Mindfulness is a spiritual practice. It is all about staying focused on the present moment and understanding how your choices, actions and behaviors impact your life and those around you. Mindfulness is taking responsibility for your part in the greater good; it is a way of life that makes you the leader of your own existence.
Mindfulness is also about energy. At its core, mindfulness requires honesty and truth-seeking, making it a very high vibrating practice. The more mindful you become, the higher your vibration soars. The positive energy created from integrity, honesty and making conscious choices, ultimately leads to a more loving and peaceful existence. When you are mindful, you do not seek to blame others, you do not stress over decisions, you do not judge, you do not react to negativity and you do not engage with toxic energy; this is because you take responsibility for your choices and act accordingly in all situations.
The practice of mindfulness applies to all areas of life and is especially powerful in parenting. Children learn the most from the example set by their parents or caregivers; they mirror our behavior. When you practice mindfulness for yourself, you teach them through your example. When you apply a mindful practice to parenting, you amplify the positive energy and results. Parents and caregivers who seek to look within and resist blaming, angering, reacting, denying and other toxic behaviors, ultimately teach these things to their children. As a result, stronger family bonds, that are truly based in unconditional love, are created.
Mindful people create peace whoever they go because they align more with that natural state. Being mindful of your choices, behavior, words, thoughts and actions requires discipline and practice; it is an ongoing evolution. Mindfulness is best taught by parental example; in this manner, it is simply a way of life imparted from a very young age. The results of these teachings create empowered, personally responsible people who spread positive energy by living at a higher vibration; it’s something our world definitely needs much more of to more and more peace (which happens one person at a time).
As a parent, mindfulness tools allow you to teach your children responsibility on another level; always bringing the discussion back to being conscious of choices and behaviors. It’s an incredibly valuable way to teach accountability, avoiding the common pitfalls of arguing and drama that can occur (particularly with teen years). Plus, you truly enable children to be properly prepared for adult living; as these principles are the tools of many personal development programs, that lots of grown-ups pay big bucks for and spend many years learning.
Here are 5 tools for mindful parenting:
1. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Decision-making and problem-solving are some of the most important things adults deal with on a daily basis, yet it is not addressed enough in childhood education at all. This is a top priority for parents and caregivers to teach, mostly by our own example of how we handle making decisions and solving problems. You have to first be able to apply a mindful approach with your own behavior. Are you indecisive? Do you freak out when there’s a problem? Take a personal inventory and apply mindfulness to your own behavior first. When your child comes to you for help with decision or problem, don’t dive right in and do the work for them. Involve them in the creative process by asking “what do you think?”. Allow them to explore their options and brainstorm with you to find the best answer. This Mindful Parenting Tool teaches problem solving and decisiveness, necessary for all humans to live more peacefully (child or adult).
2. TRY ON THE OPTIONS.
So many options! Making choices can lead to stress and even anxiety if you are not mindful. Young people have so many choices before them; from clubs and activities to peer pressure and classes; it can get overwhelming. Children need help learning to navigate every option that comes their way on a daily basis. A black and white Parenting approach of “do this and don’t do that” is very limited and it doesn’t allow for critical thinking skills. Empowering kids with tools to help them be selective and discerning is a mindful practice that has a positive, lifetime impact. The method of “trying on” options is so helpful because it allows you to safely experience something while empowering you to determine if its best for you. This can be done through visualization by asking “what would my life look like if I choose to do ___________”. Once you try on your option, If you like what you see, you have your answer. If you don’t like what you see, you have your answer.
3. GO WITH YOUR GUT.
Mindfulness heightens our gut feelings and instincts (our intuition). We know what is best for us and what is not, even as children. The most important thing is to be mindful and aware those feelings and act accordingly to avoid danger and make choices that are for our highest good. Teaching children about the sensations of their Solar Plexus Chakra can be quite helpful with this. Your Solar Plexus chakra (located a couple inches above your belly button) is very sensitive to energy; it’s why your intuition is also called “gut instincts”. Certain feelings in this area can warn you when something is just not quite right. These can include slight nausea, tension, tightening, butterflies and even slight pain or discomfort. Don’t ignore these feelings, pay attention to what is happening when they occur. For example, if you feel nauseated every time you are around a certain person, that is a sign that something is off and you need to be aware and act accordingly (like avoid being alone with this person).
4. TIME OUT.
No, this is not about the “time out” technique for toddler tantrums ;). This is all about the power of the pause and when to apply it. Taking a “time out” before acting, reacting or deciding allows us to be more mindful of our behaviors, choices of the consequences. Teach your children not to respond to everything in life so immediately! We live in an on demand world, the TIME OUT gives us the chance to truly THINK about what is best for us. You have to emulate this behavior and teach it at the same time. Do you expect people to respond to your every need, question or whim upon demand? Do you answer every text and/or email within seconds? The “time out” teaches priority setting, parents need to use it for themselves before teaching it.
5. LOOK WITHIN.
As situations arise with mindfully parenting your children, the first step in any parental intervention is to always look within. As the parent or caregiver, what has been your example of the behavior you are seeking to guide your child to change? What tone have you set with your own energy and is it contributing to what is happening? What changes can you make to support positive changes and/or model the behavior you expect from your child. Mindfulness is being aware that expecting something from another person, without actually living that expectation (leading by example), is inauthentic and ineffective.