When you drive around the city and come to a red light or a stop sign, you can just sit back and make use of these twenty or thirty seconds to relax — to breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy arriving in the present moment. There are many things like that we can do.Thich Nhat Hanh
As school approaches, life will get busier. Many moms are working with seemingly impossible schedules, with very little time to spend peacefully with our children and even less for taking care of ourselves. A local physician at a recent MBSR training session said to me, "Shahin, it's an epidemic! So many 30-something moms are stressed!" It's true. The days fly by in a whirl of activities, lessons, and chores, while we look forward to a weekend or work toward some future time when we might take a vacation — though often we need another vacation after the "busy" vacation.
I have found that cultivating a mindful way of being (a skill that can be learned in our MBSR and mindfulness classes) helps us hold our present moments with ease and allows us to enjoy our children and really savour our days. I often hear the phrase "time flies," but what I've found is that time actually slows down when I'm being mindful and noticing the "now," and asking myself: "What am I doing now? What am I feeling now? What are my thoughts right now?" This allows me to really be present with whatever I'm doing or whoever I'm listening and talking to.
MBSR at Mindful-Changes.com
MBSR is a training program that helps us notice when we are not present and in the moment; it provides skills and techniques to notice our body-sensations, and what we are feeling during stressful moments. It's a powerful tool we can use anytime to stop the "busyness" and really notice what is happening in the present, to turn away from distractions and let our thoughts and emotions flow without judgement.
Mindfulness training lets us enjoy whatever it is we are doing, because with mindfulness, we set an intention to be awake and aware during our busy life. Mindfulness is a practice, and so needs to be cultivated and incorporated into our daily routines, just like eating healthy and physical exercise — and the results can be life-changing.
Here is one mother's testimonial to the changes we can all expect when practicing mindfulness with the whole family.
[Meditation] centers me and brings me clarity. It allows me to be accountable for my actions and to be present in what I do and who I choose to interact with in my daily life. Meditation has even brought my daughter and I closer as if that was even possible :). We discuss it, we practice it together at times and we respect and appreciate what it has done for the vibe in our home.Mari Corona "Living in Mommywood" at Workingmother.com
Anyone can start learning about what it means to be mindful in our homes every day. Try these simple but effective tips. (Keep the following list on the refrigerator if that helps!)
Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?Lao Tzu
10 mindfulness techniques for moms and dads
- Do one thing at a time. Zen proverb: "When walking, walk. When eating, eat."
- Do each thing slowly and deliberately. Take your time, and move slowly. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random.
- Do less. But you're busy and can’t possibly do less, right? You can. It's a matter of figuring out what’s important, and releasing what's not. (For more tips on prioritizing, read Leo Babauta's: The Lazy Manifesto: Do Less. Then, Do Even Less.)
- Put space between things. Don't schedule things close together. Create a more relaxed schedule, and leave space in case a task takes longer than planned.
- Spend at least 5 minutes each day practicing mindfulness. Do this with your kids: Sit in silence. Become aware of your thoughts. Focus on your breathing. Notice the world around you with each of the senses. Everyone can learn to be comfortable with silence and stillness. (I find that this small practice is a great tool for remembering what is important in my life at that moment.)
- Notice when you're worrying about the future. MBSR helps you focus on the present and to become aware and in tune with your body sensations, emotions, thoughts and behaviours — are you constantly worrying about the future? Learn to recognize when you're doing this, and then practice bringing yourself back to the present.
- When you're with your children, be present. How many of us have spent time with loved ones but have been thinking about what we need to do in the future? Or thinking about what we want to say next, instead of listening? Focus on being present, and really listen.
- Eat slowly and savor your food together. Teach kids to savor each bite, and to eat slowly. Interestingly, most people eat less this way, and everyone’s digestion improves.
- Be an example: savor your life. Savor as many moments as you can. As I type this, for example, my kitten Sola is on my lap. She's just sitting here quietly, as the warm August sunshine lights up the room. A lovely moment.
- Make cleaning and cooking become an informal meditation, and enlist the whole family. Cooking and cleaning can be great rituals performed each day as a form of meditation. Make space for others (partners and children) to help. — Adapted from zenhabits.net
Mindfulness training is as close to you as a phone call or email, or simply by visiting Mindful-changes.com.
Learn More about the 8-week Mindfulness Training for Parents
Mindful Changes provides Mindfulness Training for Parents in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Our classes, courses, talks, and workshops are designed to fit your busy lifestyle. Contact Shahin to positively change the quality of your life and, especially, your children's lives.