In the fast paced world of parenting where decisions are made in between spilled cereal, constant questioning and smartphone apps, it is no wonder the word mindfulness is becoming as necessary in a parent’s vocabulary as the word nap-time. And yet, for many, mindfulness and parenting feel like an oxymoron, an impossible combination; mindfulness brings images of calm and peacefulness, while parenting… well, once a child hits two, parenting feels anything but Zen.
Mindful parenting, however, isn’t the idea of meditating on a mountaintop while your child tiptoes around in silence. Mindful parenting is about the creation of focus and attentiveness. It is the practice of the present moment and the silencing of chattering thoughts. Most importantly, mindful parenting is the simple reminder that we aren’t here as supermoms, rather we are here to be ourselves, present as who we are, mindful of our authentic voices, and showing up, messy hair days and all, to be who our children chose us to be.
The skeptic will claim that mindful parenting is impossible.
Parents are pulled in all directions, with too much to think about. And yet, mindfulness eliminates the chatter, and replaces it with instinctual pulls to the right, authentic choices and clarity.
A mindful parent is one who practices regular self care, finding the careful balance of a practice that feels right to her.
Rather than long independent rituals, self care can be found in common practices which mentally become focused on self care thought patterns. From a morning hot drink watching nature out the window, to a quick sky glance “good-morning” a mindful parent acknowledges that there is more to each of us than the physical reality we chart out each day. We are part of a greater whole, a deeper essence, and a moment observing the world grounds everyone to a deeper purpose of life.
Meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand, yet often a parent will dismiss the concept of mindfulness for lack of time to meditate. Meditation comes in so many forms. For instance, did you know that resting your tongue to the floor of your mouth, just behind your teeth, closing your eyes and briefly imagining a quiet place or favorite memory triggers the same neuron patterns as a deep meditation? Or focusing on your feet and the space beneath them releases energy blocks and creates flow, much like a Reiki session. Once we remember that we are naturally spiritual beings having a physical experience and not the other way around, mindful living becomes as natural as breathing. (speaking of which, deep breathing is a simple way to become mindful in the moment.)
So, what does it mean to be mindful?
Imagine a computer screen with the internet browser open.
The screen has various tabs open for easy access; social media, email, Google, various pages readily available ‘just in case.” We are so used to functioning in this multi-tasking environment; our brains now are developing the ability to have numerous “tabs” open. We think so many half thoughts consistently, not ever fully thinking them through, but keeping them in motion… just in case. We create lists, we wonder about parenting approaches, we contemplate environments and neighborhoods, scattered across various topics our thoughts make random touch downs in the playing field, barely making any progress before jumping to a different topic all together.
And then mindfulness comes in.
The art of mindfulness is to observe the presence of the tabs, and close them, allowing our minds to settle on one page at a time. Mindfulness is that gentle nudge that reminds us we can go and look at any other thought fully later, but to focus on one at a time. It is a muscle that needs exercising, as it firmly grasps hold of the present moment and what needs to be focused on.
Our children need mindfulness too.
Little techniques such as deep breathing and counting can create focus and clarity. Simple poems and songs help a child realize that they are not controlled by their thoughts, but the thinker of them. Mindfulness creates self esteem and confidence, as well as the perfect expression of individuality, as those who practice mindfulness are given the opportunity to feel their way back to the deeper version of Who They Really Are.
In schools which have offered meditation and lessons in mindfulness teachers are finding a significant decrease in bullying and acts of aggression. Mindfulness allows the rush of anger, frustration and stress to diminish as we become the observers of how we feel, rather than getting caught up in the storm and tempest of them. It gives a person a chance to regroup and refocus, returning to their own sense of self.
We can all react to what’s around us sometimes.
We can all get caught up in emotion, spiraling in the sea of thoughts that get us there. But when we allow ourselves the few moments it takes to be mindful, be it at a traffic light, or in the bathroom, the shower or at the kitchen sink, or simply those few moments of waking up in the morning, when we allow ourselves to simply breathe, release and gently love, we return to a feeling of grounded wholeness, and then we can deal with whatever is happening in front of us.
It is always a question of remembering that life is in the moment and by taking a mindful moment then we can truly live.
Christina Fletcher is a Spiritually Aware Parent Coach and Energy Healer. She offers busy parents relief, grounding and practical mindfulness and spiritual tools so they can be present in their lives and parenting, releasing the feeling of stress, overwhelm and energetically drained. Currently she is leading the members of her program The Breathing Space through a Mindfulness Challenge for the month of January. Feel free to learn more about her on the Family Alchemist website.
Christina Fletcher is a Spiritually Aware Parent Coach and Energy Healer who specializes in helping parents become heart centered and aligned to their highest vision of their parenting and of themselves. Through her background and training in religious and self development studies, as well as spirituality and conscious parenting, Christina helps parents dive past the “shoulds” created from their upbringing and society, and release beliefs that hold them back to create authentic, connected relationships with their children, and themselves. Using mindset techniques, practical spiritual tools such as simple meditation, the law of attraction and positive focus, as well as her training and gifts as an energy healer, Christina gives space for a mom or dad to drop into the feeling of satisfaction, alignment and relief, so they can tune in to what their children truly need and work from a centered perspective. She gives practical and spiritual advice on how to tune into a child’s perspective as well as concrete tools to pass on self awareness and mindful living to children as young as 3, so authenticity, emotional awareness, communication and connection can be the foundation for the whole family. Christina is a homeschooling mom of 2 daughters, (ages 16 and 15) and a 9 year old son. She is happily married to her husband Jeff. When their girls were born 10 months apart, Christina parented as she thought she “should”. Scheduled feeds, nights of pacing the floor with crying babies, and getting mad as they got older, she knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and in tears through those early years. It wasn’t until her girls were 3 and 4 that she decided her happiness mattered and that she wanted to have fun again. The change transformed everything, creating a powerful relationship with her children which is stronger than ever now that they are teens. When she was pregnant with her son, she became passionate about creating a spiritually aware pregnancy, and her connection with her son prior to his birth was crucial through some family tragedy taking place at that time. This later became the topic of her first book. Christina is passionate about helping parents create deep relationships with their children, from birth until fully grown. But she also knows that deep relationships with others can only be formed from a deep relationship with yourself, so through courses, coaching and her writing, she offers tools for the entire family so they can truly become self aware and present as everything they really are.