anchoring

Give Yourself a Time Out!

Give Yourself a Time Out!

by cheryl on April 2, 2012

in Healthy Living

The Time Out is a disciplinary tool used by parents to correct bad behavior.  The idea is to send a child to a particular place so that he can think about his bad behavior, or simply feel the consequences of misbehaving by having to sit still, quietly and alone for a few minutes (or what seems like an eternity for a young child).  Yet, a new way to look at the Time Out, is to give our children the opportunity to have some quiet time, in a peaceful place, to regroup and calm down, rather than separating or isolating the child as a form of punishment.  Linda Lantieri, author of Building Emotional Intelligence, Techniques To Cultivate Inner Strength In Children, encourages parents to create a space where a child can have a “time in,” a peaceful place where the child can take a break from whatever may be upsetting him, where he can foster his own ability to calm down, reduce stress, quiet anger or eliminate frustration.  This ability to find that inner peace and quiet when faced with adversity or challenges is an incredibly important skill for our children to develop, and for us to nurture in ourselves as well.

As adults, I think we all need to give ourselves a Time Out (or a Time In) at least once a day, not as a form of punishment, but rather as a reward.   In a world full of noises and distractions, it is very difficult to find any quiet time during the day.  Most of us start our days in a great rush, hurrying the kids off to school and rushing to work.  And that is just the beginning.  The frantic pace, noises and distractions just keep coming — we have iPods playing, radios buzzing, kids screaming, co-workers gabbing, phones ringing, text messages beeping, e-mails blinking, and televisions blaring.  It is no wonder that with all of this external stimulation our minds are racing and unfocused.  We are so busy trying to digest and decipher all of this noise that we often end up irritable, distracted and stressed out.

I remember when my children were little, my house was a cacophony of little voices needing something, Elmo’s World playing on the television, and at least one child crying.  During those days, the peace and quiet of my tiny clothes closet seemed appealing to me as a secret getaway from the noise.  I would think, “Would anyone even notice if I went inside for a few minutes and shut the door?”  The idea of five minutes of peace and quiet sounded quite nice to me, even if it was in my closet.  Back then, even the stillness of my bathroom was a pleasant break, until the pitter patter of little feet entering the bathroom and at least one child demanding my attention, with complete disregard for my need for a minimal amount of privacy, would inevitably turn what is usually considered a very personal space into a public forum for all to enter.  (Oh the joys of motherhood!)

The challenge then, as it is now, is to find that peaceful and quiet space for even a short time each day to gather our thoughts, center ourselves and feel a sense of calm and OK-ness that we all need.  Taking a personal Time Out could mean a quiet walk outdoors, with no cell phone calls or music playing, and simply noticing how still and quiet the trees are.  Connecting to nature offers us an amazing sense of stillness and calm.  It could also mean turning the radio OFF in the car for a few minutes and simply enjoying the calm of a quiet car ride, rather than driving with the music playing or the distraction of disturbing news stories stealing our attention.  Your Time Out could also be closing your office door for five minutes, and simply shutting your eyes and breathing.  Try it and you will see that this simple act of giving yourself a Time Out can break the chain of noise and distraction that seems to build up throughout the day.  It is also very helpful to take a Time Out in the heat of the moment before hitting send on an angry e-mail or before responding unkindly to someone in a manner you might later regret.  In those instances, a little Time Out can be incredibly useful to pause before acting, to collect your thoughts and to settle your emotions.   It is in the quiet and stillness of our Time Out that we can have the opportunity to regroup and reset ourselves, and quiet our minds so that we can continue on with clarity and a sense of calm.  So, tomorrow, Time Outs for everyone!

