Ever feel "grounded"? More importantly, ever feel "ungrounded"? What does that mean, exactly? Everyone says it, but have you ever stopped to think about what being grounded actually means? What does it consist of? Is it like possessing a super-special quality that only certain types of super-special people have? Is it more of an absence of something in particular... like our emotions!? We'll talk all about it here and then discuss a simple exercise for achieving that ever-elusive grounded feeling.
Lets start by talking about what being ungrounded does to us. Being ungrounded can send us into some pretty crazy states of mind: entitlement, jealousy, superiority, confusion, resentment, regret, blame, fury, rage, fear. So many things, people and situations in our lives can seemingly appear to throw us off-balance and into a mood that feels wrong, icky and upside down. What's cool, though, is that it is actually the responsibility of each one of us to stand strong and remain grounded no matter what happens to us in our lives. To uncover what makes you feel ungrounded, it may be worth reflecting on this topic in your own life. For me it's a lack of time for being alone (eg: reading, writing, and just thinking my own thoughts in general), excess noise, an over-packed schedule, and too little exercise.
What throws you off?
"I feel very blessed to have two wonderful, healthy children who keep me completely grounded, sane and throw up on my shoes just before I go to an awards show just so I know to keep it real." -Reese Witherspoon
Ha! Well-said and so applicable to all of us mamas. How often do our kids bring us back to reality when our heads go swimming in the clouds of emotion? All the time! So, then, what does being grounded actually feel like? Again, this sensational reality is different for each and every one of us, but it centers around being conscious in the present moment. Grounding is a state of being balanced, centered and aligned with ourselves. As mothers, being grounded allows us to care for ourselves, our children and our families with patience, compassion and kindness because we are conscious of what is happening now. When we're grounded our heads aren't swimming with thoughts of future "what if's" or regrets of past "oh, crap's!"
If at times you find that fear, anxiety, guilt, overwhelm or resentment is holding you back from living and mothering with an open heart (as all mamas do at times), try out My Tree Has Roots. It's a quick (less than 5 MINUTES!), easy and effective way to release the tension that naturally builds up in our daily lives. For max benefit, this release is best practiced in a calm, centered state. However, the satisfying freedom of this exercise can still be achieved in any moment of your busy day as long as you're able to place just a few minutes of focused attention on it.
You may choose to practice this release at any time of the day (even while driving...seriously!), but try to ground yourself, at the very least, once a day. This technique is also safe and beneficial to practice with your child(ren). Never too early to start teaching effective coping skills :-) So why not give it a try right now? You'll no doubt feel lighter and more centered both immediately afterward and throughout your day. "Too good to be true," you say? Give it a go every day for a week and feel the bliss of being grounded.
My Tree Has Roots gridclub.com
"My body is like a tree."
Begin by finding a comfortable position either standing, sitting or lying down. Take several deep, cleansing breaths... focusing on the flow of your breath as it goes in and out. Imagine that your body is a tree... any type of tree you wish.
"My tree has roots."
Once you can picture your body as a tree, imagine your tree growing roots deep into the ground. These roots can appear either as traditional tree roots or something different: a beam of colorful light, roots that sparkle with glitter and diamonds, watery and flowing roots... anything you wish.
"My roots reach down to the Earth's core."
Reflections of the Earth's beauty and power are evident all around us in every moment. Our planet has an incredibly grounding nature about it. Gardening, hiking, lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, having a picnic, walking barefoot... all of these activities tune us in to the natural harmony that the Earth possesses. When we seek to feel grounded, we seek to tap in to the grounding nature of the Earth herself; and that nature is strongest at her core. When we envision our roots reaching all the way to the Earth's core, we achieve a connection with the planet that is seldom felt or acknowledged.
Now imagine your roots reaching all the way to the Earth's core. It doesn't have to take long to get down there. Simply imagine a cross section of the planet with you standing, sitting or lying on the surface. Imagine that your roots reach down to the core. This step may seem like overkill, but it actually is the difference between feeling sorta grounded and completely grounded. Also, the more you practice My Tree Has Roots, the faster and easier these steps become.
"I release fear (tension, stress, anxiety, guilt, anger, etc.)."
Once you feel your roots have made a connection to the core, you can say, "I release fear," or whatever it is you'd like to release. As you say this, picture the stress leaving your body through your roots. Feel the tension draining out of you. Saying a prayer for assistance in releasing emotions is also very helpful here. Tune in to your breathing and continue to repeat this mantra until you feel "done" or "clear." The human body is a miraculous and intelligent presence. When your mind thinks or says something that you believe in, your body naturally follows suit. So... tell your body to release the stress and it will.
When we are free and clear of tension, stress and fear, we naturally live and mother from a more positive, productive place within ourselves. When we feel more "grounded," we have the ability to be more mindful of our emotions; thereby enabling us to breeze by more of life's pot holes and hurdles with grace. Even more importantly, getting grounded enables us mamas to model effective and appropriate ways of dealing with strong emotions and situations for our children.
Look closely at the image to the left... what do you see? Can you see the duck? Can you see the bunny? Can you see both the duck and the bunny at the same time?
What we actually see depends on where we focus our attention. You see a duck in this picture, when you focus your attention on seeing a duck. You see a bunny in this picture when you focus your attention on seeing a bunny. And did you notice how you can't see both the duck and the bunny at the same time? Isn't it interesting how our brains work?
I love this little experiment because it shows us 1) that one thing can be seen in many different ways, 2) what we intend on seeing is what we will see in reality, and 3) that we have the power to shift our attention and see something completely different simply by changing our perception.
As Mindful Mamas, this is powerful stuff, especially as it relates to how we see our children. The thoughts we think about our children will directly impact how we see them. How we see our children impacts how we interact with them and the expectations we set for them, ultimately shaping how they come to see themselves.
