What do you do to stay calm or calm down? I’d love to know what works for you…..
I had to use all the mindfulness skills available to me earlier this week to keep calm….and then when I erupted (oops!) – to recover quickly! No-one can push our buttons like our kids can – and it is often when we are tired, stressed – or need to get to work on time….that we are pushed to our limits! As Jane Nelson says in Positive Discipline we are aiming for a general direction NOT perfection…so no point beating ourselves up when we revert to old ways….and instead we need to keep practicing and keep noticing the times when we remember our new strategies…when we find a way to stay calm or calm down!
For me what worked this week was:
- focusing on my feet,
- saying to myself this too will pass,
- looking outside to the view…
- then doing some LOUD breathing out…
- then when I did erupt (unfortunately!) keeping it to ‘I’ statements – limiting the blame and shame….
- and afterwards giving both kids huge hugs,
- apologising for my reaction,
- talking about what we can do the next morning to prevent the same scenario from happening again….
- and for me to identify that I need more self-care / me-time so that I have more reserves for handling BIG issues as they come up!
I am passionate about the need for all parents to understand emotions – how they work? how our brains process them? how kids develop emotional intelligence? How we can use mindfulness to find our inner calm and to help our kids to calm down too?
Here is a video I made for our recent How To Talk So Kids Will Listen group on how to deal with Big Feelings.
I’m so excited to have a *NEW* short online course ‘Understanding Emotions’ – you can work through it at your own pace, when it is convenient for you – there are slides , videos & reflective questions to encourage deep learning! I highly recommend it, you can free trial some of the videos here http://mindfulparentingmindfulcoachingonline.thinkific.com/courses/understandingemotions
I’d love your feedback!
Free Resource: If you would like FREE mindfulness prompts like the one above with strategies on how to deal with a STRONG feeling (yours or your kids) – please sign up at www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com or for recommended mindful parenting resources go to www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/resources
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So excited the NEW Online 35 Minutes of Mindfulness Online Course is live…
it’s FREE and only 35 minutes long –
If you are keen to explore 3 different mindfulness practices – what would normally be in week 1 of our Mindfulness Practice class – here it is!
I’d really welcome your feedback!!
Hope you are having a Mindful Moment!!
Cheers, Sara 🙂
I love the Mindful Pause because it is so easy to adapt to anything happening in our life right now, the good, the bad and the indifferent! Some call it the STOP practice but I got the idea of the mindful pause from the Bringing Up Great Kids program, ACF, and I love the concept.
With a mindful pause, we hit the pause button on whatever we are doing, check in with our body ( I like to focus on my feet, wriggle my toes), let a long breath out (or 3-5 breaths), check in with our thoughts & feelings- ask what would be useful right now?, and then hit the play button…
It’s that simple and yet so hard to remember to do! Sometimes I wear my watch on the wrong hand or a piece of jewellery I’m not used to or I use a mindfulness bell on my phone…
What I love about all the brain research is that just one long breath out can help our amygdala; our fight, flight or freeze response, to calm down one notch, 3-5 breaths even more….so the mindful pause is perfect for when I am feeling a strong negative emotion building up…I use the pause before I react – it helps me to respond in a different way or I can use it afterwards to calm down quicker….
Recently though I learnt from Tara Brach how important it is to breathe in our good moments. We are programmed to focus on the negative for our survival and we tend to skim the positive…so a mindful pause is a great thing to do when you are experiencing a good moment; a hug, a sunset, the moon rising, a smile, a laugh, good news, a good conversation….really breathe it in and allow your brain to soak in those feel good hormones…
The more we know about the brain the more we realise that it is like a muscle (Ruby Max – Mindfulness for the Frazzled – great book!) – whatever you focus on that part of the brain builds more grey matter & more connections – so practicing the mindful pause daily helps it to become the habitual thing you do….when things are good & not so good!
