Mindful with Irene (2)

Irene Smit (46), together with Astrid van der Hulst, is the founder of Flow Magazine. Irene lives with her children (9 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each week, she’ll be writing about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in daily life.

The beauty of being divorced is that I live life more consciously. When I look back, I realize I used to take so much for granted whereas now, I think much more about how I am going to fill my time. Especially the time I spend with my children, which has become much more precious now that they live with their father 50 percent of the time. When I am with them, I am completely with them. I really look at them; detect the small changes in their faces. I take the time to answer their questions about issues large and small, rather than looking at my phone and absent-mindedly saying “because that’s the way it is,” while checking my apps and Facebook messages. Okay, I haven’t suddenly become a “human wonder,” and I know there is room for improvement, but I am happy that I am able to catch up on my time with them so that, when they leave home, I do not feel we have had less time together than we would have had as a traditional family.

Actually, the divorce has really helped me shift from the “doing” mode into the “being” mode. And that’s one of the most important lessons in Mindfulness. In his book, Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) describes it as so: “Most of our lives we are absorbed in doing: in getting things done, in going rapidly from one thing to the next, or in multitasking—attempting to juggle a bunch of different things at the very same time. […] Mindfulness reminds us that it is possible to shift from a doing mode to a being mode through the application of attention and awareness. Then our doing can come out of our being and be much more integrated and effective.”

Whether it is indeed all so effective and integrated, I cannot say, but I’m happy to apply it in my life more and more often. And I look on in amazement at my son, who without any theoretical knowledge of Mindfulness, also puts that “just being” into practice every day. But then again, I think it may simply be puberty in his case…

Illustration: Marloes de Vries