Today I am so happy to share with you a guest post by Hunter Clarke-Fields! Hunter has inspired me personally to focus on self-care on mindful living. Today she is contributing in this space and offering a generous giveaway!
This morning my 4-year old balked, fussed, and cried at brushing her teeth for the 100,000th time. Okay, maybe it wasn’t refusal number 100,000, but it felt like that. It’s so frustrating. I know that this kind of situation can trigger my temper.
My mindfulness practice helps me in moments like these.
I know from my stillness practice each day that the way out of these difficult feelings - frustration, anger, anxiety - is not to stuff them down or avoid them, but to go through them.
So this morning, when I started to feel that frustration instead of stuffing it down, I felt it.
I put my awareness into my body and felt the surge of energy that means my fight-or-flight response has been triggered. My mind was going. So I greet it: “Hello frustration.”
I didn’t try to pretend that everything was calm and peaceful, hoping it would be that way.
I told my daughter, “I feel really frustrated when you refuse to brush your teeth in the morning!” I felt the feelings, and I breathed into it.
The cool thing was that it didn’t escalate. I went through the feelings with awareness, and then was able to let them go. Escalation often happens when we try to deny or suppress our feelings. They come back to bite us until we are forced to feel them.
Notice I didn’t mention my daughter too much here?
That’s because mindfulness helps us realize that we can only control ourselves. If I work on taking care of my own feelings, my daughter see that.
In fact, children naturally just feel what they are feeling (sometimes really intensely!), and then move on. She doesn’t linger. Tantrum and tears in the bathroom to smiles on the mini-trampoline. She instinctively knows how to let her sad out.
The work of mindful parenting is work on ourselves.
We are the ones who were taught by our parents and culture to suppress our feelings (“Don’t cry. It’s not that bad. Buck up.”), not to pay attention to our bodies (“You have to eat everything on your plate.”), and not to trust ourselves (“Parents and teachers are always right.”).
These voices of our parents and culture still ring in our heads: “She shouldn’t disrespect me like that.” “You deserve this for what you did.” “Just do what you are told.”
Of course they do. That’s how most of us were raised. It’s natural that we should default to that place - we were trained in it.
That’s not to say it’s how we want to live and parent. We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we have those thoughts. When our parents words sometimes come out of our mouths. Compassion begins with ourselves.
And this is where mindfulness practice really helps.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present. To be aware of where we are and what we’re doing. Not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us
Mindfulness practice gives us the space to objectively look at our thoughts. Then we can choose what we want to believe. It gives us the grounding to be able to feel our feelings. We don’t get pushed and pulled by the emotional winds as much.
That’s why my coaching clients report more patience, more self-awareness and generally greater ease when they start their mindfulness practices. It’s not that the frustrations of the world have gone away. They can handle them with greater equanimity.
You can try it right now.
Sit up tall wherever you are. Close your eyes and take a minute to feel your breath coming in and out. Let your belly be soft. Focus on your breathing.
When thoughts come, notice them. Then come back to your breath. When you are ready, continue reading.
This is very simple, right? Hard to stay focused on your breath, right? Our thoughts drag us away from present at a dizzying speed.
This is how we practice separating ourselves from our thoughts. And the benefits it can bring are many - from physical to mental health and more.
Support for you.
I want you to have the support you need to develop a mindfulness practice. I know that as each of us creates more peace in ourselves, it makes for more peaceful families and ripples out into the world.
That’s why I’m hosting a Free 14-day Virtual Mindfulness Retreat starting this November 10th. Please go check it out and join us in creating more peace.
Mindful self-care incorporates all of you - body-mind and spirit. That’s why I’m offering two of my Yoga Mama Home Practice video packages as a giveaway too!
Now it’s your turn.
Do you incorporate mindfulness practices at home? Would you like to? Please share in the comments below!
Thank you so much for reading! It’s really a treat to meet some new folks, so please come over and say hello on my Facebook page. I always respond and love hearing your stories.
With warmth & lovingkindness,
Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE, RYT, helps mamas let go of stress and overwhelm and bring more peace and joy to life using the traditions of yoga & mindfulness. Hunter has over 18 years of experience in yoga & mindfulness practices. She has the dharma name, "Calm breath of the heart." Find out more about Hunter at Hunteryoga.com as well as free resources and how you can work with her here.