I find it works best to attach this practice to something that will help me remember – traffic lights, roundabouts, walking under a particular doorway, making a cup of tea, looking in the mirror , washing your hands- which one will work for you? I think I’ll do the cup of tea and washing my hands! 🙂
90 Second Breathing Space – for a longer mindful pause…
This is from a fantastic book called Mindfulness for Creativity – by Dr Danny Penman – if you have 90 seconds to do a recorded practice – at anytime during the day – it expands just a little on the mindful pause – but the same concept – focus on body – breath – thoughts & feelings… perfect for a quick pause right now from the screen!?!?
I was really lucky recently to be able to go camping on Moreton Island, QLD with my partner and four kids for 8 nights with just the basics (e.g. cold showers)…. and it really felt like a retreat from the world as we slept, snorkelled, kayaked, ate and slept some more!
But as the layers fell and we slowed down… and we focussed more on being and less on doing I noticed that even then….even when things were really peaceful and less stressful, my mind would STILL be classifying each moment as ‘like that’ or ‘don’t like that’ and I would be disappointed that this holiday wasn’t PERFECT!
It was almost as if by slowing down I became more aware of my mind’s ‘chatter’ and I was amazed that even when on a tropical island there was still potential to be unhappy… e.g. ‘it’s too hot’, ‘it’s raining’, ‘there’s mossies’, ‘I wish we had fresh fruit’ ‘the kids are fighting again’ etc. It didn’t seem to matter how relaxed we were I was still finding things I wanted to avoid or crave. I would dwell on memories of past holidays and wish that this one would have that same or even better moment of happiness, connectedness or relaxation… I was spending a lot of my holiday in the past or the future and not in the present!
This got me thinking about the Buddhist principle that aversion & craving cause our suffering/distress. As humans we tend to classify moments as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral and crave more of the pleasant and try to avoid the unpleasant. Maybe this is human nature and it may even be an important survival strategy? But if we are to be content with the present moment we need to observe our judgements and not get too caught up in them. E.g. ‘I’m having the thought that it would be really nice to have air conditioning/ a more comfortable mattress / a hot shower right now’ and let that thought drift by and remain in the present moment…
As I noticed these thoughts and became less caught up in them I was able to be more and more immersed in the present and less and less bothered by the ‘unpleasant’ features of camping. Each time I noticed them I would think ‘This isn’t perfect, it is as it is, and within that are some really great moments!’ and somehow this helped – in fact it is still helping me to adapt to life back in the real world!
I hope you all had a good start to the New Year with some time to reflect and be mindful 🙂
I was so fortunate recently to have a day travelling by ferry to Moreton Island, QLD with a good friend and the day held NO schedule or agenda. Slowly I began to unwind with the ferry ride, the snorkelling, the fish for lunch, the walk along the beach and then as I floated in the tropical calm water I realised I’d finally reached that state of just ‘being’, no thoughts of the past or of what was yet to happen in the future, just a state of peace and pleasure with the present moment….and I couldn’t remember the last time I had allowed myself a day of just ‘being’! As I returned home to school age kids and scheduled chaos I felt very disheartened to be entering the world of doing and not being….
Luckily I had Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh by my bed and he dedicates 2 pages to the art of Aimlessness. He writes: ‘In the west we are very goal oriented. We know where we want to go and we are very directed in getting there. This may be useful but often we forget to enjoy ourselves along the route…..The idea is that you do not put something in front of you and run after it, because everything is already here, in yourself.’ ‘We must stop from time to time in order to see clearly.’
And it dawned on me that I didn’t need a whole day of just ‘being’, I could incorporate it into my day….maybe meditation in the early morning for 10 minutes, riding my bike the scenic way to work or best of all, remembering to stop on the way home and sit on a rock for 5 minutes….allow myself to just be, to pause between work & home and acknowledge and appreciate the good bits about life in general….by just stopping for a moment!
The first day I tried this, just 2 days after my island trip, I sat on the rock by the sea, with no expectations, no striving, just being….and a whale breached out of the water in front of me, then another, and another…..and I watched in awe as those whales breached 21 times, playfully being in the water……it really felt like the universe was saying, ‘about time you stopped and now here is what you have been missing out on!.’ Quickly though I get caught up in the world of doing….so writing this blog is to help me get back on track…and prepare for a weekend of watching the clouds go by!