The Eyes of Fear Versus The Eyes of Love
"A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love-- from a belief in what is not real, to faith in that which is. This shift in perception changes everything" (Marianne Williamson).
Shifts in perception-- this is what Mindful Mothering is all about! Mindfulness is our practice of noticing; noticing when our thoughts have fallen into the grips of ego (aka- fear), letting those thoughts go without reacting to them, and then choosing to return to love. Just like you only see the duck or the bunny (not both at the same time), there are only two ways to see our children-- through the eyes of love or the eyes of fear. Marianne Williamson reminds us that "[l]ove is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." This reminds us that love is the only thing that is real and fear is an illusion.
As Mindful Mamas, our practice is to routinely get back to our center point of love when we notice that our fearful thoughts have pulled us away. Our mindfulness practice is the daily dedication to noticing our fearful thoughts about our children and situations they are in and work to "unlearn fear" so that the divine, limitless love that emanates from our Truth is what guides our thoughts, actions, and words in our mothering.
There are countless moments in our everyday lives when our fears for our kids get triggered. And when our fears get triggered, our thoughts and actions seek to limit, confine, control, and constrict the full expression of our children. We don't do it on purpose and, many times, we don't even realize when we are doing it. This is how fear works; it likes to fly undetected...that's how it maintains its power. When our fears for our children take control, how we see them changes; and how we see makes all the difference in how our kids come to see themselves.
Seeing your kids as capable, smart, resilient, and trustworthy
Courageous mothering is choosing to see your children through the eyes of love even when you are tempted to see through the eyes of fear. It's choosing to see them (in even the most scary situations, like when your "baby" is leaving for college) as capable, intelligent, resilient, and trustworthy. It's choosing to return to love when fear has taken you away.
Remember that fear will trick you. Without your awareness, your fears will trick you into seeing your kids as unable, needing your constant care, attention, and protection. Think about why mothers overprotect their kids (I am raising my hand here-- I've totally done this!). They are afraid their children will get hurt (emotionally and/or physically)-- and they won't be able to handle it. They are afraid of what pain their kids will feel-- and they won't be able to handle it. More so, mothers are afraid of what they will feel when they see their child experiencing pain-- and are afraid that they won't be able to handle it!
In the end, our fears cause us to overprotect our kids (in other words, limit the full expression of themselves) because we are afraid that we are not strong enough, capable enough, or resilient enough to handle it! If we are not Mindful Mamas, its easy to project our perceptions about ourselves on our children. When we are not aware that we are seeing our children (and ourselves) through the eyes of fear, our words and actions towards our kids can reinforce the false belief that they are not capable, not strong enough, or not trustworthy.
Our Mindful Mama Practice
Courageous mothering requires a powerful shift in perspective (that's mindfulness)-- choosing to see our children through the eyes of love rather than fear. It's choosing to see our children:
*as 100% capable of anything they attempt to do, beginning at birth
*as possessing infinite intelligence. Our role is then to create opportunities for them to display it.
*as "born hardwired for struggle" (lovely quote by Brené Brown), strong, and resilient
These steps will give you the power to turn any fearful thought back to love. Sometimes it is easy, other times, not so much. Practice makes perfect. I've found it more challenging to "return to love" when my girls are doing something I see as dangerous (ahem-- scaling a climbing wall that looks 50 feet high), so I've started to practice these steps when I "fear" they are not able to do something for themselves.
Step 1) NOTICE when your brain starts to see through the eyes of fear. You may feel compelled to do something for your child they are completely able to do themselves (thinking they lack the ability, or fear that there isn't enough time, so you want to do it yourself) or you may feel the urge to stop certain behaviors to discourage them from doing something that scares you (fears for their safety).
Step 2) SHIFT to seeing through the eyes of love. See them as capable, smart, and "hardwired for struggle." Say, "I trust you." "I know you can do this." "You are more capable than you realize." "I believe in you.". Your words form their belief system about themselves.
Step 3) ACCEPT and ACKNOWLEDGE how they do things. Compliment them on a job well done, about how imaginative they are, and how well they approach the problem. Draw their attention to their uniqueness, ability, and intelligence.
How we see our children makes all difference in how they come to see themselves. Practice shifting your perspective from fear to love in those mothering moments that tend to trigger your deepest fears and notice how your hopes for your children start to outweigh your fears. Notice how your connection to your child deepens and strengthens because it's based on faith and not fear. Notice how they respond to your positive expectations. Notice how they shine and come into their true selves-- starting to see themselves exactly the way you see them...through the eyes of love.
My pony tail was dripping with sweat. I couldn’t help it; it was sweltering hot in that room. “Here he comes,” I thought.
As he snaked his way through the sweltering room packed tight with sweaty yogis in Lululemon attire, my intention, my focus was to nail every pose. Oh by the way, I should mention that he was not just any yoga teacher-- he was the yoga teacher; the guy who'd created the teacher training program I just completed.
I had to look graceful, right? I had to be strong, right? I had to stick that reversed half-moon like I was posing for the cover of Yoga Journal, right? I was a yoga teacher now; the stakes were higher. This is the story fear had created in my mind.
We were all in a good flow, moving seamlessly between postures, when I heard his voice coming closer and closer. I tensed up. I wanted to look perfect. As he was nearly right in front of me, I gracefully stepped my right foot forward, ready to sweep my arms up to come into warrior one, when my foot slipped on the sweat on my mat, and I fell.
“Yoga is a practice everyone, not a performance. This is not "Cirque de Yoga." You will fall, you will make mistakes. It’s all part of the journey…” he said calmly, and matter-of-factly.
After I got over the initial freak-out in my mind that he was saying this because he'd just watched me almost take out a full row of fellow yogis in domino fashion, I thought about how great this line was for us, Mindful Mamas! Motherhood-- it's a practice, not a performance!
