The Coffee Shop Mindful Meditation: How to Get Here Now

We recently posted this article by Hugh Bryne, author of The Here and Now Habit. Read it over a few times till you get the hang of it. It is simple and can be done anywhere, anytime, anyhow. And, when done while parenting, especially when the stress hits the fan, you may find your ability to respond heightened rather than reacting (re-acting) the same old going nowhere battles. Note: You could even call it the Stopping at Traffic Light Meditation or Standing in Long Line at Grocery Store Meditation or a host of other names. You choose. Be creative.

The Coffee Shop Mindfulness Meditation: Here is part of a five-minute noting meditation I did in a coffee shop: “aware of tightness in my belly...song on the radio...pleasant feeling in response to the song...aware of voices...taste of coffee...creaking of the door opening and closing...thought that ‘they should oil the door’...high voice of barista...someone asks if she can sit down...I nod and smile ‘yes’...pleasant song on radio...wondering who the singer is...creaking door...tightness in belly in response to creaking...song...creaking...thinking how quickly coffee shop has filled up…”.

What's great about this practice is that nothing is 'wrong' if we can simply be aware of it and note it. We can step out of autopilot into awareness of our direct experience—where we can make healthy choices.
— Hugh Bryne, Author, The Here and Now Habit.

20 Steps to Cultivating Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

We now have it in schools, in coloring books, in business circles, in healthcare and in the news headlines everyday. Bryan has been talking about it in parenting long before it became fashionable. But the real issue is, is it in you? Is it just another great parenting idea or a regular practice for you? Be aware of your feelings and state of mind - and of your child. If you don't know what you feel and think, you may not know what to do. What sort of a role model would that be for your children? Learn More...

The Single Most Important Tool for Interrupting Stress – Bryan Post

The Power of Breathing
Spend 3 minutes with Bryan as he shares why breathing is so important and how it impacts your and your children's regulatory state. Learn to use this undervalued (yes, if you don't use it life will be uncomfortable if not short) and incredibly powerful tool every parent - person - other should be using intentionally and consciously daily if not moment-ly. Breathe, Love Will Enter, Peace Will Follow. - David Durovy

 

 

How Do You Handle Anger? How Does Your Child?

One of the most effective tools in a parent’s toolbox is anger. “Don’t make me get angry with you”! (As if they Angry-Black-Man-Holing-Earscould make us…). We don’t like it when our children get angry, we don’t like it when our spouse or boss gets angry, and if you are like me, you don’t even like it when you get angry. So why do we do it? More importantly, what is it, and how do we “not do it”? Hopefully you read our recent article that introduced Eric Barker and his blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree and got a good look at the neuroscience involved in the experience of anger. Really good stuff (if not, read it in the link below). Here is more about anger.

So Let’s talk more about anger.

We ran an article about How to not get angry — 3 Secrets from Neuroscience by Eric Barker which was viewed by many of our parents and professionals. The summary of Mr. Barker’s excellent article is:

"Here’s how to get rid of anger:
    1) Suppress rarely. They may not know you’re angry but you’ll feel worse inside and hurt the relationship.
    2) Don’t vent. Communication is good but venting just increases anger. Distract yourself.
    3) Reappraisal is usually the best option. Think to yourself, “It’s not about me. They must be having a bad day.”
    4) Practice forgiveness"

His research into neuroscience is well worth looking into. His simple four step process for working with this powerful emotion offers a breath of fresh air to many of us who are victims of our seemingly uncontrollable reactions. Some of us even go so far as to say, "I have a right to be angry with you". Well, perhaps a right to feel your anger - and we even encourage that, but the "right" to blast, rant, rave, scream, throw things, or worse is certainly an option of yours to choose, but perhaps not the best for you or your child.

But, let’s look at anger from a different perspective…  how about needs not being met? There are many references to fear being underneath the emotion of anger. When we are afraid, we react with anger. Because we are afraid, we bring out the big guns - our anger and rage. (That should scare them off!)

