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Practical Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be defined as the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. But how do we get from a tired, worn out mom who just wants people to listen and not jump on her head and eat their food and NOT HIT THEIR SISTER!?

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The first step is to breathe and lower your expectations. As we step into the roll of parent, we step face to face with the parent inside us. All the words our parents said to us, how they behaved towards us, and yes, some of their bad habits as well. Most often you hear your parents words come out of your mouth in times of anger or distress. When I was a young mother i found myself yelling, a lot. I didn’t know how to deal with these little rascally people who needed me all the time, I wanted them to do what I wanted them to do, when I wanted them to do it. But they had other ideas. I had very high expectations for myself, my household and my children. I was my harshest judge.

I found the disparity between my reality and the ideal in my head overwhelming as I tried to make everything perfect for my husband, for my children, and for strangers who never came over anyway. I had to learn to lower my expectations for myself. I could choose to be stressed out by a floor that needed to be vacuumed, or dirty dishes in the sink (what will my husband think if he comes home and there are dirty dishes!?!) or I could breathe and choose to see my day for what it was. I was tired. The kids were unsettled and cried a lot. It took a lot out of me to be there for them. They are my priority. Dishes are not. Good night dishes, I will see you tomorrow when I have more energy.

I also made a decision to not be a parent who yells.

It was hard to change. The thing that made the most difference was to see my children as perfect souls whose needs are made known through their behavior. One quote that changed me was this one, "Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become." ~Brooke Hampton The road to mindfulness is one that will bring up your false beliefs about yourself, but it also has tools to release judgement from those falsities, helping you quiet the judgemental little voice in your head that keeps you from following your intuition.

This stillness is key and it doesn’t happen all at once. The stillness comes as you take time to be present. As you walk down the street you can talk to yourself about the past, present or future or you can quiet that mind and simply notice the trees, the light shining through the leaves, the sound of your own footsteps. This is the start of mindfulness.

If you are surrounded by children. Stop your to do list task and sit with them. Quiet your inner critic and just be in their presence and feel their joy, their energy. Connect with their emotional needs, look into their eyes. Smile and breathe.

Too often we get caught up in the busyness of our days. Keeping up with high expectations, lack of emotional boundaries, and self hatred are exhausting and tear us from the present moment. They don’t let us luxuriate in our sensations, our love and our light.

If you want to speed up the process of mindfulness in the home, practice meditating. You can follow a guided meditation, practice mantras or listen to high frequency music, while releasing all thoughts from your mind. These thoughts will come fast at first, in yoga called the monkey mind. As you practice visualizing these thoughts floating away, focusing on the sensation of your breath, you will be fast tracked to a quieter mind. You will have good days and bad days with meditation, but each day will bring you closer to a balanced mind, and a happier state of being.

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However you begin mindfulness in your life. Remember that you are already good enough. Raising your children in a home where yelling is not the norm is a beautiful goal, and you will be guided as you strive to be at peace in your own mind. Let the bad days go, and start each day with the light of your soul shining forth. Practice mindfulness to keep that memory in your mind and release the strife that will try to throw you off. Soon enough, it will be a state of being instead of a dream.

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