Time can stand still when you’re present with a child.
On the beach, I made a sand castle with my two nieces, and I was as much within the playful, creative process as they were.
Young children naturally become engrossed in play – a state of mindfulness. They lose their sense of time. They are absorbed in the present moment.
Building a sand castle with a child may be the most effective form of meditation. Not worrying about creating something that will last forever (Sand castles are always washed away), all your senses are engaged in play for the sake of play, fun for the sake of fun.
Think of the texture of sand between your fingers and the warmth of the sun. Enjoy the senseless silly talk between a playful grownup and a child. Appreciate the joy of living fully in the present and feeling fully connected to life.
Of course, since your normal state of awareness is suspended, you need another grownup – such as a mom – to remind you when it’s time to have lunch or reapply sunblock.
We all need a time out from our usual grownup way of being. If you have a young child in your life, give yourself a treat by playing together – playing catch, making a puzzle, drawing pictures or playing in the park – and staying fully present.
Your happiness exercise for today: Make time for play today. Think of your favourite games or toys as a child. What engaged you the most? What were you able to do for hours at a time? Might those same activities engage you now and bring you into the present moment?
If you can, spend some time fully present in conversation and play with a child you know. They don’t have any special training, and that may be why young children can be the best therapists.