Children

a tribute to: sleeping children

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote:

"I have arrived, I am home" is the shortest Dharma Talk I have ever given. "I have arrived, I am home" means "I don't want to run anymore." You need that insight in order to be truly established in the here and now, and to embrace life with all its wonders.

mindfulness in eberyday life

What a powerful sentence. For me it has always been a balance. I like running... well I like being driven, I like the passionate and excited side of me. I like the part of me that creates ideas for every step I take. What I have learned through the years of practice and training is to notice when that isn't serving me, when I no longer fills me up, but is draining me instead. And also learned to see that all that running robs me of the things that really creates a deep connection in my life.

It is so valuable to check and see in the moment what life is. In everyday life what gives me joy, happiness, a sense of belonging and depth aren't things like winning the lottery or running fast - it is the simple things.

Like last night, my oldest was asleep and I went in to tuck her in again. I stopped and looked at her, and she looked so big, yet still with her little baby face. She was so peaceful and cute. I was filled with love and gratitude. It brought me home. I didn't need to run to feel love, I didn't need to run to feel purpose, it was right there in that moment.

Moments like those pop up every day. They're not big sensational moments that will be written down in history. But shit they're valuable. It can be a good laugh, a moment when everyone at the table just shuts up and we are there together no strings attached. It can be that brief touch that let's you know you have been seen. The smell of the crisp Fall air. It is random smiles on the street. It's sitting on a chair by your house enjoying the sunset or dinner with close friends.

We don't need to run.

The art of making magic moments. By Susana Hooper

Analiah is laughing at herself every time she snorts like a pig. Or maybe she's laughing at me laughing at her when she sorts like a pig.  Either way, we can’t stop laughing!” I live for moments like these.  Simple moments that warm my heart and make me feel so alive. These are my ‘magic moments’.

Moments when my to-do list escapes my mind. Moments when I'm not thinking about the past or planning about the future. Moments when I don't care what I look like or who’s watching. Moments when I'm oblivious to the chaos mess around me. Moments when I'm out of my head long enough to be completely present in the here and now.

For me, there is a subtle difference between being ‘present’ with my children and ‘playing’ with my children...and my kids feel the difference.

When I ‘play’ with my kids, my body is there but my mind is usually a million miles away, and I lack the enthusiasm required to totally accept and enjoy that precious moment of being with my children. I’m suddenly more interested in cleaning the house, checking my iphone for updates, or finishing that article; anything but playing handball or hairdresses or hide and seek.

But when I’m present with my kids, my mind is EXACTLY where my body is. There’s this whole new dimension that adds so much more meaning to the moment. There’s a greater awareness and a deeper connection.

So how exactly does one be present with their children? For me, it’s all in the little things.

It’s looking them in their eyes when they speak to us or when we speak to them. It's truly listening to what they have to say without cutting them off or finishing their sentences. It's joining in and getting involved, instead of just watching from the sideline. It’s seeing things from their eyes and being a child all over again. It's saying yes a whole lot more and saying no a whole lot less. It’s taking a moment to breathe when your patience is wearing thin. It’s observing your emotions before reacting to a situation. It’s letting them be who they are and letting go of who we think they should be.

It’s the very same little things that add more meaning and a deeper connection to any relationship, not just between parent and child. It’s no wonder then, that the more present I am with my kids the more calm and cooperative they are; they show more initiative and have more confidence; and on the whole, our home is filled with much more harmony + happiness.

So when ‘magic moments’ aren’t happening, I remind myself to come back to the present moment. And the fastest way to get there is to breathe.

Yep. Just breathe.

Because whenever you are conscious of your breath, you are absolutely present.