MOTHERHOOD- A Practice, Not a Performance
This shift in perspective is very powerful. Thinking of motherhood as a practice and not a performance shifts the focus from fear to love. When we think performance, we think perfection. And where perfection is involved, there is always a fear that being less than perfect will result in pain. As mothers, this can be the pain we feel that our imperfections might be screwing up our children-- and we feel bad about that! Fear is the anticipation of future pain.
For example, have you ever noticed how fears about "screwing up" your child are projections into the future? You are worrying about a future child, a future experience, a future event that doesn’t exist today. It isn’t real (even though it feels so real…that's fear’s trick to making itself stick).
Now try this trick: Think about all the times in the past when you feel you totally “screwed up” as a mom (well, don’t dwell on them, otherwise this little activity may back fire). NOW-- step into the present moment. Look at your child TODAY-- right now, at this moment; focus your attention on how wonderful, vibrant, loving, forgiving, resilient, trusting, and well-adjusted your child is NOW! See? It’s always just fine in the present moment. And if it isn’t, I guarantee you are probably doing everything a loving mother would do in this present moment to help your child.
Remember that we are not supposed to be perfect mothers. Motherhood is designed to be a practice and not a performance. This allows us to shift our thoughts out of fear of the future and into the present moment where fearless love is always found.
Motherhood is a practice. We are gonna make mistakes. And with mindfulness and awareness, we trust ourselves that we will do better next time. That's what a practice is-- continual refinement and growth where it is required that we take 3 steps back before we take 1 step forward. Going through the poses of our mothering with this perspective allows us to come to this practice with a sense of relaxation, trust, openness and acceptance. And I just have to say, a funny little thing happens when we approach our mothering this way-- we stress, perfect, and worry less. And as we stress, perfect, and worry less, we tend to naturally do less of those things (like yelling, losing our cool, or getting lost in guilt) that make us "think" we are screwing up our kids.
This is not Cirque de Motherhood. You will fall. You will make mistakes. It's all part of the journey. Don't allow fear of the future to torment you today! Just remember that motherhood is a practice. If you come at it every day with love, perseverance, and awareness, your future (as in your kids) will work itself out beautifully one present moment at a time.
Fear feels so real, doesn't it? In only thousandths of a second, it can consume our emotions, take over our body's systems, bring a flood of memories up from the past, and unleash an anxiety-avalanche of "worst case scenarios." Now please bear with me here for a little experiment:
1) Car accident... hurricane... hunger... losing a job... foreclosure...
When we think about each of these, what comes up inside of us? Fear.
2) Full-blown tantrum in a restaurant... meltdown on a plane... the 500th parent-teacher conference in a year... detention... your teenager dating one of the "bad boys" or 'bad girls"... flunking out of school... What comes up? Fear.
Ok, let's do a reset (and then I'll get to my point!). Imagine you're in the bright sunshine, laying on a beach, feeling the warm sand under your feet, hearing the waves crash, hearing the seagulls cry, sipping on a cool drink with an umbrella, feelin' the love... Hahhh, ok we're back now. Sorry about that up there. Those negative scenarios are no fun to think about, but what's important to realize here is that what comes up with each of these is fearful thought which causes the body to react physically. Whether the scenario is major or minor, threatening or non-threatening, when you experience these different types of fearful thoughts your body has the same reaction: constrict, shut down, flee, survive. It basically shouts, "Nooooo!" Not good, especially when our bodies regularly experience these types of responses in situations where we aren't actually in any danger.
Millions of years of evolution have brought us to this state... this place where it sometimes feels like fear runs the show in our lives. Our bodies actually change physiologically in response to fearful emotions, whether perceived or actual. We find ourselves in non-threatening situations with our children all the time where we think a thought and the fear floods in. It literally may feel like the worst case scenario is just around the corner. It feels so real because that is how are bodies are designed. Our bodies tell us: Fear = Take Action... Now! This formula is spot on if we happen to be faced with a hungry grizzly bear as we jog down the street. However, when all we're having is one of those pesky, non-threatening, fearful thoughts (that all moms do) we gotta revamp the formula.
Our new Mindful Mama fear formula: Fear = Respond with Love... Now!
The following three shifts in perspective can help you to approach any situation you're faced with from a place of love (maybe even that grizzly bear).
Shift #1: Fear Is Not Real
Fear is not real. Take a good, long, mindful look at it the next time you catch yourself having a fearful thought about a "worst case scenario." If you look at it long enough it eventually dissipates and disappears. See? Fear is not real. It is a product of the ego and therefore is only real if we make it real by unconsciously reacting to it. In this cleared space, we can then focus on the good, bring ourselves back around and get grounded.
Shift #2: Fear and Love Cannot Coexist
Fear and love cannot coexist in the same space. Just as we cannot think more than one thought at a time, the same is true with thoughts of fear. If fear is there, love is not. Better yet, when loving, trustful and grateful thoughts are there, fearful ones are not. Many of the fearful scenarios described above happen when we are unconscious and not mindful of the tricks our minds are playing on us.
Shift #3: Love That Fear
Mindfulness has the power to transform our fears into love. Once we realize that fear is not real, and once we remember that fear and love cannot coexist, which thought will we then choose? Which path will we continue along? Fearful or loving? Something you hate or something to be grateful for in the moment?
