Babies Have Truly Mastered the Art of Mindfulness
Earlier this morning, I was feeding my 16-month-old daughter, Olga*, at breakfast. She was the familiar, picturesque sight of a ravenous baby, evidently starving after a grueling 11-hour stretch of sleep, shamelessly shoving fistfuls of scrambled eggs into her pudgy little face, blissfully unaware that the amber-colored hair atop her head now donned a greasy coating of butter.
In infancy and toddlerhood, it often seems that two schools of thought emerge around mealtimes. One ascribes to the belief that mealtimes are an experiential, fully immersive opportunity into which we should dive headfirst, much like a mud bath.
Another dictates a more hesitant, reserved approach, as if each plate comes adorned with a placard stating, “Proceed with caution.” Neither eager nor fearless, the latter appear to meticulously calculate each move’s risk versus reward score.
My sweet little Olga belongs to the former cohort of babies. She immerses herself in mealtimes by deliberately embracing the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile sensory experiences with reckless abandon. Leaving no trace of her plate untouched, she eats like there’s no tomorrow.
Infants are born with an innate ability to be in the moment.
Be it their immature little brains, or the absence of advanced cognition, they have a gift. They are exceptionally adept at being mindful — a skill that adults often struggle to master — without even realizing it. Mindfulness, the state of complete presence, seemingly comes naturally to them.
Despite an immature sense of self-awareness, lack of abstract thought, and inability to engage in the higher-function cognitive processes that adult humans thrive on, babies are mindfulness professionals.
Consider the essential tenets of mindfulness. Non-judgmental observance, receptive awareness of the state of things — nothing more, nothing less — and complete, unbridled acceptance of external stimuli.
Simply allowing these stimuli to exist and pass through your plane of consciousness without being consumed by…