As a yoga teacher, I have to constantly stop judging myself because I have seen an obvious decline in my mat practice and performance when I became a mother. However, “yoga-off-the-mat” is certainly on the rise. Having kids is the perfect formula for a life of mindfulness. You don’t sign up for it, it is forced upon you by your little gurus whether you are aware of it or not. How? Let me enumerate some of the many ways in Mindful Parenting 101.
The agony of waiting during the final months of pregnancy is a true test of patience. Do we complain about it and send “Hurry up, I wanna meet you!” messages to our babies working so hard in utero to develop their brains in the last few weeks? Is this the consciousness that we imbibe at such an early state of being? Our children haven’t been born yet and we tend to rush them already. A more graceful approach is to embrace the slow parenting style early on and let our children choose their own incarnation dates, also known as birthdays. A favorite quote of mine is from Lao Tzu: “Nature is never in a hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
The birthing process is another trial of a mother’s mind capacity to go beyond the concept and body’s threshold of pain. Do we succumb to media’s perception of a painful and horrific birth experience? Or do we transform this truly challenging experience to a blissful, ecstatic, even orgasmic, and triumphant one? I can vouch for both experiences. I labored and gave birth in the hospital which eventually led to an emergency C-section for my first born while my second born had a gentle, unassisted, drug-free water birth, which I will always have the fondest memories of because it empowered my primal forces as a divine mother like no other.
Breastfeeding compels you to be physically still which also helps calm the mind, a lesson we can all learn from our young ones. Science says that infants who are developing their lungs in their fourth trimester will match their breathing pattern to yours. So, it is important for us mothers to be more aware of our own breath as this acts as a yardstick to their breath. Interesting to note that the amount of milk mothers will produce will depend on how long and deep their breath is! The art of breath practice is called Pranayama in yoga. Learn this well because it is indeed useful in all of your parenting years. You will have to choose long deep breathing over reacting negatively when your child breaks something in the house or when you hear any bad news! A mantra I have learned in my yoga practice is, “Control your breath, control your life!”
We’ve all seen it, little children will not stop until they get your full attention. They ask, nag, and finally throw tantrums until you drop whatever it is you that are doing and give them your undivided time and presence. I am guilty of giving divided attention as I multi-task and listen to whatever it is my 8 year old is telling me while I am checking my email. Several times throughout the day, I try to update my Instagram accounts while my two-year-old wants to play with me. No, that is unacceptable behavior to our children. They deserve much better than that. In the frenetic age of technology, the Internet, and social media, time and focus has become a luxury. Have we lost authentic connections and basic respect in relationships because we have glorified being busy? As an entrepreneur, I know that I cannot completely let go of my online work. So, a good exercise I have been doing with my kids is to set sacred time each day when I leave my phone in a room (far away from me) and go outside with them so that I can really be fully present, without distractions. These kinds of days are the ones that will make beautiful imprints on our souls so I vow to make them count.
All of these (and more!) are part of my Mindful Parenting 101 life module as I struggle with my tasks as a wife, mother, yoga teacher, and entrepreneur. I hope that whatever parenting style you choose, you recognize that your children are teachers of mindfulness, too.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.