Tag Archives: mindful parenting

Living with Intention

I’ve really missed being here!  I hope this finds you and yours well!  This past summer I set an intention to spend quality time with my kids and I did just that.  We had a wonderful summer together!  My kids for the most part got along.   We didn’t go on any extravagant vacations, we simply enjoyed each others presence, visiting local attractions, enjoying  trips to Jeni’s for delicious ice cream, and hiking through our local parks.

 

photo Elise and Liam

Intention according to the dictionary is: An aim that guides action.  At the beginning of many of the yoga classes I teach and attend, the teacher offers a moment to students to set an intention for their practice.  Often this intention comes from asking oneself, “why did I come to yoga today?”.  This intention creates an “aim” or focus for one’s practice, and, maybe even one’s life off the mat.

I have found  the act of setting daily intentions  allows me to maintain my focus and move through my day with purpose and connection to my family and students.  By no means does this mean that I live a “perfect” life without regrets.  Living with intention provides me a “road map” so, when I take a wrong turn I can find my way back.

As we head into the Holiday Season it is my intention to stay present and to enjoy time with my family.

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Balance On and Off the Mat

sunset

Ardha Chandrasana has become one of my favorite yoga poses.  By engaging the core and finding the strength of the standing leg, I can open into freedom, into a feeling of bliss.  I often tell my students that by practicing balance poses we can find balance in our life off the mat.  Hmmm….  With my children home for summer and my erratic work schedule, I seek balance on a daily basis.  As I mentioned in my post Disconnecting to Connect, I set aside a day each week to just be with my children fully engaged and present.  This helps me to have some balance between work and family time.   A recent trip my family and I took to Lakeside, Ohio offered me just what I needed to feel firmly planted and open.   At Lakeside, there is very limited access to Wi-Fi, the local coffee shop is the only place that offers Wi-Fi, so I refrained from my daily activity on email, only using my phone to tell my daughter when to return to the cottage.  Our days were spent riding our bikes, walking down to play by the lake and sitting on the porch reading and greeting the passer-byes.  I felt firmly rooted with an open heart and mind to be present for my family and myself.  Returning home I had a busy week of Yoga for Girls Camp yet, I felt so grounded and open to each moment of the week.  I’m still enjoying a sense of balance as a result of this week that my family spent away from the chaos of our modern life fully engaged and balanced.

How do you find balance on and off the mat?

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”  Thomas Merton

 

Disconnecting to Connect

IMG_1449A Heart of Love made by Gail Spirit Sky

 

 

It is etiquette to turn off your cell phone upon entering a yoga studio.  This practice helps us to drop into the present moment and tune into our breath, sensations and the community in the room.  I’ve taken this practice off the mat and into my life.    This summer I’ve dedicated Tuesdays to spending time with both my kids.  During this time, I’m not checking email or Instagram, I’m present to my kids and our experiences together.  Our connections have strengthened from this practice of disconnecting from the digital world and connecting to each other.   We laugh and “play” together.   I get to really listen to my children and bear witness to their hopes, dreams and thoughts on life.  I’ve noticed how my teenage daughter is also able to stay present to us and, not check her phone every time she hears a chime signaling a new text.  I notice I feel less stressed and therefore, my family is less stressed.  I know this time with my kids is so precious and fleeting.  I want them to know that I’m really there for them.  I also want to instill a practice/habit in them that they learn to stay connected to those in front of them instead of the virtual world.    I can’t help but wonder, what message are we sending our loved ones when  they are trying to talk to us and, we are so focused on our phone.

Your children need your presence more than your presents. ~Jesse Jackson

“We’re living in an era where capturing moments using our phones is more important than actually living these moments with whoever is beside us.”  Unknown

On Children

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The other day while listening to  Super Soul Sunday with Dr. Shefali, Oprah read the poem On Children by Kahlil Gibran.  This poem really spoke to me!  I believe our children are independent souls and do not have to think and behave as we do.  We can love and learn from them and nurture them for who they are as unique beings.  My children inspire me everyday as I watch them grow.  I admire their confidence  and strong sense of self as they move thru childhood sometimes breaking from the cultural norms.

On Children

KahlilGibran

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

 

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable.

 

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

If you’ve ever flown before, you’ve heard this statement, “In the event of an emergency and the oxygen masks drop down, please put  your mask on first before assisting children or others.”  This serves as a reminder that we need to care for ourselves before we can care for others.  As women, it is part of our nature to be the care-givers of the people in our lives, while also caring for our homes and maintaining a career outside of the home.   We, at least many of us, tend to place our needs and desires last on the list.  I invite you to make a change and “put on your oxygen mask first”!  I often find that, when I take some time for myself, I  have all that much more energy and love to give to my family.   So, make a date with yourself!  Below are some suggestions if you’re at a loss for where to begin.  Enjoy!  Please share in the comment section your self care ideas.

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*Sit outside and read a good book

*Enjoy a cup of tea and some quiet time

*Take a relaxing bath

*Practice yoga alone or take a class with some friends

*Practice some restorative yoga

*Take a walk and be with nature

*Share a meal with friends

*Get a massage

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Eleanor Brownn

 

 

Parent and Child Yoga Minutes

The truth of the matter is that I have reaped so many benefits from my yoga and meditation/mindfulness practice that yes, I would love for my entire family to practice on a daily basis with me.  I will say, my daughter does enjoy going to class with me when she is not hanging with her friends.  My son well, I think if he could teach the class he would practice yoga.  And my husband would rather play his guitar.  I have discovered a way to incorporate yoga into my son’s life. After attending a 1 day Workshop on Yoga 4 Classrooms in which I received this lovely deck of cards, my son and I started our Yoga Minutes.  In the morning just before going out to the bus stop, he chooses a card or two.  The cards have a pose and a description of how to do the pose as well as benefits of the pose.  There are also various visualizations and breath practices in the deck.  He and I look forward to choosing our card and, giggling always becomes part of the practice too. Another tool for mindfulness in our mornings is an app I have on my phone that I can set to chime at certain times.  When we hear the chime, we stop what we’re doing and take a breath or do wiggly tree.  These Yoga Minutes have proven to be a great way to incorporate mindfulness and yoga into my son’s life and mine.  My hope is that these minutes will provide him with tools for his daily life to manage his emotions and the stresses that children incur in this hectic world of ours.

I would love to hear in the comment section how you and your family incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your lives.

 

yoga cards

 

“Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important. They can change our civilization.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step

Feel Your Feet

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Last night on my way home from work I received a phone call from my husband that he and my children were at the emergency room.  My daughter had fallen and hit her head.  They wanted to be sure she did not suffer a major concussion.  I felt my feet on the gas and floor of my car and said a prayer.  Walking into the hospital, I kept my awareness in my feet feeling the firm ground beneath each step.  When I met up with my family back in the room I told my daughter to feel her feet and I placed my hands on her feet.  She closed her eyes and her breathing slowed as did mine.  When the doctor examined her they thought everything was mild but wanted to do an x-ray of her neck because of her neck pain.  This entire experience was all new to my daughter, luckily, she has never had to go to the hospital.  Once in the lab room for x-rays, I saw her anxiety increase.  I once again told her to press her feet into the chair and she calmed.   I was amazed how calm we both were throughout the entire ordeal.  To all of our relief, everything looked good and we were sent home.  Today she is feeling better and we are all grateful for this new day!  Life is so precious!  These simple words have been the most powerful tool in my life that I learned from my Urban Zen Training.  Whenever I’m feeling anxious or scattered, I feel my feet.  Whether I’m standing or sitting, I bring my attention to my feet and I really notice the firm ground under my feet.  From this planted place, my breath naturally slows and my mind quiets allowing me to think clearer and to be present. When I’m working with a patient or client that is experiencing anxiety, nausea and or exhaustion, “feel your feet” are often the first words out of my mouth.  When we feel our feet, we drop into our body and can immediately feel a sense of connection to the earth and a feeling of calm presence.  Allowing us the ability to proceed with conscious awareness.

Give this a try.  I would love to hear in the comment section below how this affects your life.

“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises.  You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.  Eckhart Tolle