"I just want to freeze time," said my tearful friend. "My kids are so sweet and fun right now, but I know that it's all going to change." She sighed, "I feel like I'm missing these moments because I'm already mourning their end!"
I knew what she meant. My kids are now almost grown but I can remember a time, a particular Christmas, that felt absolutely perfect. I have a photograph of us wearing matching pajamas. I held my children in my lap, an abundance of bright love and blessings full of holiday joy. That particular magic has evaporated, yet the feeling is still with me.
There's just no denying the reality of the saying, "this too shall pass." Still, just because something will end doesn't make it any less valuable. Indeed, knowing that a beautiful moment is temporary can actually heighten its preciousness and create an enduring imprint of pleasure on your brain.
But how, exactly, do you savor the beauty of a moment? Inspired by my book Shortcuts to Inner Peace, here are four mindfulness practices to help truly embrace life's magic even as the sands of time run through your fingers.
1. Expand -- Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness talks about a wonderful practice he calls "taking in the good," in which you intentionally turn good experiences into lasting feelings. He suggests that you intentionally "hold" a good feeling within you, expand it, and absorb it. Focus on the good feeling and imagine it sinking into you, as if you were a sponge. Hold the good feeling for up to 30 seconds to create new neural pathways, a positive imprint of the experience on your brain.
2. Breathe -- Breathe in a good experience with a short, quick inhale. Imagine that you are breathing in the wonder and the magic of the moment. Hold your breath for five seconds and then exhale slowly.
3. Click -- Make a click sound (or wink) during a particularly wonderful moment to mentally capture the image in your mind. Think of it as an imaginary camera in your mind and you are fixing the image in your mind's eye.
4. Perspective -- You can't stop time from moving forward nor can you stop change in its tracks. However, you can remember that every ending has a beginning. When doors close, other doors open. Start to look forward to what the next stage of life will bring. Miracles lurk behind every corner.
There is nothing worse than missing the magical times in your life because you're too busy to notice, too stressed to care, or too sad to experience them. Mindful habits will help you get out of your head and savor life's precious moments.