As parents, we are always looking for the best for our children; we want them to be happy and develop their full potential. But what happens when we do not live in the best way possible? By being stressed, worried, hurried in our daily life, we set this example to our children. Kids are like sponges, and they can perceive emotions even from within the mother’s womb. This means they’re much more capable of absorbing and perceiving things after they are born. So, how can we be better with ourselves and transmit the best to them? Continue reading to learn more…
Have you ever gotten home and don’t remember what you saw on the road? Left home for work and don’t remember if you locked the door on your way out?
We live with routines both at home and at work where we do things on autopilot without really paying attention to what we are doing. We call it “lunchtime”, but is it if we are thinking about the pending errands we have to run or we are answering mails or texts on the phone?
As human beings we have the ability to think about the past, present and future. Which is a true blessing, but we often let our minds wander to the meeting board of last week, we think about what we’ll do over the holidays or what you have to get from the store. Usually the most recurrent thoughts in our minds come from obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. So, what happens to the present?
Have you thought about the room or space in which you are now? How’s the temperature? What does it smell like? How does your body feel? Is it relaxed? Do you feel any discomfort? Does your stomach feel empty or full? All these thoughts, sensations or stimuli are situated in the present. By living in the present we practice “mindfulness”, being aware of the here and now.
Many people think that mindfulness can only be practiced through meditation. With that point of view and a life filled with errands and activities, we think that we don’t have time to meditate. That is not true. Yes, one way to practice mindfulness is through meditation, but it is not the only way. The goal of mindfulness is to increase our awareness of our surroundings and make us more conscious of what is happening in that moment. So, it can start off as an exercise we practice during the day and then the goal would be to turn it into a new way of thinking. Only then, we can observe our thoughts without judgment and accept what is happening now.
Numerous studies of national institutes of health and universities, including Harvard, have proven that practicing “mindfulness” helps us feel more satisfied and happy with our lives. By being well with ourselves and happy with our lives, we can spread and share this with those around us.
Experts state that mindfulness:
- Enhances the neurological process of the executive functions.
- Improves the relationship with yourself and with others.
- Increase concentration, creativity and clarity.
- Increase positive emotions.
- Reduces stress.
- Improves sleep and rest.
- Reduce muscle aches.
- Reduce anxiety, worries and fears.
- Increases mental flexibility.
As parents, practicing mindfulness can improve our relationship with our partner and children. Furthermore, we can gradually introduce mindfulness to them, so we can all live a more conscious and happy life.
How can I start practicing mindfulness?
The simplest way to start is by getting in touch with your senses. Think about the activities that you do on a daily basis in order to get in touch with your senses when performing them. Be aware of them.
- Brush your teeth. What does the toothpaste taste like?
- Have breakfast. What colors do you see on your plate?
- Drive to work. What sounds can you hear outside?
- Take a shower. How does the soap feel on your hands?
- Do your laundry. What do the clothes smell like?
These are some examples of activities that you can do on a daily basis to practice being mindful. These activities are something we can do ourselves and with our kids. Make it a game! See who can see more colors on their food, listen to what kind of animals you can hear outside and how many colors can you see in the sunset.
As mindful parents, we are able to have an awareness of ourselves and be attuned to our children. What activities do you often do where you could begin to be more aware of your actions? What activities do you do with your kids where they could have fun being aware of what they are experiencing?
- Are able to focus and concentrate better.
- Experience calmness rather than anxiety.
- Are more empathic and understanding with others.
- Have skillful ways to respond to emotions and better resolution skills.
Let’s put aside the autopilot and begin having a more conscious way of living!
If you want more information about this subject, check out the following links:
- Nhat Hanh, T. (2011) Planting seeds: practicing mindfulness with children. Parallax Pres: California.