Fear is something that we can (and SHOULD) learn to transform into love. Every... single... time. Love is real. Choosing a loving thought or action will bring us toward peace and happiness. Love is where we want to mother from and where our true and best selves lie. Love is when we feel connected to our hearts, not our egos. When we "love that fear", we are basically telling our egos to (lovingly) step aside so that our hearts can guide us. I've been fascinated lately with looking directly at my fears in an effort to try and transform them. So, I did a little experiment. With the guidance of our pal, The Joyful Mother, I took one fear and focused on it for four days. The fear I chose was "a fear of self-love." Whenever this fear came up I marked it down on a piece of paper. You know what I found? I found that I thought about it A LOT! And being more mindful of my fearful thoughts in general, I found that an uncomfortable amount of my thoughts are fear-based throughout the day. Yikes! Now c'mon... I know that fear is not real, and fear and love cannot coexist. So, hmmm... what does this little experiment say about how I've been livin'? How I've been manifestin'? How I've been co-creatin'? How I've been motherin'?! Fearfully, not lovingly. Try it out for yourself. Pick a fear that you have, big or small, and place mindful attention on it for four days. Keep track of it and see if it is something that you can let go of... something you are willing to transform into love.
As mothers, we experience situations everyday that hand us the opportunity to grow and learn and evolve. I think that's why it's sometimes referred to as "the toughest job you'll ever love!" When our Fear = Respond with Love... Now!, we will find ourselves mothering from a more peaceful, productive space. We can let go of the fear, knowing that we are choosing the right path. <3 Carolineps: If you have a tip or technique on how to overcome your fears, please leave it in the comments below. We always love to hear and learn from our mindful mamas!
I had to laugh out loud. I was in my car, on my way to a yoga class, in tears because of an unrelenting week of attending to the constant demands of my three small children. No Doubt’s, Don’t Speak was doing a fine job of causing a sense of temporary amnesia as I sang along. When the song came to an end, the DJ announced, “Here’s an interesting tidbit about the band; Gwen Stefani (lead singer) admits to shutting herself in her closet to get away from her kids every now and again.” That’s when I had to LOL.
I’m not sure why I was laughing. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t help but picture Gwen Stefani sitting in a fetal position in her totally amazing closet while her children beat relentlessly on the door, or because I was in the middle of a “get me the hell out of here” crisis of my own; and identifying with Gwen Stefani felt really good.
Either way, I concluded that the Universe was speaking directly to me: it’s okay to put a little space between myself, my kids, and my mothering. All moms (even super famous ones who probably have housekeepers, chefs, and nannies) need their space.
Wide Open Spaces
Gwen needs it, you need it, I need it, and most importantly, our kids need it, too: SPACE.
It's easy to underestimate the importance of space, I think, because it's not tangible; it isn't something we can see, touch, taste, or grab. But just because we can't quantify it doesn't mean it doesn't have tremendous value. For instance, consider the importance of the space between music notes, bites of food, sunrise and sunset, contractions during birth, or words on a page. Without the space between, none of these things would be the things that they are. Music would be one sound, food would have no taste, days would have no end or beginning, one big contraction would be…well, hell, and if all the words on this page ran together, they’d have no meaning.
Space is essential because it allows for physical things to be defined. Space allows for things (including you, me, and our kids) to be what they are.
Since this idea of space is rather illusive, it's importance in relationships can be looked over. After the DJ exposed Gwen’s "confession" of retreating to her closet for a little space from her kids, he went on to say that in a recent survey (of what, I have no idea), several working mothers openly admitted to looking forward to business trips and going to work. “Yeah, and….,” I thought. There was something about the way the DJ talked about these confessions, or guilty pleas, of mothers that perpetuated the myth that it is taboo for us to admit that we all need a little space away from the demands of motherhood, and yes, the sometimes slightly annoying behaviors of our kids.
As mindful mamas, we know our perceptions of things impact how we feel and how we mother. Thus we choose to perceive space in our mothering, not as something that’s “bad” or something to feel guilty about (I have in the past, I totally admit it), but as something that is essential for both the growth and development our children and ourselves!
Thus, as mindful mamas, we intentionally create space between ourselves and our kids because we know that when we create space for our children to be heard, express themselves, explore their emotions, do things on their own, struggle (the good kind), and create, we allow them to define themselves. Not only that, space in a relationship allows the other person to feel seen, heard, and understood because they are given the space to express themselves. It's strange paradox, but space in a relationship actually brings people closer together!
Mindful Mama Practice
Creating space takes practice, mindful moms! Test, tweak, and try out these tips that will help you create a little space to grow (that means both you and your kids!):
Create Space AWAY:
Finding physical space away from our kids is mutually beneficial. It was a bit of a hard pill to swallow, but I had to admit to myself that my kids were not only just fine without me being there all the time, but that they actually flourished in my absence.
Interacting and being with other loving individuals in their lives (like their dad, grandparents, teachers, and babysitters) allowed them to discover more about themselves. Interacting with different people in different situations helps us to grow into ourselves because we discover things about ourselves that only these people and circumstance are able to teach us. We act differently in different settings around different people.
Same holds true for you, too! You are still growing into yourself everyday. Get out there and meet new people and do new things. As you create the space for your children to be taken care of by someone else, seize the opportunity to get out and expose yourself to new situations that teach you more about who you are continually becoming.
Create Space to Just BE:
It’s important that as mothers we protect our children’s schedules so there is space for them to just be themselves with only themselves. This space looks different at different ages of our kids. When my girls were babies, I gave them space to self sooth and to entertain themselves even if that meant lying on their backs and watching the mobile spin around for 20 minutes. (Okay, quick confession-- about 90% of the time back then, I felt totally guilty about it.).
Today, with a new shift in perspective, I am so much better about just setting out craft material for my preschoolers and getting out of the way for them to create-- that means, I no longer hover over them, asking incessant questions about their choice of color combinations, suggesting they do X with Y, or overly praise every action they perform. Other times, I'll just say, "go play." That's it. "Go play," encourages them to create, imagine, be free, discover, have fun, and explore...just be. When you create the space for them, you create the space for yourself, too. As they are spending time with themselves, what are you going to do with your space?
At every age, our children (and us, too) need space to be alone, to just be with ourselves. So when your teenager comes home from school and slams the bedroom door behind himself, just give him some space (without the probing questions and unsolicited advice). He knows you are there even though you are not right there. When our children are given time to process their thougths and feelings on their own, not only do they learn incredible things about themselves, they become empowered to solve their own problems in (mostly likely) more creative and unique ways than we could have ever come up with.