And when you are absolutely present, magic moments happen. Mindful Parenting

Susana Frioni is a yoga teacher + a lover of sacred commerce. She lives on the Sunshine Coast, Australia and share cares her 2 children with their father. She shares her insights + discoveries at www.ramblingepicure.blogspot.com

How does your child see you? By Jamie Stacks

Mindfulness…as a mental health therapist I talk about mindfulness all the time.  I explain it to clients, encourage them to use it, plan programs around it and read books about it.  Since I started studying mindfulness in about 2008 the concept has fascinated me.  It makes so much sense and appears so simple.  Be here, be present, focus on what is.  Sounds simple yet is so very difficult to actually implement!!! As a mother I try to model what I want for my daughter.  This too is so much easier said than done.  Life is busy, we have work, school, family, friends, etc. and multi-tasking is easier to do now than ever before.  We can check email and other social media on the phone or computer, text etc.  This can be good or bad.  It “in theory” allows me to be with my daughter and work and talk to my friends all at the same time…huh?  Does it really let me do all that?

Maybe I am not really doing any of it when I try to do it all at the same time.  How many of us cook dinner ( I don’t really cook) and play with the kids and watch TV at the same time?  Do you remember what you watched?  Do you remember what your child said to you?  My guess is not really you just weren't really there!  We have to slow down, focus, do what we are doing to really get it and ‘be present”.

I search online for mindfulness info quite often and one tidbit really caught my eye a few months ago.  It impacted me so much that I think about it often and even share it with my families in therapy.  It is this or something close  “If you were your child right now, what would you think about yourself?”  How does your child see you?  Happy, unhappy, mad, calm, sad? How your child perceives you is his/her reality. It doesn’t really matter what your intentions are.  It matters how they see you.  If they see you doing many things at once yet not really "doing" any of them they will do the same.

True story, my daughter who is 3 will get her purse and her computer and walk around on her phone talking while she is “leaving” for work?  Wonder where she got that?  That is not what I want my daughter to think of when she thinks of me.  I want her to think of playing and relaxing and just being together.  I want her to think comfort and consistency.  If I don’t give her this, she will not get it.  It is my responsibility as a parent to slow down and be with my daughter.  Enjoy her at every age and every phase.   I ask myself that more now “Would I want to be my child right now?”  If the answer is no and it often is then how can I change that?

My goal is to put my computer up when I get home from work and just be with my baby until bedtime.  Email, Facebook and Twitter will all be there when we are done playing and “being”.  I want and intend to let her lead the time…color if she wants to color, read if she wants to read.  She deserves me to be present with her everyday for this time.  If I don’t make this a reality for it her then it won’t be.  This is not something you can go back and do over.  Everyday is 24 hours…be mindful of how you spend your time.  We don’t get it back but we do have a chance to start fresh from this moment on!  Go….how can you be a more mindful parent and give your children what they need?

Mindful Parenting articleProvided by Jamie L. Summers Stacks, LPC.  Jamie is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has been providing therapy since 1998.  Jamie graduated from Henderson State University in 1998 with a Master’s of Science in Community Counseling.  She has experience with a variety of different populations.  Her experiences have included working as an outpatient and inpatient therapist for adults, teenagers and children.  Jamie has been in private practice since 2009 and she is thrilled to be able to try some innovative and exciting new things. Jamie is licensed as an LAC Supervisor to provide individual and group supervision and has a specialization to provide technology assisted counseling and supervision.  She thinks that everyone should love what they do and create a career that works for them and those they help.

Jamie practices psychotherapy with adult women and adolescent girls, individually or with their families/partners. The focus of her practice is helping women and girls to recover from anxiety, depression and addictions.  You can follow her blog at www.jamiestacks.blogspot.com.

Mindfully not Present by Yael Brisker

A friend's daughter died of cancer this morning. She was 14. Suddenly everything comes into perspective. Suddenly all our words evaporate into thin air, our loving, caring, educating, teaching, scolding, directing , organizing words just go poof! All those moments ...

And still... I have a post to write.

Since Carina asked me to write this post, I have been walking around with a flashlight even bigger than usual - looking at myself, my kids, the people around me, but mostly at myself, with a critical eye. How present am I? In all daily activities, eating, getting dressed, doing the dishes.

Presence.

It's such a powerful word for me.

