‘Mindfulness’ is a term you may be hearing a lot lately as it is being brought into the light, in response to our stressful lifestyles, and increased alienation from other people, due largely to the use of technology, cell phones, texting, video games to name a few. Mindfulness is paying attention to the here and now with acceptance and non-judgement, (kindness and curiosity). Mindfulness Meditation has been a part of Hatha Yoga Practices for 1000’s of years, so it’s not new, but thankfully is being rediscovered. It’s for all of us, children, teens and adults.
Have you ever found yourself repeatedly telling a child to “stop doing that”! It’s no wonder they either continue doing it, or find some way to avoid not doing it. What we really need to do is teach them “HOW” to stop. This brings it back to you, the parent, to start integrating Mindfulness into your own life, thereby by practice showing your kids how to respond rather than react. By being compassionate first to yourself, you are resolving your buzzing thoughts, which will magically get passed on to others. Try an experiment, pick a time during the day and check where your mind is, past, future or the present?
Many seeds of Mindfulness are planted early in Iife, but need to be tended and nurtured. For instance, as children we lay on the grass starring up into the blue sky, watching clouds, hearing birds chirping, noticing the breeze gently caressing our face. We enjoyed the moment, but most of us never learned how to integrate this into our life. Notice what you are doing already to set an example to children, teens or other adults. What do you do daily for self-care, relaxation and reflection? Our children also need to be encouraged to have “self” time to reset. As parents, we spend hours driving our children to countless extra-curricular classes and sport activities, as well as driving ourselves to run to workout practice on the way home from work, texting frantically to communicate and at end of the day feeling more burned out than ever. Through Mindfulness practice we can learn to stop, STOP, Take a breath, Observe and Proceed. We sometimes don’t realize that all of the extra’s we take on can have issues attached, whether it’s with a coach, a team mate, feeling inadequate, comparing oneself to others, and so on.
So the tough parts of the day don’t always end after school, they can confront us wherever we go and whoever we interact with. Coming from a place of mindful self-compassion, checking in throughout the day to appreciate the taste of food, noticing your body, noticing where your thoughts are and bringing them back to an anchor - often the breath, but an anchor can be a color, a body part, a word, endless choices. Taking a moment in the morning before checking your e-mail, think of acronym R.A.I.N., Recognize, notice and be with your feelings, Allow, your feelings to be as they are, Investigate, become curious why you feel the way you do, and Notice, the troubled thoughts are Not you, it’s not personal to you.
So, Mindfulness is not about being self-indulgent, weak, selfish, irresponsible, or having self pity. On the contrary, it’s about not beating yourself up when you fail, and be more likely to try again. It’s about taking more responsibility for yourself and family. It increases our perspective and brings awareness that you are not alone. As we take action we gain perspective and empathy for others as well. It has been said that 80% of life is just showing up. All you have to do is SHOW UP, and be in the present! The words “Medicine”and “ Meditation” are both derived from the same Sanskrit word for “Inner Measure”.
Brenna Jacobson, (C-IAYT), Yoga and Trauma Therapy