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"

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Breath-ButtonGet comfortable with being uncomfortable. As parents, our job is to help gently access suppressed emotions, both in our children and ourselves. In general, these are emotions that we ordinarily prefer not to acknowledge. The intent here is to deliberately allow this to occur because these suppressed emotions are the unconscious triggers that cause behaviors and circumstances that are not in our best interests. This means, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Our desire to manipulate or change our children’s behaviors so that we feel more comfortable comes from our inability to just show up and enjoy the wonder of whatever happens exactly as it is. How we interact with what is happening in each moment sows the seeds for what is to come. The quality of those seeds depends upon whether we react or respond.

Michael Brown, is his book The Presence Process, clarifies the difference between reacting and responding. He says,” reacting to our Presence Process bookexperiences means we make decisions based on what we believe happened yesterday and what we think may happen tomorrow. In contrast, we respond to our experiences when we make choices based on what’s happening right here, right now. This response draws on the wisdom we derive from past experience, whereas reactivity is driven by the unresolved trauma that’s embedded in us. Once we integrate the energetic patterns that underlie our behavior and beliefs, It’s possible to respond to all our experiences rather than reacting”.

Although this is something we all must do for ourselves, by being role models for our children in this way also enhances our ability to go deeply into the trauma and pain that our children have experienced so that we no longer are bound by our own fears and concerns. As I have said, you cannot take your children where you have not gone yourself in pursuing uncomfortable suppressed emotional states. So the more we can just be, the more our children will be able to "just be". When there is no longer a need to communicate through behaviors, there are no unwanted behaviors – those that no longer serve the greatest good. Your children know this.

Peace that Passeth All Understanding: Emodiversity

A recent post of mine (http://postinstitute.com/blog/2015/02/18/the-way-to-find-peace/) discussed how peace is not about feeling good, it’s about feeling everything–a concept that may have astounded some people. As parents of very challenging children, we are often at the edge of our wits and emotional tolerance, and want more than anything, just a little peace. We have had it, we are tired, worn out and in some cases desperate for a break. It may be that the break we seek is always right there/here with us - closer to us than we are to ourselves.

A recent article (http://www.mindful.org April 2015) entitled Emodiversity: The Key to Happiness, asked if the route to happiness was simply to feel more positive emotions and fewer negative ones?

Research is beginning to show a strong rebuttal to the argument that feeling good is the way to be happy. It appears that Emodiversity–a measurement that includes positive emotions and negative emotions, and considers the level, the variety and abundance) showed that people with a mixture of both, (high emodiversity) were less likely to be depressed than people with positive motions alone. Two research studies from four countries and six institutions–including Yale University and Harvard Business School–surveyed over 36,000 people, found that emodiversity had a positive effect on people’s emotional health as well as on their physical health (less medication use, lower government healthcare costs and fewer doctors visits/days spent in the hospital.

Although this may be considered astounding to some, those who practice mindfulness can attest to the reality that experiencing whatever emotional content arises within us, and is allowed to be experienced non-judgmentally, yields a greater ability to both endure, allow and remain open to whatever is present for us circumstantially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Mindfulness equips us with a powerful tool, not to protect us from our boat being rocked, but to be able to enjoy the swim if such occurs. Jesus once said, “Resist not evil” (Matt. 5:39). Mindfulness is one of the best ways I can think of to resist not evil.

Be at peace.

Why Can’t I Change?


Q: I have read your material, I have listened to your CDs and I have watched your videos. Yet, I still find myself parenting from the old traditional paradigm of power and authority rather than from love. Why is this so difficult?

A: This question is, in general an excellent one and stymies many parents. So consider this advice for us all. We don’t listen. And when we do listen we don’t really hear. And when we do hear, we don’t believe what we’re hearing. And when we do believe what we’re hearing we don’t practice it. Becoming mindful of this process, and where we get stuck, is the first step to breaking the cycle of “why not”.

So how do we change?

  1. We listen to the material.
  2. We hear the message as in… we understand, agree to move forward with, even if we don’t fully agree with the material – we work with the info, process it, ask questions, wrestle with it. Try to see the truth therein.
  3. We believe it, or we believe in it enough to be willing to try it out – to move ahead. We take a stand and say yes.
  4. We put it into practice. We try it out wholeheartedly as if our life depended on it, or at least our child’s life. And if all else fails, we fake it till we make it as they say.