Create Space in the PRESENCE of Your Kids:
We can also create space in the presence of our kids every single day. The biggest way I’ve been practicing this lately is by being a good listener.
Every time I am intentional about listening to my daughter when she speaks, that means not internally judging and analyzing and then externally advising, I create the space for her to be heard, validated, and empowered to solve her own problems. In this space of my seemingly “non-doing,” I am doing so very much.
I have this tendency to do too much or say too much because of my desire for my girls to feel noticed. Ironically, the more I do and say, the less space I create for their thoughts and ideas; the less I actually notice them.
Create a little space between your instant reaction to solve their problems, offer advice, do a specific task for them, or to discipline. It may sound counter-intuitive but try talking less, asking fewer questions, explaining less, and offering advice only when asked. You may notice, as I did, that your children naturally open up more, share more, inquire more, explore their emotions more, and do more for themselves. Crazy, I tell ya!
Create space, mama. That's really all you have to do! Gently release your grip on doing everything, being everything, controlling everything for your child (yes, I'm exaggerating to make a point). Create the space and notice how darn good it FEELS to be free-- free from the pressure you put on yourself to perfect every situation, interaction, and moment with your children. I bet you'll find when you intentionally create the some space in your relationship with your child, they feel this freedom, too; a freedom to discover, explore, and just be themselves in a loving, accepting, and safe space of your heart.
Visualization is such a fun way to approach life. It allows us to focus time and attention on the positive things that we want in our daily lives, thereby NOT focusing on what we don't want to occur. THIS is how we create the lives of our dreams, ladies! My tip for you today has to do with four essential steps that can help you bring any dream to life.
So, pick a dream... any dream you've been thinking of lately, and hold onto it for a moment. Or start small, if you wish. You can imagine a phone call, a kiss, a flower, or a bubble bath.
The first step is to visualize your desire. This is the fun part! Take your dream step by step and give it pictures! Whether you create a vision board, write your vision down, or simply think of your dream using vivid mental images, this step is all about using your mind to consciously create. And don't be afraid to visualize often! This is not an obsessed preoccupation with your desire, necessarily, but a chance to cement your dream in your brain by spending some "quality time" with it.
Spend a couple moments now assigning 2 or 3 different mental images to your dream. Make them joyful, colorful, delicious, pleasantly scented, seriously...anything you want! Just make sure they're full of "you"! Now... take a few deep breaths, close your eyes if it helps, and then begin to visualize your picture sequence.
Energize It with Emotion!
The next step is all about the energy and emotion we can give to our dreams. If this sounds hard to do, just think about it this way... think of an example of when you DON'T want something to happen (e.g. like situations when we think our children are about to injure themselves, and we DON'T want it to happen!). Think about how quickly you give this situation a picture in your mind and a VERY STRONG emotion. You instantly picture what you DON'T want to occur and fear floods your system. See, we do this all the time! Attaching a strong emotion to a situation is one technique your short term memory uses to remember that experience for the future. Except, we mostly (unconsciously) envision images and experience emotions that we DON'T want to occur. Now simply reverse it and apply this same principle to your dream.
Take in some deep breaths. Pull up the images of your dream that you created above, then think of how you will feel when this dream is fulfilled: joyful, relieved, accomplished, perhaps? What will your body experience once your dream is fulfilled: relief, relaxation, health? What will your mind experience: assurance, stillness, contentment? What will your heart experience: peace, happiness, love? And what will your spirit experience: tranquility, connection, oneness? These thoughts energize your dream with emotion and will bring it to life. Creation of our dreams and desires takes having an awareness of what we DO want to occur. This is mindfulness in action! Spend time with the images of your desires and hold them steady in your mind. This will bring them about, and quick!
The third step has to do with surrendering to the truth that "anything is possible." Once you create your visualization and energize it with positive emotion, you must then release it with the faith that it will eventually come to you. You deserve your dreams and desires, and the sooner you realize this the sooner those dreams will become a reality in your life. Holding on too tightly to things is not the best way to keep them safe and sound. As any mom who has struggled with their child starting kindergarten, playing outside by herself, or leaving the nest for college knows, if you grasp too tightly with your heart, then what you want is ultimately pushed farther and farther away. The same is true of our desires. When we feverishly grasp at them, worry and fret about them, it sends a signal that we are not yet aligned with our dream... as if we're not quite ready for it to happen. Many times I catch myself grasping at the idea that I can control my 4 year old's every move. When she (not surprisingly) does not act accordingly, I feel frustrated and like a failure as a Mom. My mind says, "I know what's best for her... if only she'd listen to me on this!" I grasp at the notion so tightly that I ultimately create a conflict and the situation escalates. When I stop, take some deep breaths, smile and release, then I can get back to dealing with her mindfully and lovingly. Win - Win.
A release of your desire will help to bring it about more quickly. Prayer is the tool I use most often to release dreams and desires. Writing is also a wonderful tool for releasing.
The final step is to allow it. "Now what are we allowing here?", you might ask. This step is about being open to new situations, new people, new ideas (and serendipity, in general) to occur in your life. This will allow you to take advantage of opportunities and insights that will come your way as your dream begins to manifest in reality. As things begin to occur in line with your desire, a few things can happen:
1. you allow it and thereby hasten the manifestation
2. you doubt it, doubt yourself, doubt your worthiness, doubt the messenger, etc. and thereby slow down the manifestation
3. you deny it, and thereby push away your manifestation as if to almost stop it all together
No worries, though. All of these options are perfectly normal and we've all done all three of them throughout the course of our lives! If you find yourself doubting or denying, you can always stop and choose to allow in that moment. It's never too late to make a different choice and allow life to flow. What you want to begin developing here is an allowing spirit that is open to new experiences and opportunities. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you look at it), we cannot always create the exact way our dreams and desires will materialize. Hope, faith and trust are states of being that can help in developing a spirit that is open-minded and unlock the door to allowing the dreams you create into your life.
