Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Free

3 Mindfulness Lessons We Learned from Our Toddler

Many of the good habits that adults work to develop come naturally to a child. Here's how becoming parents taught one couple to find joy in every moment just like their beautiful baby girl.

Author Image
Contributing Writer

Of course, we were a little freaked out initially. We were about to become first-time parents and had no idea what would happen after the nurse handed us our daughter. We expected crying, sleepless nights, and plenty of dirty diapers. We also knew there’d be quiet times when she ate, slept, or cuddled. But how would we know what we should be doing when, or what we should do next? Where was the manual for this thing??

Mercifully, we quickly learned that you don’t need one. When our daughter, Piper, arrived, she came with her own set of signals that were subtle but real: A hunger cry, a tired cry, a confused look that means, “Hey, you better check the back of my shorts.” What we never could have predicted, however, were the larger lessons Piper would teach us from day one and continue to educate us today, almost three years later.

A guru is born.


Things the Little Guru Shows Us Without Even Trying

Piper, and kids in general, automatically practice many of the mindful habits that we tend to unlearn somewhere on the path to adulthood. Being present. Being content. Not wanting more than we need. Kids display these behaviors without thinking.

The world is a fascinating place through their eyes.

We’re not trying to say that our daughter is some sort of little Buddha—it’s been our experience that most kids do this stuff. Nor do we think that we’re special as parents. We’re just trying to pay attention. When we do, there’s a lot we can discover about our true nature from kids. Our hope is that noticing these behaviors might help us recapture them in our own lives. And maybe if we can help our children see them, they won’t lose them as they grow.

1. Contentment

The Buddha wrote how the word dukkha means great physical or mental suffering. Dukkha has also been described as “the insatiable quality of human experience,” according to mindfulness expert Mark Muesse, Ph.D., a professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s that insidious voice present in every moment that asks: What else? What’s next? Is that all there is?

Contrast that with the look on infant Piper’s face as she notices the birds on her mobile for the first time:

Those are awesome birds.



Perhaps no one finds more wonder in the here and now than children. The littlest things are simply amazing to them. Eckhart Tolle, the renowned spiritual teacher and author of the Power of Now, says you will find great joy in everyday moments when you become more conscious within the present. Kids are so conscious within the right-now that joy is ever-flowing.

You never know what will capture their imagination.

Nearly three years later, we’re still amazed by Piper’s ability to find awe in the seemingly nondescript. On walks through the woods, random flowers or leaves are fascinating to her. We’ll spend minutes standing still whenever one catches her eye. Which leads us to a parenting tip: Never be in a hurry.

2. Mindful Eating

Kids are experts when it comes to food compared to many grown-ups. They tend to stop eating it when they feel full. And until they reach that point, eating is an experience. Piper is most patient and curious at mealtime. Before her first bite, she’ll look over the plate of food in front of her. She may pick up a piece and play with it for a bit or hold it up near her face, smell it, and examine it very closely.

Exploring the taste, texture, and smell of hummus.

This slow and deliberate process can seem inconvenient—and can make quite a mess—but one could also see it as mindfulness at the table. In the book, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, co-authors Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and Lillian Cheung, Dsc, a Harvard nutritionist, explain that part of mindful eating is about engaging all of the senses.

3. Non-Judgment and Non-attachment

“Non-resistance, non-judgment and non-attachment are three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living,” wrote Eckhart Tolle in his book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. Non-judgment and non-attachment are two things that Piper has down pat and we can see how those mindsets are very liberating—and very healthy.

Like many people nowadays, a lot of our friends (and therefore their kids) have moved to different parts of the country. As a result, we only get together a few times a year, which means our kids will go long spans without seeing each other. When they reunite, they aren’t wasting time reading too much into the past, wondering, “What have you been doing so that we haven’t talked in the past three months??” Instead, they are like, “HEY! AWESOME! LET’S PLAY! “

Piper’s mastery of non-attachment also comes out whenever a visiting relative has to leave, or on many mornings when Dad heads off to work. Her reaction to departures involves three steps:

1) Initial protest. She’ll say, “No leave!” and may even start crying.
2) Stunningly fast acceptance. Just when Dad is feeling like the center of her universe, Piper will do a complete 180 out of the goodbye hug and say “Ok, bye!”
3) Total absorption into whatever’s next. “Hey, look, there’s a deer outside!”

Life is a lot more fun when you let go of the past, forget about the future, and find beauty in the moment.


What we can learn from her ability to move on? One door closes, another opens. There’s lots of fun to be had throughout the day while Dad is gone, from coloring with crayons to blowing bubbles to taking nature walks.

Non-resistance, however, is something we’re still working on. Full-disclosure: Sometimes it takes us a half an hour to convince her to get into her car seat, which is especially fun (not) when it happens in a parking lot and it’s snowing outside. Hey, no guru is perfect!

She’s going to be all-in on each of those moments. With her help, we will be too.


Written in collaboration with Natalie Sabin.



Comments (0)

An Expert Guide to Crow Pose

Download Sonima’s comprehensive guide to this exciting “reach” posture and enjoy the benefits of expert instruction at home!

Get the Guide

Load More

Find us on Instagram

  • This is our third week of ‘Thankful Thursday’ in this month of gratitude. #gratitudemonth2019 🙏🏽 Today we give thanks for our health. 
Strengthening the mind-body connection is crucial for our emotional wellbeing, especially during times that may feel stressful. 
Ayurveda, the ancient medicinal system from India, provides some good advice that can help you stay calm and carry on.