The paradigm of love is not something to ‘believe in’. If that is the case for you, then you may be at the “don’t really hear” part. mom stressing end lying 350wWe don’t practice love because we ‘believe’ in it (although for some, that is a good start, but certainly not the end). Beliefs are often not practiced. We practice love because we feel it, because we realize we are it. Because when we look at our child, we see, we know, we feel the pain, the struggle, the heartbreak that they have experienced.

It is not a belief to be called upon in a moment of stressful behavior, although once again, it does help if we are notHeart New feeling it, to be able to take a moment, to step back, to breathe and to feel not only our own stress and pain in that moment – which for many of us may be the very first time we are “really feeling it”, but to be able to connect with our child’s pain (or spouses, or friend or parent). Once we connect and feel, love is no longer a belief – and it is no longer a choice, it just is. And that dear parent, is where the real work – and the fun – begins. We don’t choose love to change our child, we do it to change everything.

Mindfulness – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

  3 Steps to Becoming More Mindful

“Mindfulness. If you’re still thinking this is merely a touchy-feely trend practiced by yogis, creatives and the business elite – you’re way behind. Thousands of people in organizations around the world are now benefiting from the improved performance, communication, relationships and self-mastery being mindful brings. More than 40 universities now offer ‘mindfulness in medicine’ training. ‘Mindful schools’ have touched over 300,000 students in 43 countries. Law schools are in on it. Even the US Special Forces has a ‘mind-fitness’ training program.”

4 Pillars textMindfulness is one of my favorite topics and one of the essential tools for your Parenting Toolbox. In fact, I consider it one of the Four Pillars of Post Parenting. Although it may be perceived as new age mumbo-jumbo and is often presented as a meditation technique or practice, it has a life of its own as a basic self-awareness tool for getting to know oneself - as was written on the temple wall at Delphi in Greece 2,000 years ago - "Know Thyself". It is as old as Jesus (actually older) and as modern and practical as an iPhone 6 - even more practical when it comes to parenting. If we are not mindful, we end up mind-less and parenting (living) on autopilot and reinforcing the old reactionary paradigms and traditions that have been passed down from generations. Mindfulness is an idea whose time has come.

We are always pleased to find articles and information that puts mindfulness in a league of it’s own and shows how valuable a tool it can be no matter what fields of interest, professions, traditions, religious beliefs or considerations and opinions about personal development or Google Quote v4self-improvement may be. Without it we are the blind leading the blind.

Mindfulness has been popularly defined by the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) which says that is it paying attention, in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgementally. Another definition is "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. However you say it, mindfulness is a lifetime engagement - not to get somewhere else, but to be where and as we actually are in this very moment, whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

Melcrum Ltd. recently published an article Success from the Inside Out which says just this. “It’s this quality of mindfulness, or ‘executive presence’, that helps people to see their current reality more clearly; to distinguish more objectively what’s going on and to be more mindful of their internal reality – the thoughts, feelings and what’s happening in their minds and bodies – as well as how they’re leading their organizations. Mindfulness enables us to monitor more, so we can manage our internal and external resources more effectively.”

We hope you enjoy this perspective and, as always join the conversation and let us know what you think.

Have a calm and peaceful day. -- David

Reprinted with generous permission from Melcrum Ltd. Learn About Melcrum
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Anger Will Not Calm Anger

ANGER WILL NOT CALM ANGER. If a child comes to you and is angry and annoys you, and you get angry and annoyed at their being angry and annoyed and start acting angry and annoyed, it will not calm them down.

silouette finger pointingAnger is real. Anger is acceptable as are all our emotions. How we use it, and what we do with it are key elements to not only improving our parenting (all relationships) but in revisiting our own buried past. I sometimes feel that if I am angry when I give my children commands, it will be more effective because then they will KNOW that I am serious. What does serious mean here? It means that something worse is coming and you better fear this or else....

Let's look at the reverse. When a child is angry, they are serious. It is a red flag. If we don't help them here, we can expect an "or else" from them. David wrote an article in one of our Parenting Toolbox (#41) emails that addressed this.

"I heard about a parent recently who, when the child refused to mow the lawn, started the process of taking privileges away. The more she took away, the more out of control the behavior grew. This culminated with the child - now too big to physically handle - pushed the front windshield of the car out with his feet while mom was driving. Next step was either taking him to the police station, the ER or a psychiatric facility or ?. I know how this goes. I have been there. It breaks my heart to hear stories like this, when, if, we could just remember Bryan Post’s most basic teaching. Stress is at the root of all behaviors and bad behaviors stem from fear. So he says, scared kids to scary things.

