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Mindfulness

What’s New: Why are you happy?

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At our town’s tree lighting on Friday. This was Annabelle’s first bonfire, and she was in awe!

Annabelle has officially reached the stage of constant questioning. “Mom, what would happen if…” is uttered countless times each day. She’s also turning outward, noticing, and taking an interest in people so much more, so the questions revolve around others often, too. Like a very small guru, she forces me to stop and think about my thoughts and feelings several times each day, “Mom, are you happy?” “Mom, are you upset?” “Why are you happy?” “Why are you upset?” It’s a reminder of how aware my children are of my moods, too – a huge responsibility.

This week, we finally got into the holiday spirit. I had been thrilled to learn some weeks ago that we would be able to pick up a tree from a nearby farm, just down the road at our local market. I jumped right on pre ordering one, completely underestimating what a bummer it would be to wait all the way until market day on December 8th to pick it up. I have always looked forward to putting the tree up Thanksgiving weekend, once everything is cleaned up from the festivities, and I am not a patient woman. Finally, on Saturday morning we picked the tree up – literally, as Andrew insisted it would be easier to carry it the half mile home on his shoulder than to put it on top of our car. Continue reading

Giving From the Heart

When I decided to write through my study of Nonviolent Communication, I thought I would dedicate a post to my experience with each chapter, for a total of thirteen posts. As I write, however, I’m reminded of how very much there is in each one, and how deeply they all resonate with me. Instead, I’m now planning to move back through the book, writing on each concept that has touched me separately. This means, of course, that my Sunday posts may go far beyond NaBlogPoMo (yes, I missed a day). We’ll see where this goes!

Giving From the Heart

Photo Credit: Jesslee Cuizon on Flickr.

The title of the first chapter in Rosenberg’s book is “Giving From the Heart,” a concept that has been on my mind almost constantly since I encountered it in my first reading months ago.  We all give of ourselves on a regular basis: a smile, a word of appreciation, a gift, an act of kindness. Many times, we do these things simply because we would like to. I hug and kiss my husband and daughter because I love them. I cook for them because this love gives me a desire to care for them. I say kind words to friends because I feel they deserve it, and I want them to know that.

These small gifts not only gratify the receiver, but knowing that I have been able to give something of value, however tangible or intangible, brings me a great deal of joy as well. At the same time, my relationship with those I give to often leads to a desire in them to give back to me, and the cycle continues, ideally anyway. Continue reading

Transforming Reactions into Responses

While the words [react and respond] are listed as synonyms, looking closely reveals subtle, but important differences. When we react, we take some action, usually one that is intended to counter the thing that we’re reacting to. We may react to yelling by yelling back, or react to change with attempts to stop what is happening. When we respond, we acknowledge what we see and give an answer, but do not necessarily feel a need to counter what we’re responding to.”


To read the rest, please visit TouchstoneZ, where I’m honored to be guest posting today!

On Becoming an Aspiring Mindful Mama


Welcome to the First Mindful Mama Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZParticipants are writing posts about what mindful practices mean to them, how they parent mindfully, obstacles to mindful practice and experiences along the way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I became a mother a mere fifteen months ago and, while I positively love this life, I’ve found that it makes for a great many demands on my time. I remember, prior to motherhood, when issues would arise and I would actually be able to spend time thinking about them. I might respond to a situation in a way that I didn’t like, so I would stop and think about what I could have done differently. These days, I’m faced with situations of one kind or another in increasingly rapid succession, and not only do I sometimes respond in ways that are less than ideal, but I find that I don’t have a whole lot of time to stop and reflect on those responses.
Mothering aside, the past year brought up some deeply painful and challenging issues in my life that I have been unable to write about here because the stories are not mine to share with the world. Suffice it to say that there has been a great deal weighing on my heart. Between the demands of motherhood and the challenges of these other issues, I have spent days here and there feeling like I was barely staying afloat, drifting in a sea of overwhelm. I am thankful for those days because they showed me that something had to change.

While pregnant, I had prepared for my daughter’s birth using the Hypnobabies Home Study Course, which included a number of different relaxation scripts. I uploaded these to my ipod and spent some quiet time each night listening to them and focusing on relaxing my body and reprogramming my mind. This practice helped to all but eliminate my fears related to childbirth, not by making me forget them, but by allowing me to face them head on, and then replace them with facts and positive images instead. At the height of my new mother overwhelm, I began searching for resources that would help me relax in a similar way.
I did some looking around and decided to purchase  The Mindfulness Workbook: A Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Fear and Embracing Compassion. I read the first several pages and all the while I could feel myself squirming with discomfort inside. The author spoke of going with the flow of our experiences, and responding mindfully instead of simply reacting to them. I have always tended not only to react to experiences, but to overreact and attempt to take control of the situation. I could tell that what I was reading was going to force me to look at these reactions and overreactions, and that I wasn’t going to be able to ignore what I saw. I jumped right in to the book, and tried the practices it suggested for a couple of days. I thought how valuable it would be for me to use what I was learning  as part of a daily sitting practice, a regular time for reflection and meditation. I even decided when and where I could fit it into my day. And then I moved on.
I’m not sure if I failed to put my plan into action because I was afraid of the change I knew it would bring about in my life, or if I simply forgot because I was busy with my day-to-day responsibilities. Either way, weeks passed as that book became a doorstop in my bedroom. Each time I walked by, I saw it sitting there, serving as a constant reminder that I needed to slow down and learn to take time for the work of mindfulness. What’s funny is that unlike many other books I have started and never finished, this one refused to disappear from view on a shelf somewhere and be forgotten. I needed this one, and fortunately it stayed right there where I would see it.
Finally, I spoke to my husband and we agreed on a specific time each day when he would focus on our daughter so that I could focus on me. So far, I have simply gone into our bedroom and worked with one of the practices in that book. I am only a week into this new routine, but already I feel so much better. It’s not about the book, though it has been a useful tool, but there’s something about knowing that I’ll have the time each day to just sit and reflect and be in my own presence that makes the pressures of the day more akin to an easy flow. It makes me less likely to react, and more likely to stop and think about how I will respond, or even let go of the need to respond altogether. I have many years, perhaps a lifetime to go before I learn to truly accept the flow of my experiences instead of fighting for control against the inevitable, but it feels good to be trying.
Photo Credit:  Brandi Dale Photography
Used by Creative Commons License

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Mindful Mama Blog CarnivalVisit TouchstoneZ to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Blog Carnival!
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