I've been playing, thinking, meditating, guilt-ing, learning about it since my kids were young, and still now, when they are 11, wondering how to live with it in peace, and better still, how to do/be it. I have noticed that no matter what I'm doing, if I take a little moment and breath in and out mindfully, I can be present, right here right now. It’s that simple. So what keeps me from being in that state more often?

I have twins, a boy and a girl. From the start it was clear to me that I wanted to give them a different quality of parenting than I received. I put my artwork on hold, I breast-fed them until they were three, didn't send them to school or kindergarten till they were 6.5. I believed in child-led learning (still do). I joined attachment parenting groups on the net, learned Nonviolent Communication. To better understand their needs, I read books on child development, The Continuum Concept, homeschooling, you name it. I was convinced I knew the "right" way of bringing them up, and I was sure that since I gave them my physical presence, I was also there mentally, emotionally...

When they were younger, I remember reading that if you give your child 5-10 minutes focused attention ( I'm talking between 2-5 years old) their cup fills up and you "earn" yourself 20 minutes of time to yourself, chores etc. Sometimes, just the fact that they know you're there is enough for them to continue playing peacefully. When they say: "Look at me" -  it doesn't mean look at me now for the next hour - it's the energy...

So far, I've been talking about what or how I did my best to give to my kids. But what about me? How present could I really be when my own unmet needs were shouting out to be acknowledged, met, understood? Is this what keeps me from being here more?

When they were six, I seperated from their father and moved with them to another town. Now, my time with them is divided up. Now, when I'm with them, I'm more pre-occupied with everyday matters. And when they're not here, when they go to their father's, there's a void that's incomprehensible.

In Nonviolent Communication, the concept of Empathy is based  first and foremost on being present when listening. It's a certain quality of connection in which you are empty of your own agenda, and therefore able to BE completely with another in their situation.

My kids can't be fooled (and I bet your kids too). They know when I am with them completely, or not. Yasmin will say to me: Ema (Mom in Hebrew), when I talk to you and you say mm-hhhmmm to me, I know you're not there. I always acknowledge the fact, because hey, I can't deny it, can I? (-:

As I'm writing this, my daughter suddenly says: Ema, what are you doing? I'm writing a post. Maybe you can write something about life and death, I mean from your perspective? She's thinking about the child that died.

Here I get stuck. What's my message?

The other day, my brother came to see us. He lives in the States and is a CEO of a software company. Yuval is also a follower of Tich Naht Hanh. Normally, when he arrives, we go see him at my Mother's, and yet he's almost always busy. This time he came to us. He didn't bring his laptop, we don't have cable TV. There were no distractions...(well almost) we just sat around the living room, eating talking. Suddenly he saw our book on Origami and started folding papers with my son. The kids played piano for him. It was a sweet evening. We connected in a way we hadn't done for ages - what simple happiness!

What comes up for me as I write these words is that despite the world we live in, and our continuous self scrutiny, we haven't lost the capacity for being with each other. And when we do, however imperfect and not completely mindful we are, ultimately, nothing feels better.

What do you think?

Mindfully un-present

Yael Brisker is a mother of twins, artist, metalsmith, Nonviolent Communication and Empathy skills teacher,  a student of Biosynthesis - a body oriented psycoptherapy. A big chunk of her childhood was spent in the States, during the 60’s which must have influenced her somewhat idealistic outlook on life! She currently lives with her kids in Israel. You can find her at www.yaelbrisker.com .She also has a page devoted to Empathic Connections on Facebook

http://tinyurl.com/5tv3zeu

It's important

It has been a while since the last post. I have been trying to find some direction in business, blogging and life. Well I found A direction and sticking to it for now. In the next few days I will have two articles come out... One in Elephant Journal and one on a Danish site called JuniorBusiness. Both are about presence in parenting. I am Sh*tting myself. I feel so strongly about the subject but also feel a little scared that people won't "like" them. So why are we (some of us) so afraid of not getting other peoples approval?  Why is it important? I am working on letting go, and will let go of the articles from my mailbox in a moment.