To learn more about the debilitating effects of reacting rather than responding, click below to read more and to listen to two short audio clips on Negative Feedback Loops.

Feel Like You Are Going in Circles?
Maybe because you are.
Neurophysiologic Feedback Loops: The more we react, the more we react. It's really that simple.
To learn about this easy to recognize this phenomenon, visit here.

Neurological Feedback Loops #1 - 3:18 min.

Neurological Feedback Loops #2 - 4:38 min.




Feel What You Feel

Brain Science by a Brain ScientistI have been presenting information regarding 'feeling what you feel' and other aspects that involve Mindfulness (i.e., paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to whatever is arising inwardly and outwardly). Learning to feel at the level of sensory input I describe as 'the longest journey in the world - the 18 inches from your head to your heart'.

Sadly, we spend most of our lives in our heads with thinking being the prime focus of our attention. Thinking has it's place in our lives, but should be so directed by us when we want and need it rather than that which directs our behaviors and actions. Good parenting requires our being able to feel, and model that behavior to our children.

There is an important physiologic reasoning behind this and Jill Bolte Taylor has addressed this in her book. If we are not in touch with 'what we feel' (not emotionally mind you, but with our senses), we have to 'interpret' that which is happening instead of 'knowing through experience' what is. This puts parents at a great disadvantage of knowing what our children are going through and puts us back into 'what we have been taught traditionally, triggering the old paradigm parenting approaches that only lead to the way things have been.

"As information processing machines, our ability to process data about the external world begins at the level of sensory perception. Although most of us are rarely aware of it our sensory receptors are designed to detect information at the energy level. Because everything around us–the air we breathe, even the materials we use to build with–are composed of spinning and vibrating atomic particles, you and I are literally swimming in a turbulent sea of electromagnetic fields. We are part of it. We are enveloped within it, and through our sensory apparatus we experience what is." - My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

Jill Bolte Taylor wrote this exciting treatise on her experience with a stroke that offered her a rare opportunity to see this event from a her exhaustive brain scientist's vast experience of research on the brain. She has many examples of corollaries to what I teach and I will be sharing these with you. Especially valuable for those wanting to know more from of the science behind the psychology of what we teach.

Parent Calm Thyself First

I was recently lecturing at the Michigan Association for Adoption, Foster, and Kinship Families in Lansing, Michigan and an adoptive mom asked this question...
"What do I do when my 8 yr old becomes aggressive with me?"

I asked her to get up and come to the front of the room and demonstrate exactly what she meant.

I pulled up two chairs and sat her down next to me and I said, "Now tell me what the aggression looks like?” She said, "We'll be sitting next to one another often times in public and she'll elbow me so know no one else can see it.”

I said, “Okay great. I’ll be your daughter and you be you.” Then I elbowed her.

She looked at me and said, “I felt you do that and I don’t like it!” So then I elbowed her again. She got up. I got up and yelled at her and she said she was going to her room. At this point I stopped and said, “Now I’m you and I just went to my room, you follow me and do what she does.” She followed me. (Remember we are in a big conference room and now over on the side of the audience against the wall.) I act as though I’ve closed my door. At this point mom says, “I go into my room to try to calm myself but she’s now banging on the door, and while she’s doing that I’m on the other side telling her that when she calms down I’ll come out.” I said, "then you aren’t calming yourself down". She said, "what do you mean? I’m trying to tell her that when she calms down I’ll come out.” And I again I said, “Then you aren’t really calming yourself down.” I said, “Act like you are behind your door and I’m your daughter.” I start to bang on the wall as she’s trying to tell me once I calm down she will come out and then I start to scream and she’s still trying to tell me that once I calm down she’ll come out and then I start to scream and kick the wall in the conference room and yell, “Don’t leave me, don’t abandon me, don’t reject me.” And I’m screaming louder and louder until I can’t even hear the mom. Then I stop.

I looked at her and say again, “You aren’t working on getting yourself calm behind the door. You are trying to get me calm. Until you get yourself calm, you cannot calm me.” Then the light bulb went off and she got it.

It’s really basic brain science. When we as parents are stressed out we emit cortisol. When our children are stressed out they are emitting cortisol. If we don’t calm ourselves down and turn on our oxytocin hormone (the brain’s anti-stress hormone) then we can’t help our children turn on theirs.

This role play didn’t stop there. We went on for another ten minutes and had a second breakthrough. I’ll share that with you in a while.

Choose Love,