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Practicing Mindful Parenting

Posted Jul 03 2008 1:14pm

I recently read an interview on Gaiam, “How to Become a Mindful Parent” and it’s stuck with me, so I wanted to share. Lately I find myself caught up in the hectic pace of day to day life with a 3 year old and 9 month old, working part-time, running a business, blogging, and managing a household, and I find that I sometimes react mindlessly to my family. This article reminds me to stop stressing about everything I have to do, allow my children to be who they are, to stop “sweating the small stuff” and instead live in the present moment and enjoy my life as a wife, mother and well, me!

“How are children, as you put it, live-in Zen masters?

Jon Kabat-Zinn:Well, for example, a Zen master is likely to continually push your buttons so you have plenty of occasions to practice maintaining clarity and emotional balance.Children, by their very nature, are going to call into question and perhaps disrupt everything you know, and that is a great opportunity for bringing mindful awareness to the situation.Say you’ve put a lot of energy into making dinner after a difficult day, and your baby starts screaming and is inconsolable just when you are about to sit down and enjoy it. That’s a perfect opportunity to bring mindfulness right into that moment and see how attached you may be to having a peaceful dinner. What are your options? You can flip out and be immature and not be in resonance with whatever your child is experiencing, or you can realize this it what it means sometimes to have baby or a toddler. Life itself is the curriculum. When you give up your attachment, you won’t relate to your child with resentment. Our live-in Zen masters teach us to accept things as they are, and then respond appropriately rather than react mindlessly—because things are already as they are.”

Now, I know that mindful parenting is an ideal and not always realistic. Much of the time it’s a challenge to focus on a recipe for dinner much less to have the time to master the Zen of parenting! However, I’m going to try to change some of my reactions and instead respond mindfully in the moment. It’s a start and if it brings me inner peace and helps me to relate better to my family, I’m all for it!


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