For the latest blog, head over to the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness! Click here to read about Mindful Mommy Moments and how to integrate mindfulness into your life- even when it is full of whining, body fluids and lack of sleep
Spaciousness is my favorite thing.
There is such a different quality to an experience when we invite some space into it.
We can get so contracted around things- physical or emotional pain, expectations, beliefs, pressures, and on and on. I do it all the time and I know I am not alone.
When we do that there isn’t any room for allowing that experience to move or show us anything, no room for reflection or contemplation. And also it feels worse. As I was reminded in a amazing presentation by Judson Brewer last week, suffering = pain+resistance. When we experience something uncomfortable and then contract around it- which is what most of us do- it makes it a more unpleasant experience. One of suffering.
I remember speaking about some issue with my kids that was I was really contracting around and experiencing suffering about. One of my teachers said, "Can you make bring some spaciousness into that?"
Wow. Yes. I could and I was able to realize that was a possibility. To make space-to allow things inside of me some room to breathe. And I felt so much better and more clear. I was able to get in touch with the bigger picture- gain some perspective about what matters most to me. That is the essence of mindful parenting; to stay aware of the big picture. It was still an issue that I didn’t know exactly how to deal with, but I wasn’t all tied up in knots about it anymore and somehow we found a way to be with that issue with more ease.
It’s sort of the difference between how you feel when you are 10 minutes late and still 5 miles away from an important appointment and how you might feel if you knew you have all day to do whatever you want with no time constraints.
When I was learning about Hakomi as a student and a client my favorite request was- and still is- can you make some space for that? For whatever experience that is arising. It might be one that feels good and expansive already or it might be something hard- sadness or fear or discomfort. It’s so important to turn toward those things and make space for them. They need that. We need to do that for ourselves.
Tonight or tomorrow just notice if you feel yourself contracting around something and see if you can make some space around it, or in it, or beside it. Just make a little space. And notice what happens.
I know this doesn’t come easy and lots of us have a lot of practice and conditioning around clamping down on things, so please be gentle with yourself if this doesn’t make any sense or is really hard for you to do at first.
I’m planning to share a guided meditation on this shortly- so look for that soon!
So today I yelled at my kids
“STOP! Stop right now!”
They were fighting and I was focused on accomplishing something and they started slamming the door on each other and my stress level outweighed my ability to stop and breathe and decide how to respond to them instead of just react.
In the past, this action- which is out of alignment with how I want to be with my kids- would have dragged me down further and further. “I’m a terrible mother” I might tell myself - or similar harsh messages.
But let’s face it- it happens! We get overwhelmed, we yell, we behave in ways we wish we didn’t. Because being a parent is impossible and we all have a lot of history that comes to the table with us that gets regularly triggered by our own offspring.
Being a mindful parent doesn’t mean never yelling or being an attachment parent or any other “type” of parent. It is about doing our best in the moment.
In that moment, I yelled. And they both looked at me and cried. And then I took a deep breath and offered myself some compassion, and gathered them on my lap and listened to them cry. When they were ready to listen I apologized. I was sorry and I also knew we could move on. That what matters most is the repair. It feels pretty amazing to be able to move on so quickly from something that in the past would have yanked me down for days.
I am grateful to the Hakomi process and the ideas of mindful parenting which aren’t about doing anything right but rather staying present, having compassion, being authentic and repairing those inevitable points of disconnection.
May you be gentle with yourselves and with your children- even when you can’t be the first time around.
"Mindful parenting does not mean being a “perfect parent” and is not something you can fail at. It is not easy and it takes practice, but like many aspects of parenting, some days are good and some are bad and you can always try again. You may forget to be mindful, but the second you realize you are distracted, it is an opportunity to make a different choice – the choice to be present.
Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. Mindfulness is about letting go of guilt and shame about the past and focusing on right now. It’s about accepting whatever is going on, rather than trying to change it or ignore it.
Being a mindful parent means that you pay attention to what you’re feeling. It does not mean that you will not get angry or upset. Of course you will feel negative emotions, but acting on them mindlessly is what compromises our parenting." - Jill Ceder
"Nothing we could ever do or work on or accomplish or achieve in life is worth as much as making our relationships more loving and kind… no task is so demanding, so difficult, so significant, so valuable as the task of being loving with the people in our lives." -Donna Martin, Hakomi trainer
In the Hakomi method there are several guiding principles that we use to navigate how we interact with clients and with ourselves. One of my favorite parts of the method is the idea of loving presence. It is a unique and incredibly helpful aspect of this method. The practitioner is always coming back to mindfulness and loving presence, which is also known as unconditional friendliness. In early Hakomi trainings we practice listening to others speak while holding in ourselves the intention of finding them inspirational and, let me tell you, it is so easy to do. Every human being is amazing in our ability to adapt and survive in so many different circumstances. Inside us all is the inner human knowing that we each have, at our core, a precious fragile glow; and we do all sorts of things to protect that part of ourselves. I find such beauty in that and I find such beauty in each of my clients as we sit and I am privileged to be with them as they explore the deeper parts of who they are and what they believe.
And it is amazing the kind of space that can grow when we feel free of judgement. As a Hakomi client I knew and trusted that my practitioners were genuinely attentive and unconditionally friendly to ALL THE PARTS OF ME! Even the parts I didn't like. When I felt that- really truly felt that- I was able to start learning about accepting those parts of myself and MADE SPACE for them and that was an amazing transformation.
"When someone maintains loving presence with another, it has a powerful effect. Possibly without even noticing it, the other feels safer, cared for and even understood. When this happens in a therapeutic relationship, healing has already begun." - Ron Kurtz, Hakomi Founder