September 2012

12 Exercises for Mindful Parenting

12 Exercises for Mindful Parenting

by cheryl on September 21, 2012

in 2mindfulmoms

We all know that parenting can be a challenge.  Many of us have undergraduate and advanced degrees and have continued our professional training, but it is rare to find a course in what is arguably our most important job – parenting.  So, we at 2bpresent, hope to pass on to you any helpful bits of advice that we find along our journey on how to become a better parent.  In the book, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn offer the following exercises that are wonderful tools to make our jobs as parents a bit easier and, perhaps a bit more rewarding and fulfilling, even at the most difficult moments.

12 Exercises for Mindful Parenting:

  1. Try to imagine the world from your child’s point of view, purposefully letting go of your own. Do this every day for at least a few moments to remind you of who this child is and what he or she faces in the world.
  2. Imagine how you appear and sound from your child’s point of view, i.e., having you as a parent today, in this moment. How might this modify how you carry yourself in your body and in space, how you speak, and what you say? How do you want to relate to your child in this moment?
  3. Practice seeing your children as perfect just the way they are. See if you can stay mindful of their sovereignty from moment to moment, and work at accepting them as they are when it is hardest for you to do so.
  4. Be mindful of your expectations of your children and consider whether they are truly in your child’s best interest. Also, be aware of how you communicate those expectations and how they affect your children.
  5. Practice altruism, putting the needs of your children above your own whenever possible. Then see if there isn’t some common ground, where your true needs can also be met. You may be surprised at how much overlap is possible, especially if you are patient and strive for balance.
  6. When you feel lost, or at a loss, remember to stand still and meditate on the whole by bringing your full attention to the situation, to your child, to yourself, to the family. In doing so, you may go beyond thinking, even good thinking, and perceive intuitively, with the whole of your being, what needs to be done. If that is not clear in any moment, maybe the best thing is to not do anything until it becomes clearer. Sometimes it is good to remain silent.
  7. Try embodying silent presence. This will grow out of both formal and informal mindfulness practice over time if you attend to how you carry yourself and what you project in body, mind, and speech. Listen carefully.
  8. Learn to live with tension without losing your own balance. In Zen and the Art of Archery, Herrigel describes how he was taught to stand at the point of highest tension effortlessly without shooting the arrow. At the right moment, the arrow mysteriously shoots itself. Practice moving into any moment, however difficult, without trying to change anything and without having to have a particular outcome occur. Simply bring your full awareness and presence to this moment. Practice seeing that whatever comes up is “workable” if you are willing to trust your intuition. Your child needs you to be a center of balance and trustworthiness, a reliable landmark by which he or she can take a bearing within his or her own landscape. Arrow and target need each other. They will find each other best through wise attention and patience.
  9. Apologize to your child when you have betrayed a trust in even a little way. Apologies are healing. An apology demonstrates that you have thought about a situation and have come to see it more clearly, or perhaps more from your child’s point of view. But be mindful of being “sorry” too often. It loses its meaning if you are always saying it, making regret into a habit. Then it can become a way not to take responsibility for your actions. Cooking in remorse on occasion is a good meditation. Don’t shut off the stove until the meal is ready.
  10. Every child is special, and every child has special needs. Each sees in an entirely unique way. Hold an image of each child in your heart. Drink in their being, wishing them well.
  11. There are important times when we need to be clear and strong and unequivocal with children. Let this come as much as possible out of awareness, generosity, and discernment, rather than out of fear, self-righteousness, or the desire to control. Mindful parenting does not mean being overindulgent, neglectful, or weak; nor does it mean being rigid, domineering, and controlling.
  12. The greatest gift you can give your child is your self. This means that part of your work as a parent is to keep growing in self-knowledge and awareness. This ongoing work can be furthered by making a time for quiet contemplation in whatever ways feel comfortable to us. We only have right now. Let us use it to its best advantage, for our children’s sake, and for our own.

Excerpted from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

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Weekly Wisdom #16

by cheryl on September 21, 2012

in Weekly Wisdom

“The journey is the reward.”

– Chinese proverb

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Taking the Om on the Road

Taking the Om on the Road

by cheryl on September 21, 2012

in Healthy Living

We are thrilled to have an ever-growing community of like-minded people right here in Westchester, with whom we are traveling along our journey in meditation and mindfulness.  Our dear friend, author and New York Times reporter, wrote about the positive impact that her meditation pracitce has had on her life in Taking the OM on the Road.  We hope you enjoy it!

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The Journey is the Reward

The Journey is the Reward

by cheryl on September 21, 2012

in Meditation

During this crazy time of “re-entry” into our “back to school” schedules, the relaxation of summer vacation seems to fade quickly into the stress of school, the pressures of work, and the chaos of our busy lives.   It is often helpful (and often necessary) to pause and refocus a bit to get a healthier sense of what in the world we are doing all of this running around for.  By looking at some age-old words of wisdom we can put things in perspective.  So, let’s take a deep breath, chant “Om” and think for a moment about the ancient Chinese proverb, “The journey is the reward.”

Often, we get so caught up in how to get to where we want to go that we fail to learn from and enjoy all that life has to offer us along the way.  It is helpful to remember that it is not our destination that really matters in the end, but how we got there. We may never even reach that particular destination and end up somewhere else entirely.   Wherever our path may lead, it is in our travels along the way where the real living, loving and learning happens.  Sure, goals are important, but it is the bumps in the road, the flat tires, the wonderful downhills and the surprises along the way that make the journey so valuable and the destination that much more rewarding once it is reached.

It is helpful to remember this as parents, as we race our children off to school, then get them from school to their music lessons or team practices, all while trying to get a healthy dinner served sometime in between and homework done before bedtime.  When feeling frustrated by all the running around that we do, we can’t help but ask ourselves, what is the point of all of this?  In those instances, remember that is not the goal of becoming a concert musician or a professional athlete that really matters.  (The reality is that few of our children will become professional musicians or athletes.)   Rather, it is the incredible experiences that they are so fortunate to have and that we are blessed to be able to provide for them, that enrich their lives so deeply.  It is the practice and discipline in doing these activities, the great knowledge they gain from their interaction with their teachers, coaches, teammates and friends, the ability to overcome their fears, the perseverance they learn from trying again and again, the joy in lending or receiving a helping hand, and the feeling of satisfaction they get when they know they have done their best and that they are loved no matter what the outcome, this is their journey and their reward.

Similarly, as parents, we must remind ourselves that it is not just setting goals and achieving them that matters most in life.  If we are always looking for our reward in the achievement of our own goals or in the goals that we have set for our children, we may find that reward elusive.  The real challenge (and joy) comes in knowing when to lead and when to follow along on the path, in getting to know your child and in being there for them along the way, wherever their path may lead them.  That is the real goal in parenting.  Simply being present for a child on the long car ride home after a disappointing game, lending a shoulder to cry on when things don’t go well at school, listening with an open heart when there is something on their minds, laughing out loud together, filling with pride when watching your child’s achievements, these are the rewards of parenting, this is our journey.  Learning to appreciate these precious moments as they come and being present for them is an incredible gift to both parent and child.

It is also important to remember that there is great value in doing nothing at all – no plans, no running around – in trying not  to do so much, but rather in just being.  If you think of your life as a kayak trip, there are times when you need to paddle , times when the current will push you in directions you never intended to go, and times when you need to be still, rest, and simply take in all the beauty around you.  Most important is to enjoy the ride, wherever your destination may be.

 

 

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