How to Be, Not Do: Simple Techniques for Practicing Mindfulness Daily

April 23, 2018 - 9 minutes read

This is the second part of a two part series.

So we know we want to start experiencing lowered stress, feel more in control, and improve our connections in our relationships with our kids and loved ones. We’re convinced, mindfulness sounds like the answer. What’s the next step? The great news from Circle 4 Parents coaches is that this doesn’t require you to commit to necessarily rigorous demands on your time, energy, or even wallet.

According to Korie Leigh, PhD and Circle 4 Parents Mindful Mama session coach, “It’s important to know where our parents are in their familiarity with and understanding of mindfulness. One area that I emphasize within my sessions is the concept that mindfulness practice can look and feel however you want and need it to, especially for the busy parent. Hence, in my coaching groups, there are no prescribed or strict ways to engage in mindfulness practice.”

As Jon Kabat-Zinn states, “Mindfulness is simply paying attention, on purpose, to the present. This is the essence of my Mindful Mama sessions. I empower parents to learn how to engage in reflective practices that call attention to the cultivation of mindful presence in everyday life. We explore and discuss various occurrences and experiences in any given day, and find creative ways to shift those routines towards a practice of mindful awareness. From this vantage point, even tasks so simple as washing the dishes or sweeping the floors can start to unfold into mindfulness practice. Hands-on approaches in Mindful Mama sessions include exposure to techniques such as breath work, sensory awareness, cultivation of curiosity, and harnessing the art of non-judgmental paying attention to the present moment in the here-and-now.”

To get even more nuts-and-bolts, Circle 4 Parents Mindful Mama coach Sheila offers up her go-to strategy for establishing a regular mindfulness practice. “Parents have minimal time in the morning, but it is the best time to set the tone for their day. Take just 6 minutes and implement the following and notice how you want to feel.”

Circle 4 Parents Coach Sheila’s Exercise:

Begin by sitting comfortably in a space where you will not be interrupted. Use a timer to set one minute for each exercise.

  • First, 1 minute of silence.
  • Second, 1 minute of affirmation.
  • Third, 1 minute of visualization.
  • Fourth, 1 minute of exercise (stretch).
  • Fifth, 1 minute of reading.
  • Sixth, 1 minute of scribing (journaling 3 things you are grateful for).

That was just 6 minutes.

Choose a word for the day, such as calm, peace, joy or happy.

Is There a Difference Between Mindfulness and Mindful Parenting?

“As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our children is the gift of our full presence, in the moment. This is the deep intention and invitation for parents as they make space for mindfulness practice in their lives. Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and foremost to ourselves”.
–The Huffington Post

Now that we’re noticing the real benefits of the efforts we’re putting into our being present to each moment with the help of our coaches, and feeling a greater connection to our children from making the simple change of being fully PRESENT to them during our time together – we start wondering, ‘How could my kids benefit from this practice as much as I am? What if they learned to better self-regulate, started experiencing even better moods, and could focus and function better in school? What can I do to share this tool with my family?’ The truth is, mindfulness may be the best gift that you can give your child.

It’s useful to have an understanding of the difference between mindfulness of self – that presence to each moment and ability to be rooted solidly in the now, recognizing how we are feeling – and mindfulness toward others, which is an additional and equally fulfilling practice. Mindfulness toward others is taking it one step further and saying: ‘I know how I am feeling in this moment. But how will I choose to respond?’, and utilizing tools of compassion and non-judgment, and/or perhaps even providing a safe space for your children to be vulnerable and honest with you, in order to strengthen your relationship though understanding, non-reactivity, and healthy, more positive communication.

The exciting news is that this approach of mindful parenting of our kids shows real results that matter where it counts.

“In one study, researchers at the University of Vermont surveyed over 600 parents of children ages 3-17 to see how mindfulness related to their children’s well-being. Parents reported on their trait mindfulness (how mindful they are in everyday interactions), mindfulness in parenting (how attentive, non-judging, and non-reacting they are in interactions with their children), and positive versus negative parenting practices (for example, expressing unconditional love and setting limits versus using harsh physical punishments). They also reflected on their kid’s typical coping styles—if they tended to become anxious or depressed or act out in disruptive ways, like hitting or yelling during difficult situations.”

“Analyses showed that parents who reported more mindful parenting engaged in more positive and less negative parenting behavior, which was then linked to more positive behavior in their kids—meaning less anxiety, depression, and acting out.”

“To bring mindful attention and awareness into your interactions with your child really seems to set the stage for you to be a good parent,” says Justin Parent, lead author of the study.

“Caitlin Turpyn and Tara Chaplin of George Mason University tried to investigate this relationship directly in another recent study, by bringing parents and kids into the lab to look at their real-time interactions.

Here, parents who’d reported on their levels of mindful parenting were asked to engage in a conversation with their 12- to 14-year-old children concerning a difficult conflict in their relationship. This conversation was recorded and analyzed to reveal how much parents expressed positive emotion, negative emotion, and shared positive emotion with their child. Then, these results were compared to the adolescent’s reported sexual behavior and drug use.

In their analysis, the researchers found that parents higher in mindful parenting demonstrated less negative emotion and more shared positive emotion with their children in the conversations than those lower in mindful parenting. In turn, sharing more positive emotion was associated with decreased drug use for the children (though not decreased sexual behavior).

“Mindful parenting matters, even when you’re parenting a teen, and it matters for risk behaviors,” says Chaplin. –as reported in mindful.org

An original Circle 4 Parents blog.
At Circle 4 Parents, we offer several different sessions related to mindfulness such as Mindful Mama, Mindful Eating, and Happiness: How to Live a Fullfilled Life. To learn more about all the sessions we offer, please visit https://circle4parents.com/sessions/.