But let’s roll that back one more level. What is the fear? Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for Non Violent Communication puts this in a perspective that allows anger to be seen simply as a sign that one’s needs are not being met. End of story. And, that feelings of depression, guilt and blame along with anger are all tragic expressions of one's needs not being met.

How-not-to-handle-angerSo when I am feeling afraid that my needs are not or will not be met, not knowing how to communicate this and feeling powerless, lacking the tools or feeling like I don’t deserve my needs being met for some reason, I use anger as a way to get my way. So do I want to be angry? Do I have a right to be angry? If that is the only way I know of to get my needs met, well yes, I guess I can and most of the time do choose anger.

The ironic part of this story is that anger is rarely met with my needs being met. At least in the “everybody feels good about the outcome” way. A boss may get the employee to do what needs to be done, or parent may get the child to do what the parent wants, but at what cost do these things play out? Fear > Anger > Control > Rebellion > Fear.

And what stops us parents from asking an angry child, “honey, what are your needs right now that are not being met”? Often times I think it is the fear that they will ask for something that we cannot/will not/refuse to give them so the cycle will begin again. So we don't go there.

But will it?

Once needs are identified, three things have occurred:
1)    A conversation — not a fight;
2)    You get to know your child better, and yourself hopefully;
3)    You have the opportunity to go even deeper, as in… “If you got to ________, how would that make you feel, as in what need would be met? And the conversation would continue. “Oh I see, if you got to go to the dance, you would get to see _______ and would feel _______. I wonder if there might be any other way you can meet your need?

Granted, since children at all ages are often not so logical or reasonable, so you are really looking in-between the lines for unconscious emotional issues. Will this always resolve things without fighting with your kids? You know better. But does it open up options to what may be a fight into what could be a conversation? You can guess that too.

And if all comes down to just another battle, you can always quit fighting and forgive. Barker points out the value of forgiveness as a tool for less anger and more heath. Imagine a world where we all come to realize that forgiveness is “not for them, it’s for you. He says:

"Forgiveness makes you less angry and more healthy: Trait forgiveness was significantly associated with fewer medications and less alcohol use, lower blood pressure and rate pressure product; state forgiveness was significantly associated with lower heart rate and fewer physical symptoms. Neither of these sets of findings were the result of decreased levels of anger-out being associated with forgiveness. These findings have important theoretical implications regarding the forgiveness–health link, suggesting that the benefits of forgiveness extend beyond the dissipation of anger."

In summary — How to understand anger as a tool for making things more wonderful for ourselves and children:

  • Feel your anger. Notice the signs, the symptoms, the signals and the sensations in your body. Your stomach, your hands and your breath can all be good indicators of a coming storm. If you miss these, you will likely go "over the falls of reactivity" and become of victim, along with your child, of your anger;
  • Don’t suppress — this only makes things worse, unhealthy, (but don’t beat anyone up instead either);
  • Don’t vent — unhealthy, makes things worse;
  • Reappraise — I wonder what prompted or triggered her behavior? It’s not about me;
  • Forgive — This is about me, not about them;
  • Identify the need not being met and see what can be done “to make life more wonderful” as Rosenberg likes to say.

So, what need of your is not being met? What would make life more wonderful for you? Now, find someone to share that with and see what comes about.

Have a calm and wonderful day!

Practice Mindfulness – Eat Chocolate – And Be a Better Parent?

31-free-buttons Strange as it may seem. We talk often about mindfulness, and it has become a buzzword in the media. It is box of chocos popping up everywhere, yet it seems to be shrouded in quasi-mystical words and descriptions which often leads to more questions and confusion. It is really a very simple practice (not easy mind you and does require practice) that can be utilized by anyone — man, woman or child. It is just being aware of what you are not aware of. And being aware of what you are already aware of, but instead of pushing it away, you engage with it in a manner of allowing what is present to ” just be”. After all we are human "beings” and not human “doings”.

