Over time, city living tends to foster a certain degree of disregard for rules and regulations. I am not saying all urban dwellers are lawbreakers, but over the past 15 years of living in DC, I have noticed we tend to take our chances when it comes to things like no parking zones (I'll just be a minute...), or waiting for crosswalk signals (I can see for myself no cars are coming thankyouverymuch!).
But when trying to impart traffic safety lessons to a two year old, things are pretty black and white - and consistency is key. So... when walking with the babe, her father and I follow the rules quite carefully. The learning process has its charming moments: my heart melts when her tiny hand reaches up as we approach an intersection, or when she explains to fellow walkers, "When the pesky red light turns green we can go, go, go."
But it also has its downsides. First there is the actual waiting: Do we really need to wait 64 seconds to cross an empty street?! And the impracticality: who knew how many signals in our neighborhood don't actually work? And, of course, the busy multitaskers (probably me in a former life) who keep walking as they type furiously into their smartphones, often tripping over the pint sized rule follower and glaring at her mama.
Over time, however, I have come to recognize these forced pauses as opportunities to practice mindfulness. When waiting for the signal, I take a deep breath and notice my surroundings and encourage the babe to do the same. Sometimes we count the cars that pass by. Other times we talk about the colors of the flowers and trees in the yards that line the street. Occasionally, we sing (for which I offer sincere apologies to anyone who has shared a street corner with us...). Staying in the moment rather than agitating for what comes next has been a welcome touch-point in my day, and I have found myself waiting for the signal even when traveling alone.
What daily inconvenience can you turn into a mindfulness practice?