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When we talk about being mindful, we start with the breath and move on from there; towards eating mindfully, walking mindfully or driving with intention; listening to our hearts.
When we are parenting children, our hearts are often intertwined with the hearts of our kids as well as our spouses’ heart. Having different interests, needs and priorities gets amplified with the number of personalities that constitute ones family.
My first step towards being a connected parent is being sure that some of my desires are met. Yes, some not all. Since some of my needs are not aligned with the needs of my children or my spouse, I listen to my heart to find the ways that I can balance our needs daily, therefore simplifying our lives.
Hard to do? Yes but possible!
Most adults, at one point in their lives, have struggled with trying to figure out the purpose of their lives or have at least been conflicted about what they should do in certain situations.
Babies are all about exploration and no experience is censored; spreading their legs apart, sucking on their toes and farting with abandon! They are just trying to figure out what their bodies can and cannot do. As they grow older they are more aware of what they do as well as that they can consciously control their body movements and what they want to accomplish. Then we adults come in and qualify their movement, tell them what is good or bad or disgusting, “You should think this,” and “This is how you should handle yourself.”
We want to have civilized children and productive members of society, but we as parents often qualify our children’s action so much that they forget how to just be, be themselves, and have fun learning.
Next time, before you add your wisdom after witnessing a child do something:
- Take a breath.
- Look around you.
- Think about what the child was trying to accomplish.
- If you need to, say something like:” I love seeing you dance like that” or “that is very creative.”
Letting our kids discover who they are without external judgment is a great way to make sure that the child will grow into a more self-assured adult.
Have you ever looked at how little boys rough house? They decide that a placid current of energy in the air is toxic, and they start pilling onto each other, growling, and after a bit of a tussle they are off playing again as gentlemen, just like (the Hindu deity) Durga and her mighty sword. She took the obstacles that were in her way and loved them to death or slashed their heads off.
A couple of years ago, I ran a play group once a week out of my home. A little boy with a French background and who was the same age as my daughter joined us every week. His full name translated was “Throws a Rock.” This boy was raw, raw Durga. My daughter was raw as well but raw with two feet still in the clouds. Quite quickly this boy taught my daughter how to plant her feet and be a Durga.
They would play, he would get mad, she would get upset, he would plant his two feet in the ground bend his knees, growl, put his hands in front of his body, and plow and push. She reciprocated and learned quickly how to move obstacles out of her way. Both would get up happy after working out their tussles and keep sharing the sandbox.
I am not advocating teaching our kids to fight in the sandbox, but sometimes when we let our bodies and minds move obstacles we can learn and find our inner truth. That is one of the things I like so much about the ease that boys can get over a disagreement.
Today at yoga class the teacher asked us to do a dancing practice. We were to freely play within our sun salutations. At one point she said that all our bodies ever want to do is play.
That exercise made me ask myself: when did I start using my body in a systematic way instead of letting myself play and explore?
My daughter can ski well. When she goes down a steep hill, we might ask her how did you do that? She says, “I just did it, I got to the top of the hill and I knew what to do.”
Yet we start teaching young children how to use their bodies – this is where you put your foot to kick the ball, this is what you do when you are frustrated, your arm goes here when you do the breast stroke, and slowly we teach them to stop playing and start doing actions that are linked to their thinking minds.
We end up modeling thinking that leads to moving, rather than teaching moving towards freedom and understanding the way fiery Durga moves through barriers – towards pure knowledge.
Our children are born with an innate understanding based in play, let’s not forget to support that.
Pico Iyer said “ … I’ve stepped out of my daily haze, the somnambulism that is my life!” , in an article I read in Mindful -Taking Time for What Matters.
Last week while picking up my daughter at dance class I stopped to talk with a dad who has a similar routine. He waits twice a week in the same spot for his daughters’ classes to end. He said to me that he felt like he was experiencing the movie Groundhog Day.
Have you had that feeling before? Monday feels like Monday, then Tuesday feels just like last Tuesday, and Wednesday is no different than the one before, and even your weekends are filled with the expected and regular.
To get beyond that place in life sometimes feels like it should happen any day. Anyways, that is what we are told to do – dream big, work hard and we will be rewarded with fame, riches, or talents. But in reality for most of us our life is the one we have chosen to live and will continue to live.
Being stuck is not a great feeling, and as parents we need to model how we don’t hide from the reality of our lives and that moving to see clearly is part of of our routine on this earth. We want our children to have the tools to get out of those moments that feel like we are entitled or stuck.
In the next few blog posts I will try to explore ways that can help us all towards this practice of being mindful and awake to the reality of our lives.
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Ready to make a decision? Maybe about what you should make for lunch, wear to dinner, or how to approach bedtime at your house or gift giving.
Before you make a choice make sure you are living for yourself,
not for others,
not for expectations
not for media
not for your children’s school
not for your church
But live according to what you feel is right for you and your family.
no need to impress the advertisement agencies.
or your in-laws
or the neighbors
Eat that cake, color your hair pink, wear the funky skirt because you like it.
I am always ready to answer your family related questions. Send me an email or set up a time for your free 30 minute consultation.
Language is a difficult topic to cover when thinking about parenting. There are so many different ways our culture uses language, and many families have unique ways of communicating. Most of us know to stay clear of sarcasm, condescending statements, and hurtful tones of voice, but how many of us have thought about the conflicting messages that we can send to our children?
What if we tell our children that they are unique and beautiful on the inside, yet we insist on having our kids leave the house looking a certain way each day?
Or if we talk about loving the planet, saving money, and recycling, but our favorite pastime is shopping?
A friend of mine has the wonderful ability of talking slowly and deliberately. It is beautiful to watch. Yes, at times you want her to get to the point but each of her sentences are intentional and reflect her true thoughts. I, on the other hand, talk and talk until I figure out my point while I talk. I was named the ‘non-stop talker’ in Tibetan by a monk I was visiting in Spain.
Parents refer to their children as their babies. Then soon after they might say something like : “Be a big girl and go potty,” or “Be helpful to your mom,” or “Be a big boy and set this on the table.” Then the same child will be told they are not old enough to do something or told: “You’re too little to stay up late.”
I found that it was helpful to look into my speech habits to see if I was contradicting myself. I have worked hard to teach my daughter to step away and calm herself before reacting by breathing and thinking of a way she can be positive towards an unexpected situation. Yet I often react instantly to her actions or sibling disagreements. I’m working on taking my own advice to her, and trying to calm myself when my children present me with unexpected situations.
Does your language follow the values you instill in your children?
Do your values reflect the actions your children see you do everyday?
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Slowly becoming apparent.
Admit it, to-do lists are nightmares. We make them to remember things that we don’t want to do or have no time to do. Then, we use them to quantify how productive or successful our day was, depending on how many tasks we ended up accomplishing on them. I think most of us need to-do lists to manage the different aspect of our lives, but we should take a look at our dependence on creating them and completing them.
Do most of us put the important things on our to-do list, the things that really make a difference in our life or the lives of those that mean the most to us? Things like; take a walk, play a game with our children or talk quietly on the couch, as friends would, with our spouses? Where should we put the big important things on our list; the ones that have no real end or no real answer?
What do you put on your list and what can you add to it that will not feel like a chore? I encourage you to ad one thing that is 100% gratifying on your to do list a day: meditation time, yoga, walking, drinking tea, reading an article you have been dying to finish, writing a letter to a friend or family member or even your spouse or maybe even looking at old pictures to take a walk down memory lane.
Becoming a parent!
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