How to find your inner calm & calm down your kids?

Being With Strong Emotion Pema Chodron's strategies

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:

  • breathing,
  • 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!

Understanding emotions

 

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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It’s not perfect… it is as it is ….and within that are some really great moments!

moreton island

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 🙂

Full Moon Mindfulness

As I was walking on dusk last night, watching the beautiful blues and pinks and the near full moon, I caught myself thinking ‘WOW this will be great tomorrow night, we should come down here and see the FULL moon!   Planning a perfect moment….when actually the moon was perfect right then and there….no need to plan for a better night or moment, I just needed to absorb the moment as it was….

Who knows what will happen in the future, too many times I plan for the future then when I get there I wistfully long for the past….all we really have is right now…

Its so challenging to remember that even when I’m walking along a beautiful beach….let alone when things are tough….so much to learn and practice!

I hope you enjoy a full moon moment… no matter how fleeting!

Just have to add a postscript: the next night was filled with clouds and NO SIGN of full moon!!! Lucky I’d caught myself and enjoyed it when it was nearly full!

Mindful Parenting

Positive Disscipline Connection_blog

Really this whole blog is about how I’m trying to be more mindful in my life and particularly as a parent…..it’s an incredibly challenging thing to do….especially as the chaos of family life escalates in that pre-dinner craziness!   Still I like with mindfulness that there is no right or wrong, you just keep coming back to it, pulling your attention back to the present moment. 
I’ve been practising mindfulness daily now since 2011 and slowly I can see that I am more able to think before I speak, more able to make good choices when really angry, more able to laugh and see the funny side….yet at times, almost every day it seems that I am yet again mindless and unaware and caught up in my thoughts and feelings, what a life long challenge!

What I am really excited about is that since 2012 I have been facilitating parenting programs (In Alice Springs and now on the Mid North Coast of NSW).    These programs teach parents how to be mindful, particularly in stressful situations and explain the importance of being able to stop, pause, reflect on what the present moment needs and regulate our own emotions before we launch into responding to our children or to the stressful situation

I have found that all parents from all backgrounds like learning about this and come back the next week with stories about how they put it into place! Wouldn’t it be great if we could all access these skills and prevent harm from happening to children the world over!
One of those programs is Positive Discipline http://www.positivedsicipline.com and another is Bringing Up Great Kids (Check out their great FREE Mindful Parenting booklet on http://www.childhood.org.au/training/bringing-up-great-kids-resources-parenting-program )

I love that saying that we teach what we most need to learn and that certainly is the case for me! Each time I teach a workshop or write this blog it helps me to stay more mindful with my children! I am facilitating some Introduction to Positive Discipline Workshops in August, with the emphasis being on mindfulness. More information is at http://www.saraphillipsnsw.com. Hope to see some of you there!

I am present, right here, right now

wombat Tasmania 2014 smallest version

That’s it, that’s all you need to say to anchor you to the present moment…sometimes I need to say it 3 times…but each time I become more aware of where I am, what I’m doing, who is with me, it really helps!

Of course bushwalking and spotting a wombat is ALSO a really good way to be jolted into the present!!