So let us begin to just “be” a little more in our life and allow others–especially our children to just be who they are. This I find is the quickest way to change. Paradoxical? Think about it. There is a saying, “you can’t get there from here”. When in fact the only way to get there is from here. What is true, is “you can’t get there from there”. So if you are not “here” with your experience, you cannot get “there” to the other side of the experience and will in some way continue on, in an unending, oft-repeating pattern of experience/behavior/emotions wondering why you keep going through the same old stuff in your life over and over and over and …  So, take a break. Have some chocolate (or raisins if you prefer) and practice your parenting skills in a different way. And, the next time your child acts out, you might just say, "hey, let's have a piece of chocolate!"

Food of the gods2“Mindful eating is a practice to slow down the mind to be present in those moment- to- moment activities. Eating is one practice of Mindfulness. Most commercials for chocolates use an image of someone savoring a piece of chocolate with their eyes closed along with a message that encourages us to loose ourselves in the moment. Mindfulness eating is a practice that encourages paying attention to our bodies reaction to the senses that eating stimulates or uses. Sight, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds all play a part in mindfulness. The history or story of how food made it to your mouth is also a form of mindfulness. Thinking of who grew the food, where it was grown, who harvested it and how was it made can really slow down your eating experience and make it much more enjoyable and gratifying. Chocolate is a good choice to use to describe mindful eating. Concentrate on how your senses are being stimulated. Simply just sow down and enjoy this simple, yet complex everyday event called eating.” — Source: Tracie Abram, Michigan State University Extension

How to Rid Yourself of Fear

Sick and tired enough of being sick and tired of being fearful and helpless about your life with challenging children?

Fear_NoDo you ever really consider what fear is? Do you ever experience it? Do you know what it really feels like in your body? Where you experience it? If so, how do you deal with it?

Bryan talks about fear a lot as you know. Fear vs love for example is not the "horror/scary story" fear - although it can feel like that at times. Like when you know school has ended and it is about time for your child to be walking through the door and your reaction is one of "oh - no, here we go again". I used to feel this when driving home from work every single day.

You can feel it in your stomach — it is real, it is visceral and it is not fun. Fear that your child will never survive their teen years let alone adulthood. For many of us, it is not what university they might attend but what prison will they be in — and that is if they are not dead. I remember feeling glad when people asked about our RAD poster child son that he was neither dead nor in jail after he finally graduated from high school (four different high schools including two "special behavior" schools and numerous home schooling attempts later).
Yet for many of us, fear keeps on repeating itself day after day after ...

And these are just our fears as a parent. Not to mention our child's fears which may make ours look like a "walk in the park" if we really knew their experience.

Into the Silent LandSo it is with this in mind that we share something that offers an invitation few of us would accept, but just maybe we are just sick and tired enough of being sick and tired of being fearful and helpless about our lives with our challenging children!

“If you want to know the true nature of fear, look straight into it. Fear, anger, envy — any afflictive thought or feeling — cannot withstand a direct gaze. But if we look at the story and feed on the story we tell ourselves of our fear, anger, envy, etc., affliction thrives. Affliction feeds off the noise of the commenting chattering mind.”Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird.

What is the take home lesson? Parents, watch what you think and say to start with, then watch if any behaviors extend from these and just stop them. Yes, just like that. Any behavior that does not come from love comes from fear. So parents, just say "stop". You will find your child responding more like this the more you respond more like this. To read more about this interesting book and approach, click here.

Why Pro Athletes are Trying ‘Mindfulness Training,’ and Why You Should Too

Baseball MinfulnessA big article in June 3, 2015 USA Today says, “Mental Coaches Are Next Step in Conditioning as Baseball Teams Try to Tap Into Players’ Heads”. If professional sports is focused on this mushrooming practice, why not us parents? Read this quote and notice the similarity to what many, including us, have been promoting – “New York Mets rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki said his organization’s psychologist taught him to use a deep breath as a reset button, a trigger to stay in control of the moment. “You can get kind of amped up, and breathing, as corny as it sounds, can really slow things down for you… It’s helped me out. Whenever I feel things speeding up, I just take a deep breath and refocus.” Corny? We don’t think so Kevin.

