Where’s the best place to go to get inspiration? An art gallery or a windswept mountainside? A busy café or train station? Does lots of noise help? Or is it more productive to be in silence? Or perhaps we get inspiration through an activity like walking, running or cycling? Or perhaps just curled up on the sofa at home?
We can spend a lot of time and energy searching and searching to find the answers we need. We think and think, we try stuff out, we think again, we talk with people. We are constantly looking ‘out there’ for the solution to our dilemma, our malaise, our queries. It’s easy to get distracted taking action trying to find what we’re looking for. And for all that, we might not be any the wiser. But sometimes the answer is right under our nose. Taking a pause, a moment simply to sit and reflect. With no agenda. With little or no conscious thought. In our busy lives, how often do we permit ourselves to do that? Probably never. Or at least rarely.
With our children too. We are busy cramming their lives with swimming, tennis, music lessons, and educational trips in the holidays and at weekends. Of course, all these activities are laudable and there are benefits both physically and mentally. But sometimes, it’s just good to sit and ‘be’ with a child. As our children grow up, teaching them the skill of being still and reflecting is valuable. Much is (correctly) written about mindfulness and how it can nurture the spirit, re-energise us, and re-set our focus. And there are some fantastic programmes to help children get started with mindfulness. The introduction of meditation or mindfulness in place of school detention is to be praised, and the early research is proving its value. But there’s a danger of mindfulness being just one more activity that we insist our children engage with.
That’s why just taking a moment to chat quietly, or simply share the same space, with a child is the easy and accessible, no cost alternative. No devices, no TV, no book even. Just you and him or her. (And if you have a dog or cat to focus energy, even better). What a way to validate the very essence of that young person – not what they’re doing, not what they’re achieving, not what they’re saying. But to validate them. As a person. Perhaps the answer is on the sofa at home after all.