- Reduce stress and anxiety,
- Improve focus and
- Deal with difficult emotions.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is bringing conscious, nonjudgmental attention to the present moment. Whether you are joyfully witnessing a first in your child’s life, or scrubbing ‘art’ off the living room walls, mindfulness can enhance joy and decrease suffering.
Over the last decade working with families, I have noticed that parents and children are experiencing greater levels of stress-related illness than ever before. Increased screen time, highly scheduled lives, and the desire to “get somewhere” are all contributing to this reality.
Anxiety and (most) stress are a result of where we have been (and what we think about it) or where we are going (and what we think about that). Neither of them are rooted in the here and now. Mindfulness brings attention to the present moment, thus, decreasing stress and anxiety, rebalancing the nervous system, and creating more space for joy.
How do I begin?
I would love to tell you that mindfulness takes no time or effort and you will see great results. However, that would be a lie. Mindfulness is not a miracle. Mindfulness, like anything that will change your life for the better in long-term ways, takes commitment. Not unreasonable, impossible, ‘there is no way to fit it into my life’ commitment, but commitment.
Make the time
If you have never practiced meditation or mindfulness before, I suggest beginning with an intention to practice 3-4 times per week for 5-10 minutes. (That could be just 15 minutes per week!) I suggest choosing a specific time of day. Morning often works for people (depending when your kids get up), or just before bed.
Make the space
Choose an area of your house to practice consistently. Choose a cushion, or perhaps set a table with a candle. Be intentional about setting the space as this place will hold the energy of your practice. You may choose a visible place where your children are able to observe your practice, or you may choose a quiet place away from busyness.
This practice is informed by Eline Snel’s book Sitting Still like a Frog and also “The Welcoming Prayer” as taught by Cynthia Bourgeault in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.
Get comfortable in your space. Tell your family what you are up to. Set a timer.
Light a candle and take a few long, slow, deep breaths.
- Stillness and Presence: Repeat in your mind, “I am here”. Allow these words to flow in and out on your breath.
- Acknowledging: Check in with your inner landscape. What is the weather report inside? (Cloudy, sunny, rainy, stormy? etc.)
- Welcoming: “I welcome ________ (rain, sun, storm etc)”. Allow this phrase to flow in and out on your breath.
- Letting go: “I let go of rain, sun, storm etc”. This step may or may not happen. You may not be ready to let go. That is okay. Be gentle with this step. The intention is to change how you are relating to it.
For example: On a rainy Vancouver day we don't try to stop it from raining, but we might change our relationship to the rain by getting an umbrella. We don't try to stop the sun, but we might seek shade.
- Align with your inner inner stance: Despite how you may be feeling inside, you can choose the inner stance you take in your life and your parenting. You can choose how you wish to operate in the world. Eline Snel suggests that Presence, Understanding and Acceptance are three qualities that help create a relaxed atmosphere in the home. Perhaps choose one of them to align with each day.
Family Wellness Consultant, Yoga Therapist, Energy Healer
Christina has over 10 years experience working with children, youth and families. She blends her expertise in child and youth mental health, addictions and family development counselling with her experience in yoga therapy, energy healing and mindfulness meditation to help support and restore health to whole families.
Christina is the founder of Kinchara, a Vancouver-based business that offers programs to families and professionals that explore health from a holistic (mind, body, spirit) and community-based perspective. Christina also provides individual family sessions as part of the “Whole Family Journey” program. These sessions are customized to meet the needs of families struggling with anxiety, stress, behavioural challenges, ADHD and more.
For more information about Kinchara and the services Christina offers, please visit christinakinch.com.