Way back in 2014 the application of mindfulness was in high gear on Pro sports. High performance psychologist Michael Gervais, who works with the Seahawks and with other teams in the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL, defines mindfulness as “the practice of being present4 Pillars text … a way of being connected to the present moment without judgment.” He also describes it as an “awareness of how I’m doing within myself, how I’m engaging in my environment and the interplay of the two.”

The mental benefits one can realize over time “can be life altering,” Gervais says. "With practice, mindfulness provides a clarity of your own thoughts and a training ground to be able to guide your mind, as well as access incredible, truthful insights.” For more on this discussion click here.

Mindfulness is one of the Four Pillars of Post Parenting.
Parents – Breathe, love will enter. Peace will follow. Repeat as needed

How to deal with the trauma of dealing a traumatized child

Mindfulness can help parents deal with the trauma of dealing with their traumatized child. Here is a short but elegant medical/scientific explanation of how memories work and affect our state of mind. Professor Levine (Brian Levine, Ph.D, is a professor in the departments of psychology and medicine, Division of Neurology, and a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences) says ...

"These days, we’re constantly being encouraged to “live in the present” to reduce anxiety and improve well-being. It’s good advice, but pushing away bad memories — or being cut off from them is unproductive. Nobody would enjoy living in the permanent present tense with a negative past memory experience. Being stuck in time is like prison. We need access to the past in order to be free from it.

People often talk about the need to “process” something bad that happened to them. At the same time, we all know it’s unhelpful to dwell, or ruminate. Many people struggle to understand the difference between the two, and this is where we run into problems.
Be Mindful
Memories are stored in the connections between brain cells, referred to as “traces.” When we recall an event, that memory trace is reactivated, then stored again along with events that are happening now. This process is known as reconsolidation. Rumination reinforces the bad memory by pairing it with negativity, digging it deeper into the brain and giving it a more powerful hold on us. On the other hand, when memories of past events are observed in a non-judgmental way, they can be reconsolidated and stored without being evaluated as bad or good. This technique puts ideas, thoughts, feelings and perceptions into perspective, placing a bit of distance between you and the event. This can help to heal from trauma and depressive thought patterns. event...to read more click here

Parental Self Awareness

B eyes closed cropParental self awareness is the ability to look at one’s self from moment to moment during parent/child interaction and ask one’s self, “How am I feeling?". If you can do this as needed, you can make it through anything. Miss this step and you might miss that window of self-regulation and head down the road to reactivity.

This level of awareness brings you into the moment, the present, and this is where love lies. When you can meet your child in the present without all of the worries of the future and efforts to correct the past, then you will be parenting from a place of love, parenting in the now. You may also use this toward yourself, spouse, family etc. Keep in mind that this is the journey, and you cannot get there from "there". You can only get there from "here"

Calm the Stress, Diminish the Behavior: for Parent AND Child

The parent can foster the environment necessary to calm, or regulate, the bodymind state of stress through understanding, being mindful of, and encouraging the expression of fear or the feelings stemming from it. This is the key to diminishing undesirable behavior. All behavior arises from stress. To eliminate negative behavior you must strive to trigger the oxytocin response in your child. It is the experience of the love hormone which helps the body ultimately to calm stress thereby decreasing or eliminating negative behavior.

B_eyes_closed_cropLike any habit, the more you integrate the practice of mindfulness into your day, the stronger it becomes in your short term memory, and the more likely it is to be retrieved in difficult moments. Like love, mindfulness doesn’t change your child’s behaviors, it changes the way you experience everything. This present moment experience offers your child the opportunity to be truly accepted and loved – unconditionally – non-judgmentally for who they are. A glorious place for a child to be. With fear, threats and survival out of the way, their behaviors in turn can come from a regulated frame of mind. Calm the stress, diminish the behavior. But first of all you the parent must come from this place – and visit it often.

Choose love.

– B
(Read more articles by Bryan Post)