 

 

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Our Greatest Teachers

Our Greatest Teachers

by cheryl on March 19, 2012

in 2mindfulmoms

I had always imagined that I would one day be a wise old lady, imparting profound words of wisdom about life and teaching my children how to navigate through it.   After twelve years of motherhood, I now realize that I have learned more from my children than I ever could have imagined.  They have become my greatest teachers.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did whatever I could to learn about the big job ahead of me – motherhood.   I took Lamaze classes and bought all of the latest books on pregnancy, sleep training, parenting philosophies and childhood illnesses.  After many months of preparation, I went to what would be my last OBGYN appointment only to learn that the baby had flipped himself to a breach position and that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.  I would need a c-section the next day.   At that moment, all of my planning and preparation for the way I wanted this birth to happen was down the tubes – no Lamaze breathing, no natural childbirth, no week to finish work and prepare for his arrival.

Similarly, after he arrived, all of my plans to mold and shape this little bundle of joy into a well-scheduled, sleep-through-the-night baby were also quickly forgotten.  No feeding schedules, no regular nighttime routines, no sleeping through the night were in our future.  Up to this point in my life, I worked hard in school and got good grades, worked hard in my job and got good performance reviews, and worked hard to keep my life well-planned, setting goals for myself and achieving them.  But this new role, motherhood, was going to be different.  The first lesson that I learned from my son was that despite my best efforts and best-laid plans, I was not in control.

The next lesson came quickly as well.   Much to my surprise, I learned that my role as a mom was not to shape and mold my children into the people I wanted them to be.  Instead, I would have a much different, more passive role in their development.   I have learned that my job is to love and nurture them, keep them safe from harm and simply watch them grow.  Parenting is like planting a garden.  We can water our plants to help them grow, add fertilizer to make them strong, and put them in the sunlight to help them thrive, all while trying to protect them from the dangers of hungry birds, animals and insects, but we cannot determine what type of plant will grow.  That is up to the seed itself.

Then came the most intriguing lesson of all.  My children are chock-full of great insight and wisdom.  All I have to do is be sure to listen.  When my son was four years old, he would cry and cling to my legs each morning at drop off, pleading not to leave him.  This routine broke my heart every day, until one day he looked into my eyes while I was giving him one last tight hug good-bye before the tears would begin to flow, and he said, “I’m OK mommy.  Just go.”  It was then that I realized through his simple, but incredibly insightful words that it was me who was having a difficult time letting him go and that he would be OK without me.

These words of wisdom from our children are everywhere if we just pay attention to them.  One rainy morning, on our way to school, I remarked to my children, “What a yukky day!”  My littlest child quickly replied, “It’s not yukky, it’s just raining.”  I have never looked at a rainy day quite the same since then.

More recently, my seven year old asked me if her Nana would be OK after she was diagnosed with cancer.  I replied, “I certainly hope so.”  My son then piped in, “You know that you can get very sick from even a common cold.”   To which my youngest child thought for a moment and then said, “Oh . . . (pause)  . . . what’s for lunch?”  This may sound like a silly conversation, but I found it to be quite profound.   As I listened to this exchange, I thought to myself, what a great way to look at life – to recognize that things happen which are completely out of our control and that often all that we can do is simply hope for the best and try not to worry so much about that which we cannot change, but instead live in the moment.  If only our minds could stay as clear and uncomplicated as the mind of a child.

As adults, we often dismiss our children’s insights as naïve and think that they are simply unable to comprehend the significance of the situation.  But instead, I think that we, as adults, often spend too much time worrying about all of the possibilities of what might be, making everything so complicated, and forgetting to notice what is right in front of us.

Our children have a magical way of staying connected to themselves and to the world around them.  We can all learn from them how to once again look at life with eyes untainted by judgment, cynicism and worry, to let go of our need to control what is or what will be and, instead, to live fully in each moment and enjoy the simple things that can be so amazing and so beautiful if we take the time to notice them.

 

**One of the most beautiful essays I have read about parenting is All My Babies Are Gone Now, by Anna Quindlen.  She writes from the perspective of having already lived through the ups and downs of mothering young children, and her insights looking back at those years are powerful.  She has inspired me to think more about parenting and about what parenthood is really all about.  Please check out her thoughts on parenthood by clicking here.

