mindfulness for idiots (and children)

by mattmcgotty

           There is no state of mind as paradoxical as that of a college student. This glimpse of adulthood merely acts as a taste of what is to come. For some, this is a substance-filled bender with pesky roadblocks referred to as “classes,” while others are in bed by nine, avoiding finding the clitoris, instead opting to read about it in textbooks. Despite the numerous decisions that a student chooses for themselves, there is no denying how powerless students are in their daily lives.

           Working with children has only inflated this phenomenon in my head, experiencing the countless actions children ask permission for. Hypothetically, there is nothing stopping me from refusing a child from going to the bathroom, expecting them to stay put as the pee slowly travels from bladder to ground, the way nature intended. Who knew I was so influential in something that has nothing to do with my own body. I may be twice their age, but what do I know about their piss?

Childhood was an experience carried out by others’ perception of us, and seeing children living this innocence is bittersweet. All gone in the blink of an eye and a decade later, and what are they allotted? A half-baked illusion of freedom in the form of a higher education that everyone is expected to attend, regardless of intellect, maturity, or passion for a career! It eats away at me to witness human beings living their purest moments without even realizing it; I say as I spend my healthiest years concurrently watching Drag Race spinoffs from 3 different countries.

This compelled me to start teaching mindfulness to children. I suppose there’s comfort in knowing nothing has changed since I was their age, but it never fails to surprise me to see children summarizing their days in a mere sentence when asked about it. The entirety of early education boiled down to a game of Marco Polo resulting in my child running into the pole of a basketball net. Go girl, give us nothing (besides a concussion)! Nonetheless, I figured I could simplify the conscientiousness process and transform these simplistic swingers into sage students. From here, I found an activity that changed everything.

Using all five senses, I found an activity that articulated what it felt like to be in the moment to children. But as I was rehearsing this, I soon realized how genuinely useful this was to my own life. Fuck them kids!! This is about me now. Being this effortful within my daily life has been something I’ve recently been attempting, but using my senses shifted my outlook on life like never before. I was able to translate what I’ve longed to practice within myself to children with eyelash-length attention spans after 6 hours of nonstop instruction during a pandemic, IN THE SUBURBS NO LESS. I could not imagine a larger uphill battle, but with the help of a little tea and constant redirection of their priorities, things have been relatively successful.

I don’t expect this 5 minute google search to be my crowning achievement in mental health, but it has shocked me to see how applicable it has been in my daily life. Each uninterrupted footstep to class, the feeling of a straightened spine, the wafting Grundle smell in Millis on a fish night; it’s all unbelievably real, whether I like it or not. A decade older than children forbidden from climbing trees and I still feel that lack of control in a large portion of my life. But learning to tune into it all, good or bad, has made it exponentially easier to cope with my death sentence coming up this July. I promise you, I didn’t do it.

Categories: 8, April 12, matt mcgotty

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