You Deserve It!
the attitude of gratitude
Drawing our dreams toward us takes mindfulness, time and attention. However it is a pretty exciting way to spend our time here if you think about it! Visualization is also easy and ultimately deeply rewarding. We deserve to live out all of our dreams and desires. Each and every one of us here on Earth. Think of what we could create if we each visualize, energize, release and allow the deepest desires of our hearts into our lives. It will be truly beautiful.
PS: If you have a favorite tip for visualizing go ahead and share with us below. We'd love to hear what moms are doing to bring dreams to life for themselves and their families!
It’s that time of year…cold and flu season. And this year, they are predicting it to be bad. Yep. Didn’t need to read the headlines to know this one. 4 of the 5 of us in my own family have it at this very moment.
That said, I’ve been practicing my mindful mama techniques like mad! Here are my favorite 4 that will make your next run-in with sickness more manageable and (believe it or not) actually bring out your most fanatically calm and compassionate mindful mothering self. (Seriously, we mindful mamas are masters at making the most out of difficult situations!)
1) SWITCH out of guilt mode
Upon hearing that first cough, feeling that hot forehead, or hearing the dreaded, “Mommy, my stomach hurts,” notice if your mind goes to guilt. I've noticed my tendency to beat myself up for my kids getting sick. That first cough sets my mind into action; I immediately chronicle all the recent places I took them: the gym child care center, the indoor community play structure (aka-- the McDonalds play structure on major steroids), or the moms group with all the kiddos running around where they most likely picked up the bug.
Just notice when you are tempted to take responsibility for stuff that isn’t your fault. We know it's not realistic to live in a bubble, and our kids are going to be subjected to germs no matter how much we attempt to avoid it. So if your thoughts go to guilt, a mindful mama switches them around to a more realistic and productive thought: “This just makes their bodies stronger.” It’s true. Challenges in our lives make us emotionally more resilient and sickness in our bodies make our bodies more resilient. Seek the silver lining here, mama.
2) SURRENDER to the moment
This may be the hardest for moms to do. It takes incredible mindfulness and awareness to let go of our everyday, high expectations for how things “should be” in our mothering and allow them to be as they are, especially when our kids are sick.
If, for days on end, your child has been in their pj’s (you, too for that matter), has had nothing to eat but popsicles and ice cream ('cause that's all that feels good on that sore throat), and has watched unlimited television (because that’s the only activity they can muster the energy to do), LET IT BE.
Notice when your thoughts start to resist the present moment and shift to how you think they should be. As you notice them, let them pass like clouds across a blue sky without emotionally reacting to them.
3) SLOW DOWN the speed of life
When anyone in the family gets sick, it’s such a good time to get back to basics. During these long days of caring for your sick child, continually ask yourself: “What’s really important right now?”
As a mindful mama, notice your temptation or desire to keep pace with your “to do” list. Your child will most likely be calling out for your attention every 30 seconds, and if your mind is situated on getting other things done, you are going to get very frustrated, and may inadvertently take it out on your child.
Finding your focus--comforting and caring for your child-- will help you acknowledge the fact that you may not get much of anything else done in the next several days. You might just notice that this break is kinda nice. It’s a great reminder that we tend to do too much anyways.
4) STOP and take a break
How long does it take you to hit your wall? You know, the “I can’t take this anymore” wall. We all hit our walls at different times (I think I lasted about 3 days before I hit mine this time). We all have breaking points. Pay attention to yourself and how you feel. Your body will give you cues that you need to rest.
Caring for a sick child takes constant attention, compassion, and kindness. Maintaining this level of attention is really, really hard day after day, sleepless night after sleepless night. You simply must give yourself permission to take a break! We can’t maintain the levels of compassion that our children need when we are totally depleted. Do anything, something other than caring for someone else, for some part of your day. It will help you to remember the most important mindful mama mantra of all: This too shall pass. It always does. Repeating this mantra at 3 am as I respond to the cries of my sick child really helps me mother in the moment.
Being mindful during stressful times like our child's illness, we are able to give them the ultimate medicine-- attention+love+compassion.
Did you feel it-- feel the world stop on Friday? We all did. I believe that Mother Nature and the entire Universe felt it, too because the events of that day went against every law of nature; another human being doing such unimaginable harm to another, especially our children…our future…our visible reminders of what it means to be blissful, perfectly present, and filled with divine energy and pure love.
The news of the horrific tragedy in Connecticut delivered a punch so hard, that collectively, we all lost our breath. And whenever we lose our breath, we lose our mental balance, and fear instantly takes root in our minds. We become confused, dumbfounded, and paralyzed. This is how I, and I am sure many of us, couldn't help but feel upon hearing the horrific news. But as human beings, especially as mindful mothers, in tragic times like these, we must rise above our fears and ground ourselves in the profound love we have for our children. For our divine connection to our kids reminds us of the power of our love to create miracles. Love begets love. Love is contagious-- but only if our hearts remain open to let it flow freely.
Feel It to Free It
I was awestruck by how quickly reading about the details of that day shut me down. I wept deeply, almost uncontrollably at times. The depth of my emotions were a clear indicator of rampant thoughts of fear running through my head. As frightening as it was, I allowed myself to feel everything; not that I really had a choice. These emotions were no match against my feable attempt to suppress and avoid them. The moment I truly let go and lost myself in the intensity of what I was feeling, I heard a voice. It was crystal clear, and it hovered somewhere above the chaos and the confusion. It was my true voice; the voice of my heart. “Jen….what’s going on? Why is this hitting you so hard?”