See the link in our bio to learn more about Ayurveda’s approach to mental and physical health because they go hand in hand. .

Tell us how you are grateful for your Health. 
We can’t wait to read your thoughts during our November #gratitudechallenge co-hosted by @malasbyemma 📿

Remember to tag us and use #thankfulthursdaysonima 💜

#malasbyemma #gratitudegiveaway 
#nationalgratitudemonth #gratitudechallenge #gratefulheart #gratitudejournal #gratitudeattitude #gratitudedaily #thankfulgratefulblessed #thankfulheart #gratitudepractice #attitudeofgratitude 
#gratefulforlife #gratitudemonth 
#attitudequotes #attitudeofgratitude #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima
  • It’s time to start planning your Thanksgiving menu, and we have 30 clean eating recipes that will tantalize your tastebuds and amaze your guests! 🥧 
Healthy eating may seem like a challenge around the holidays, but the truth is, these crowd-pleasing recipes, made from wholesome ingredients, are worthy of any family gathering. 🙏🏽 .

Discover many vegan, paleo and gluten-free options for you and your loved ones to enjoy! ✨
Click on our bio link to start planning your grocery list! .
Article by Clean Eating Expert and Chef @amievalpone 
#veganthanksgiving #paleothanksgiving #glutenfreethanksgiving #veganrecipes #paleorecipes #glutenfreerecipes #thanksgivingdinner #thanksgivingcookies #thanksgivingrecipes #cleaneatingrecipe #cleaneatingideas #cleaneatingaddict #cleaneatinglifestyle #healthythanksgivingrecipes 
#amievalpone #cleandiet #eatingclean #antiinflammatorydiet #flightinflammationwithfood #vegetarianrecipes #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices #balancediet #mindbodyconnection
  • No one likes needles—until they've tried acupuncture! 
In this article (linked in our bio) we take a closer look at how this ancient Chinese practice works and why it's giving new meaning to healthcare. 
Read the full article in our bio link. 📍
#painfree #painfreeliving #acupuncture #acupunctureworks #acupuncturelife #mondaymotivation #mondaymornings #focusonwhatyouwant #healingenergy #bodytransformation #mindmedicine #mondayinspiration #mindbodyconnection 
#yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #alternativemedicine #tcm #healthylifestyle
  • This weekend try these gluten-free Vegetarian Fajitas with guacamole! .

Our wellness expert Amie Valpone @amievalpone shares another healthy, detoxifying recipe to make your body feel good.

Simply sauté a few vegetables, mash avocado with fresh lime juice and garlic to make guacamole, and if you like, thin some hummus for a flavorful drizzle to add on top. 🌮

Find the full recipe and ingredient list on our website. Follow our bio link! .
#amievalpone #cleaneatingrecipe #cleandiet #detoxdiet #eatingclean #thehealthyapple #resetyourbody #antiinflammatorydiet #flightinflammationwithfood #eatingcleanrecipes #vegetarianrecipes #veganrecipes #veganfoodlovers #veganfood #vegetarianmeals #healthyrecipes #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #balancediet #mindbodyconnection #vegetarianfajitas #veganmexicanfood #veganfajitas
  • Today is the second Thursday of November #gratitudemonth2019 - “Home is where the heart is.” 🙏🏽 On this Thankful Thursday we are grateful for what makes us feel at Home. 
Those spaces and places where we can relax and unwind. The faces of those who make us laugh and love. All the people that we share our joy and sorrow with, because home isn’t just a place, it’s the people who fill your heart. 💗

To really be present and enjoy your home, it’s  important to learn how to truly leave work at the office and create a more balanced, and conscious life with the ones you hold dear. ✨

This week we share an article to help you set boundaries and more clearly define your different roles, so that you can get the most out of the time you have in the home you love. .

Click on the link in our bio! 
We look forward to seeing your thoughts on Home for #thankfulthursdaysonima in our November #gratitudechallenge co-hosted by @malasbyemma 📿

#malasbyemma #gratitudegiveaway 
#nationalgratitudemonth #gratitudechallenge #gratefulheart #gratitudeattitude #gratitudedaily #thankfulgratefulblessed #thankfulheart #gratitudepractice #attitudeofgratitude 
#gratefulforlife #gratitudemonth 
#attitudequotes #attitudeofgratitude #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #homeiswheretheheartis #homesweethome #loveyourhome
  • It’s World Kindness Day! Feel good. Practice random acts of kindness today. 💞

Recently, a Harvard University study demonstrated that even witnessing acts of kindness can produce a positive physiological response in the observer. . . ✨Meaning, when you act with compassion you improve the health of others as well as yourself! 
Do one of these 3 things today:
🔸 Compliment a stranger .
🔸 Give abundantly: Pay It Forward .
🔸 Call on your inner child and spend some quality time with your children

Let us know how it goes in the comments below! . . . ✨Read the article linked in our bio for more ideas on other acts of kindness and for more details on the Harvard University study. .
#worldkindnessday #worldkindnessday2019 #randomactsofkindness #kindnessmatters #bekind #compassionateliving #compassionovercruelty #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #createbalance #createhealthyhabits #brainhealth #mindbodyconnection #introspection #meditatedaily #meditationinspiration #actsofkindness #lovewins
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!