they are to try new foods once they’ve been such a part of meal preparation and taken the time to consider the color, aroma, texture of the ingredients and what a miracle it is that they were cultivated in the first place. Your mealtime discussion will undoubtedly grow from here and I imagine your children will be asking to do this again! Consider making this a special weekly family activity. It works with children of virtually all ages. We do this with our 2.5 year old (ok, really she’s more like 2 & 2/3, but she’s not reading this, so I’m probably safe, and we’ve done this with her since she was a wee-thing) and she always surprises me with the amount of unique things she notices that I hadn’t even paid attention to before. Older children are even more astounding in their noticings. They may suggest something else it reminds them of in their life that you were unaware of their knowledge of, therefor spawning an enlightening conversation for the whole family.
Here’s to many-a-mindful-meal!