This was my mindfulness practice paying off during a pivotal point in the game of life. This simple act of self compassion and present moment awareness enabled me to see past my fear. The moment I noticed and labeled it, I instantly gained clarity. I realized my emotions were so severe because I felt deep grief for the immeasurable loss of precious life, as well as a profound sadness for the parents of the souls lost and children who survived but lost their innocence. But that was not all. The thought that was wreaking the most havoc in my head was, "What if that were my child?" As a parent, anytime this fear flashes through your head, you react as if that were the grave reality. Our bodily response doesn't discern the difference between what's real and fantasy in our minds. Fear feels real, so our bodies react. It was that powerful, primordial, parental fear for the safety of my three young daughters that brought on a flood of uncontrollable emotions.
As I stood frozen, staring out of my bedroom window with a tattered Kleenex in hand, the destructive cycle of fear kept taunting me with heart wrenching questions, “What have you done bringing children into this world?, Do you have the courage to let your girls grow and go?, Would you have the strength to endure the most unimaginable event in a parent’s life if it happened to you?” Fear has this way of shaking you to your core...that is until you recognize exactly what it's gettin' away with.
Vimala McClure, in the Tao of Motherhood says it best, “When you have your first child, suddenly life become precious. So precious you can strangle it with the tension of holding on. What mother hasn’t had fearful fantasies of losing her child? This is the hardest time to accept letting go as a part of holding on.” When our minds are consumed by fear, it's not only hard to accept that we have to let go of our children, it's unfathomable. But this is exactly fear's ultimate plan-- to trap you in your head, so your heart will not be your guide. Fear wants us to grasp our children with claws of steel because then it has succeeded. Fear is contagious, too! As mothers we need to remember that our fears can be caught by our children. Fear strangles life, hope, love, wisdom, and dreams because it halts the flow of energy. It stops movement forward. Forward motion is life, and it's what's necessary in the face of pain and suffering. We have to move forward to move out of it.
MINDFUL MAMA PRACTICE ~ Choosing love
The practice always starts with allowing ourselves the space to feel all our emotions as they arise. When we allow them to flow, we are better able to witness them as they pass-- and they will pass, for nothing is permanent. Mindfulness enables us to "name it to tame it." Can you recognize your fear? What does fear look like in your body? Get good at identifying the emotions or bodily sensations that indicate that fear has sabotaged your mind. For me-- it’s weeping, feeling out of control, and a general sense of sadness. The INSTANT you see your fear, you’ve regained control of your mind, and it no longer has the power to control you.
The next step is to intentionally CHOOSE to refocus your attention on Love. Fear may be a natural human “reaction” to pain and suffering, but it’s our divine nature to “respond” with peace, love, and presence (Hamrick). The only place we can respond with peace, love, and presence is in the present moment. We must breathe, pause, and become present of all the love that currently surrounds us. It is always there in abundance, we just have to shift our attention. Where our attention goes, our energy goes.
After learning of the tragic news, the moment I noticed my fear, and felt my body and mind spinning out of control, I paused. I reconnected with my breath. That pause gave me the space to shift my thoughts to love-- immense gratitude for the miracle of the birth of my children, the profound blessing of being able to tuck them into their warm beds, kissing their lips goodnight, and for my ability to see these blessings in my life. My LOVE for my children grounds me every.single.time. Being grounded, I hug my children tighter, I linger in their presence, and I listen more than I speak.
When the world stopped on Friday, it provided us with an incredible opportunity to pause, catch our breath, and refocus our attention on what matters most-- the love we have for each other. As mothers, you and I have incredible powers to transform the world with our love, and we do it by loving our kids. Focusing on this love calms and clears our minds. The most selfless gift we can ever give another human being, especially our children when they are suffering, is our peaceful, calm presence. When we are calm and present, our hearts are wide open, and we can literally (through energetic means) transfer love and compassion into the depths of their soul. The love that emanates from an open heart is the greatest antidote to pain and suffering. At times like these, as we draw our kids close, linger in their presence, and show them respect and compassion, may our love multiply not only in their hearts, but ours as well. The love we generate from loving our kids can heal the world.
Our love is contagious.
by guest contributor Sandra Seibert
When I was 27 years old, I decided to travel with camels in the White Desert of Egypt. I spent two weeks with a small group of other travelers and three guides in this wonderful, fascinating part of the world. The only things I had in my backpack were a journal and pen, some clothes, two books, two towels, wipes, a basic first aid kit and a sleeping bag.
For the first three days, I thought I was going to go crazy. Every night I went to sleep under the big sky of Egypt, looking up at the stars. It was so quiet in the desert that I could hear my own blood pulsing through my veins. During the day, as I rode along on my camel in a slow and steady rhythm, my eyes rested on a sparse landscape of sand dunes, rocks and small bushes. There was nothing but stillness.
With every day of that simple life in nature, I became calmer and more relaxed. Although the heat was exhausting and there was no iced drink, no cold water or shower to refresh myself, I found so much peace in just being there and letting go of all the stress and pressure from my life at home. There were no luxuries, no shopping malls, no computers, no electricity, no distractions—nothing but the simplicity of nature far away from the modern, technology-based world. Simple meals cooked over an open fire, bread baked under the coals in the sand, sleeping on a mat... Looking back, I call this experience "my journey to simplicity." Never have I felt more connected to my inner being. It was on this trip that I began really listening to that quiet voice within—my intuition and inner wisdom.
Despite the busyness of our daily lives, it is possible to capture the same stillness to reconnect with ourselves.
Living simply means SAYING NO to overwhelming schedules and outside demands. I value the needs of my family and of myself by setting boundaries and creating space and time. Saying no to others and their expectations is often a big challenge but is essential for slowing down and inviting simplicity into my life. Less is more - less stress, fewer appointments, less pressure, less "I should/must/need" leads to more awareness, relaxation, time, peace and balance. Saying no means listening to my intuition and gut feeling, and doing what I feel is right for me and my loved ones. In being connected to myself I become aware of the times when too much is going on and when it is time to slow down. Allowing myself to do that is a big step.
