This past summer, on one of the most picturesque mornings (sunny, dry, and cool), a friend and I went for a hike in Cold Spring Harbor. It was a wonderful, mindful experience. The colors of nature just popped and every hiker and runner we passed was glowing with positive energy. At the highest point of the trail, we could look down and see the water of the inner harbor gleaming like uncut sapphire. The brightest shine, however, didn’t come from the sights or the people on the trail…
After the hike, we stopped in town to recharge over brunch. We chose a cozy, kid-friendly gourmet market/cafe with a huge candy and fudge counter. As we chatted, my eyes kept pulling my attention back to a mother and child who also came in for a bite. The little boy was absolutely adorable. Dressed to the nines, he looked like he could have just stepped out of a children’s clothing catalogue.
Outfit aside, what struck me about him was his face, particularly the eyes. Ice cream in hand, he moved past the candy counter, glowing with complete wonder and contentment. He paused periodically only to tackle the cone in his hand, which he did with complete relish. Not a single care in the world. Completely in the moment. Wide-eyed with wonder and appreciation. A tiny Buddha. The perfect picture of mindfulness… From the corner of his eye he glanced a dessert shaped like a cute monster, dashed over to the candy counter glass, smushed his free hand and face against it, and squealed happily for his mother to come see. My friend and I just smiled.
At this point a profound thought crossed my mind. Imagine if we, as adults, could move throughout our lives with the same wonder and appreciation, free of past regrets or worries about the future. Now of course, adult concerns and responsibilities are realities we need to face in order to function in this world, but when we are not actively engaged in problem solving, why not try to view the world through a lens like the glass of the candy counter?
As a practitioner of mindfulness, I must say that the “kid’s-eye-view” of the world is by far my greatest analogy for mindful perception. Mindfulness courses, books, groups and instructors provide guidance that will improve your practice, provided you do just that; practice. But looking to kids as the embodiment of mindful living is a sweet way for you to reinforce the way mindfulness can improve your overall wellness and happiness. So, how to apply this to life? For one, if you either have, or work with, little children, foster and nurture their sense of wonder whenever possible. Let the weight of the world fall upon them gently if you can. And as for yourself, look to the little ones as models of mindfulness.