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Reset

Reset

by cheryl on February 14, 2012

in Meditation

Yesterday, my computer stopped working.  I was sitting with many different screens open all at one time — writing, researching, and communicating.   Suddenly, the computer screen completely froze.   The mouse wouId not budge and my heart slowly sank.  I began to panic.  Would I lose all of my work? Were all of my documents, pictures and what feels like the archives of my life gone forever?  I was desperate to save it all, and with no other ideas in mind to resolve the problem, I did what I try not to do at all costs – I called the computer help line.  I usually try to steer clear of calling for help because I so often get even more frustrated by the long waiting times before I can actually speak to a human being on the other end of the line, and because I fear that after a long ordeal on the phone they will conclude that they cannot help me.

I decided that I had no other option.  So, I picked up the phone, dialed and was pleasantly surprised to find a very kind and helpful voice on the other end of the line after a not so terribly long wait.  He so gently assured me that he would do his best to help me figure this out.   I thought about how wonderful it was that there was some stranger out there who patiently and happily was willing to help me with my problem.  After going through a myriad of exercises to get my computer out of this frozen mess with no success, the kind gentleman on the other end of the line had one last suggestion.  He asked me to simply unplug my machine and let it rest quietly for a few minutes.  After all that we had tried, and the potentially devastating possibility that my computer was unfixable, was he really serious that the solution could be so simple?  I then remembered a few months back when my cell phone was doing very strange things and I was also told to simply turn the power off for a few minutes – let is rest.  In that case, and I soon found out in this case as well, that five minutes of quiet for my incredibly overloaded and overworked machine did just the trick.  It revved back up after a much needed respite and started up again, good as new.

Just like our laptops, desktops, cell phones, and smartphones, sometimes we just need to reset.  We get overloaded with information, overcome by the demands on our time, confused by the conflicting feelings and emotions running through our brains and overrun by exhaustion and the physical toll that all of this takes on our bodies.  We need to unplug, to reset, to spend a few minutes in quiet and stillness.  Sometimes just focusing on our breath, on how the simple, natural breath feels in our bodies, is just the reset we need to recalibrate.  In doing simple breathing meditations, we find our calm center and peace of mind and body that will help us restart and continue on our path.

It is so important to pay attention to our physical clues as well, which are often less obvious than the complete shut down of a frozen computer screen.  Our bodies have a way of telling us that we need a reset.  Whether it is tension, muscle ache, pain, stomach upset or fatigue, often our bodies are telling us that we are overloaded and that we need a break in our circuitry, a reset.

It amazed me how my computer, which is so complex and has so much power in helping me to create, to communicate and to learn, could benefit from a simple reset.  Just like our bodies and our minds, which are so incredibly complex, and which hold the ultimate power in creativity, learning and love, we all need a little reset once in while to reconnect with ourselves and that inner calmness that we all have inside.  We just need to unplug from the external stimuli for a bit, take a break from the internal chatter of our minds, and reconnect to that calm, peaceful stillness that is deep inside us all.

The man on the other end of the line suggested that I turn my computer off periodically to prevent this overload from happening again.  I am taking his advice.  Great advice for my computer and myself.  So, just turn it all off for a minute or two, or twenty each day.  Avoid the frozen screen and reset.  Simply breathe.   It is amazing what this can do for us all.

 

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The Smallest of Gestures

The Smallest of Gestures

by joanna on January 20, 2012

in 2mindfulmoms

It always amazes me how the smallest of gestures can come to mean so much.  It is those moments that I pull myself back to when my day spins out of control.  As a busy parent, sometimes we are caught running between so many things and those small gestures or moments between things can be as anchoring as the breath.  Today, after giving a group of kids a lift somewhere on a very cold day, my daughter turned back to me after she had already left the car and looked me in the eyes and simply said “Thanks so much.”  It was three short words, but the eye contact and the fact that she turned away from her group of friends and turned towards me meant the world to me.  Since I have been working on being more mindful and present, this moment energized me with the beauty that it contained.  How many moments do we miss because we are not mindful and present?  Take notice of the small gestures and moments with your kids and see if you can use them to anchor you when you feel your day or your energy spinning away from you.

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