Saying no means setting priorities: What is really important NOW, today or over the coming weeks? As a mom I am a role model for my sons. When I am stressed out, exhausted and running low on energy, or I run around like crazy in order to get
everything done, I am not supporting my boys because I am too stressed out and tense to be fully present. By prioritizing and rethinking my schedule, my to-do list and my own expectations, I am able to free up time for us as a family: time to spend with the boys playing games together and doing fun activities, time to talk and listen, time to catch up and connect with my husband.
During the holidays it’s especially important to slow down, reflect on the past year and our experiences so that we can prepare for the New Year, and spend time with our loved ones without worrying about the decorations, table settings, meals, baking, gifts, etc. This year I chose simplicity: I decorated less but enough to create a nice atmosphere in our home, I bought a wonderful advent wreath at a local flower store instead of making my own, and I took time to play with the
kids instead of baking cookies myself. Letting go of the perfectionist in myself empowers me to slow down and take a break, to become aware of what is really important and what I want to let go of. When I choose simplicity in my life, I cease striving for more, faster, better and bigger and I find balance and peace.
Living simply also means SAYING YES to my own needs. As a mother I give and share my love all the time. In order to charge my batteries, I need to say yes to myself and practice self care. I say yes to slowing down and nourishing my soul with things I enjoy doing without feeling guilty or bad. I love to read fiction books and watch movies, to treat myself with facials and enjoy a cup of hot tea. By allowing myself to recharge, I connect with my intuition and my own essence, which is essential for balanced and mindful living and parenting.
As a mindful mom, I also say yes to what serves my family. I create healthy structures and routines based on simplicity. I schedule family time by having dinner together at home and arrange for times when we can talk without doing a thousand other things. I establish bedtime routines and morning routines. Young children and tweens especially need daily routines and structures. It creates a secure and safe foundation from which they can approach their daily challenges with a more balanced mindset.
Simplicity is a lifelong journey to ourselves. Cleaning out the mental clutter and focusing on the positive simplifies our state of mind and enables us to live consciously. Living in the present moment without worrying about the past or future, and simply being without attachment to "things," old beliefs or unhealthy structures, gives us the freedom to become our true selves. When we celebrate our imperfections we can live authentically and enjoy the simple things in life even more.
Simplicity for me is embracing what is. Finding peace with what is. Being grateful for the simple things in life. Simply being - joyful, authentic, free from clutter and baggage, without fear and worry, present, balanced, connected with yourself, in peace with life.
What does simplicity mean to you and how do you integrate it into your life? Feel free to share your thoughts.
Sandra Seibert, ACC, CPC, is the Joyful Growth Coach
for women, parents and expat families. She is passionate about helping women and mothers master change with joy and grace. Her philosophy is that the only constant in life is change; each challenge presents valuable opportunities to grow personally and experience transformation. Sandra believes in the importance of achieving inner balance to maintain physical, emotional and mental health in a fast paced and very technology-focused world. Her professional and personal backgrounds complement her coaching service, which she offers globally in English and German.
You can learn more about Sandra Seibert at http://joyfulgrowthcoach.com/
or join her community on facebook 'Sandra Seibert -The Joyful Growth Coach'.A gift for Mindful Mothers - join a FREE group call: "End of the Year - Reflection ~ Make peace with 2012 and get ready for 2013."Email her to get more information or for registration or visit:
As the holidays ramp up, it's so fun to focus our attention on all of the good times that are on the way. The joy that this time of year brings can be quite contagious. And as requests for our time and attention start rolling in, it makes it hard to say "NO" to those requests that come from loved ones who are also energized by the spirit of the season. Therefore, getting hoodwinked with an over-packed schedule of commitments can happen in a glittery, ribbon-wrapped flash!
Baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, volunteering, school performances, holiday parties, family responsibilities, traveling, caroling and general merriment... it all sounds like a blast! However, when I think about all the things I'm going to attempt to cram into my schedule before the year is through, I actually feel a bit tired and anxious. How about you? Is this reflective of what the holidays are like for your family? How does a stuffed schedule make us feel? For some moms, the busyness is energizing. But for me, holiday busyness can sneakily steal my energy and attention away from living in the moment.
On my journey toward more mindful moments, I've found it is important to sit with irksome feelings as they arise, such as feeling overwhelmed or anxious instead of ignoring them. And boy can that be uncomfortable! I am a stubborn Capricorn, so giving thought to bending the rules of "Christmas Tradition" is far from easy for me. Honestly, giving it any thought whatsoever sends my insides into a mess of knots and anxiety. Part of me says, "This is just how it is! It's always gonna be crazy! It'll be fine. My friends and family (and children!!) have expectations, I can't let them down!" But I find that sometimes those kinds of excuses don't lead to good "end results."
Rather than side-stepping a problem, having a mindfulness practice has taught me the power of seeing my problems clearly so that I can better "see" a new perspective; one that is full of love, acceptance, forgiveness, letting go, and (during this holiday season) plenty of strategies for simplification.
Since Christmas and the holidays are about the joy of sharing abundantly with those you love, to me, it's all about being present to the joy within the moment... not about being overwhelmed and stressed!
Therefore, I'm committing to incorporate a few of these strategies into my family's holiday experience this year: When In Doubt Simplify
, Surviving the Holidays
, Potluck Christmas Party
, White Elephant Gift Exchange
, and homemade gifts (most likely found on Pinterest
Simplicity is a way of life that can help us to find more peace and love within our moments this season and all year long. Let's spread simplicity along with cheer! What simplicity strategies work especially well for you this time of year? We'd really love to hear. Simply drop us a line in the comments section below.