The reason why I want them out there, is to bring some attention to presence in parenthood. Create a talk about how do we slow down, and just be with our kids. Is there a lack of moments where we just are. Has the culture created a situation where we don't even know how be present anymore? And in that process I am showing my dirty laundry. Where I lack the ability to just be as a mother and I guess that is hard for me, still, to admit.

Starting April 4th there will be a series of women from around the world guest posting here on the blog. Sharing their thoughts, stories and tips about the subject. I hope you will join the talk, comment and read their awesome posts. I hope it will create food for thought, and maybe shift some focus in the way we do things right now. The world is in need of a little less doing and a little more being.

xox

Taking it all in.

I am going to continue the theme of mindfulness, parenting and children. I have heard a lot of comments about the 12 exercises for mindful parenting, and it seems to be something a lot of parents would love to work with some more. I know I do. So when the intention to meditate is there, but we lack space, time and motivation what do we do? A women I really enjoy reading is Diana Winston. What an inspiration. She wrote a blog post about meditating with toddlers.

“Well one night while meditating, I had the brainstorm of bringing back formal practice in toddler-friendly style. And thus we instituted “family meditation time.” My daughter is only one so we don’t have too high of a bar. We sit together, the three of us, for five minutes. We have one of those wooden pyramid timers that we set for five minutes; we all listen for the ding (extremely exciting to the one year old in all of us). Then my husband and I close our eyes and try to meditate. (Operative word: “try”). And what does my daughter do? She tries to nurse. She fiddles with the bell. She pokes us and giggles. She wanders about, not too far usually. Sometimes she whines and occasionally cries. Once she seemed like she was meditating along with us—for about two seconds. More often than not she’s jumping on us.”

I smile when I read it, I know it happens around here a lot.

I often hear, in classes that they couldn’t meditate because the kids were screaming, tv was on and there just too much distraction going on. No time, no space, and kids are awake. It is possible to commit to being aware of what is going on in this moment, without it being in silence. I believe that for us parents, that is a big part of the practice - in our everyday lives. Being present with chaos. As Diana goes on; "She bonked me with a book, and I just sat there and took it all in— spacious, open, wild-child mind..."

In my home we have a buddha statue. It is in my meditation corner with my cusion. Well... the cusion gets moved around all the time, when it’s in my daughter's way. I find it sort of symbolic, to remind me to take presence with me troughout my day. I walked into the living room the other day, to find the buddha over in my daughters play-corner with lip balm on, and hair bands around its head. He still had a big smile on its face, so I took that as a thumbs up... And she loved it. She was in peace and having the time of her live. True awareness and meditation. And I just sat there, and watched her observed her playing, with awareness of what was going on inside me, taking it all in. I love my meditation corner, but it goes where she goes and so does my everyday practice.

What do you do? I would love to hear your experiences.

12 exercises for Mindful Parenting.

I have read Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn’s book “Everyday blessings”. It’s about mindful parenting and the different stages of parenthood. At the end of the book, there are 12 exercises for Mindful Parenting. I want to share them with you. They remind me of what is really important, when the everyday stress disrupts the peace. They are great to put on the fridge or just read them once in a while. Just as a reminder to stay present with our children. Especially since we often are way too busy because we love them so much, and want to give them the best life possible. We have that chance with our presence. Maybe this can inspire. 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; imagine 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, 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. 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 children’s best interests. 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 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. 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 and perceive intuitively, with the whole of your being, what really needs to be done.

7. Try embodying silent presence. Listen carefully.

8. Learn to live with tension without losing your own balance. Practice moving into any moment, however difficult, without trying to change anything and without having to have a particular outcome occur. See what is “workable” if you are willing to trust your intuition and best instincts.

9. Apologize to your child when you have betrayed a trust in even a little way. Apologies are healing, and they demonstrate that you see a situation more clearly, or more from your child’s point of view. But “I’m sorry” loses its meaning if we are always saying it, or if we make regret a habit.

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 very important times when we need to practice being clear and strong and unequivocal with our children. Let this come as much as possible out of awareness and 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 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 in awareness. We have to be grounded in the present moment to share what is deepest and best in ourselves.

Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn