Friday, July 26, 2013

Have a full mind? Try being mindful!

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #3- Practicing Mindfulness

This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Practicing Mindfulness. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Slowing Down.

This week's challenge had us focusing on each moment of each day and embracing what it has to offer us.  Being mindful is not difficult but remembering to be mindful and enjoy the moment can be.  I have always been one to look forward to the excitement to come and can often be heard saying, "I can't wait for..."  I can't help but be excited for something that is coming up but I really have to learn to be excited about my day to day activities as well.  The reason this is so important is because if you spend your time waiting in excitement for something to come, then you miss out on the excitement of today!  You will look back on it and wish that you had enjoyed those days a little more.  Thus, being mindful comes in handy...

While practicing being mindful this week, I definitely discovered that my mind is FULL!  I walk with my baby every morning after his breakfast while I enjoy my morning smoothie.  It's a nice quiet time of my morning because he is happy to sit quietly and take in the sights from his stroller.  This is my opportunity to practice being mindful; I focus my attention on all of my senses... the smell of the flowers and fresh air, the feel of the heat from the sun and the cool breeze, the sounds of the birds chirping, the winds blowing through the leaves of the trees and the cars that drive by once in a while, the beautiful colors that I see as I pass every home with beautiful gardens in their front yards, and the taste of my fresh smoothie made from fresh fruit and vegetables that nourishes my body.  I enjoy this quiet moment of being mindful and allowing myself to be in the moment makes me very happy.  My mind does wander and thinks about what I have to do later or what needs to be done in the future but I bring myself back to the moment.  Walking with my baby, enjoying the quiet time, moments I will forever cherish when I look back.  I feel as though I have mastered being mindful in those moments.

The challenges that I had during this week are twofold; the first is being mindful in moments that don't necessarily have nice feelings, tastes, smells, sounds and sights, so I try to look at the positive aspects as there are positive aspects in every situation.  For example, when baby is crawling, climbing, touching and getting into everything in sight, you can chalk this up to him developing his brain through his curiosity.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, "I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity."  They say that a curious mind will be successful in school and in life.  Well I think that is a pretty positive spin on a baby that is into everything, I could easily get stressed out and try to contain it to a small area, but I would only be inhibiting something amazing and I don't want to do that.

A baby is actually alot like a teenager... in the fact that their brains are developing at warp speed.  Some areas of teenage brains are more mature than others which can result in making choices that may not be good decisions because they are based on motivational or emotional regions of the brain rather than good judgement or logic.  Being mindful of this helps me interact with my teenager in a way that is productive for both of us; meeting him where he is at, rather than trying to get him to meet me where I am (let go of the expectation that your teenager is going to make sound decisions when necessary because they mentally cannot make rational decisions).  I make it sound easy but it isn't.  Being mindful when interacting with a teenager is probably the most difficult because they talk back and make you want to punch them in the face sometimes but you are the adult, you have to restrain yourself and your emotions because you are the role model for their future behaviour!  AHH!!  That fact alone (the fact of being a role model and not the fact that I can't punch him in the face... haha) brings me great stress because I know I have not always been the best role model for him, we have grown up together and I have spent alot of his life maturing myself!  However, I can't dwell on the past and can only focus on the future.  I still have many formative years with him that I can help him develop into a good, happy and successful person.  He is a nice young man, but still a teenager that makes silly decisions sometimes.  He will learn from these decisions and that is all I can really hope for.  I focus on the things he is good at and try not to spend too much time dwelling on the things he isn't so good at but I do try to gently help him improve where needed.  We can all use the skill of wanting to improve in areas of our lives that are weak... heck that is why I am in this Peaceful Parenting Challenge!

The other challenging part of being mindful is not thinking about the giant to do list that you have all the time. I found that the more mindful I tried to be (ie. living in the moment and not thinking about what needs to happen next or what needs to be done or something in the future), when I did take a moment to think about the things that I had to do, I had forgotten some things that needed to be done and/or I got overwhelmed because I hadn't been thinking about it.  Thus, I discovered that while being mindful can be a great way to enjoy most of the day, there needs to be a balance and time set aside to work on the tasks on the to do list.  I know getting tasks done and crossed off the list brings me a sense of accomplishment and being mindful in these moments can bring you happiness as well.

Overall, I would say that his challenge was great for me, it has help me recognize the goodness in every part of my day and also see that I need to balance this with my to do list.  I have to make sure that I am not constantly looking forward to tomorrow and consciously try to live in today.  When you live in tomorrow with a baby and a teenager, you can miss out on so many things that can bring you delight in your day.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
No Need To Schedule Mindfulness– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting discovers mindfulness isn’t something she needs to make time for.
Living in the Present Moment – Amber from shares how she has been practicing presence.  
Practicing Mindfulness Ricky at Daddy Blogger takes his wife on a date to The Dark Table restaurant in Kitsilano to practice mindfulness.   
Being Mindful - Peaceful Parenting Challenge - Week 3 - Katrina from Kalem Photography finds her way back to a good old habit.
Week #3- Practicing Mindfulness – Jennifer from The Children’s Directory discovers how sometimes we get so caught up in all the garbage that life dumps on us that we forget
the little things that makes it all worth it.
Week 3 - Mindfullness-Amanda from Family and Baby Sign Language harnesses her power to attract more positive.
Lesson Already Learned – Verena from Memory Maker Events realizes she’s already learned mindfulness.  
Mindfulness of Self - Week 3: Peaceful Parenting - Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat finds mindfulness exhausting.

Have a full mind?  Try being mindful! – Lolly from My Journey Home challenges herself to live in the moment and stop looking forward.  

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