Breathe in deeply. Lengthen your spine. Bend your knee. Twist to the left. Relax your muscles.
Aaahh, the common instructions which echo through every yoga studio and continue to ring in our ears till the moment we roll up our mats and return to our respective “roles” – off the mat and out of the studio, all of us are a son or daughter, a sibling, a friend, or a parent to someone.
When we were in school, there were school rules to abide by. Now, in the work field, there are work guidelines and protocols to adhere to. Yet those who embark on the amazing journey of parenthood are bravely stepping into the world where no manuals will be provided. There are no teachers to assure us that we are on the right track, no managers to remind us of deadlines, and no yoga instructors to remind us to take a deep breath in, and certainly there is no one to provide us with the to-dos when managing a household. And the most exciting part of a household is that each member has a unique and individual personality, filled with unique characters and unique needs. We are one of them too!
Being parents, how do we mind all the needs of our family members while minding ourselves too, when the bottomless list of to-dos often leaves us baffled and turns us into scatter brains?
The answer is One-pointedness.
The ancient and wise yogic text speaks extensively about one-pointedness. It stresses on the importance of being aware and mindful by concentrating on our tasks as this is one of the ingredients in the recipe for success. Now, how, you may ask?
First and foremost we need to practice mindfulness. Being mindful and aware simply means calming our thoughts enough to be aware of the present moment and of what we are doing, or rather, what we are required to do right here, right now. It is crucial to understand the most important moment is “now” – “just now” has passed, and “later” hasn’t arrived yet. So, it is essential that we focus on “now”. This awareness is then magnified when teamed with attention and positive intentions. Having said that, practicing mindfulness in this current fast-paced society can appear to be more challenging that it sounds.
Being a parent often requires one to be observant and tactful – observant to the family members’ needs and tactful when providing necessary intervention or guidance. This speaks volumes for both the working parents and the stay-at-home parents. The amount of attention garnering tasks which parents have to juggle on a daily basis deserves a standing ovation.
Now, let’s look at some of the ways which can help us to be more aware and mindful when caring for the household.
In order to achieve our goals, we need to persevere and work towards continuation. Practice makes perfect. We might make mistakes or get diverted along the way. But these trials and errors are means to show us clarity. Once we learn the way it’s best we maintain consistency. This includes consistency in communication with the members of the family, especially when responding to children. Children often compare themselves with their siblings and if they notice parents providing inconsistent response to them, it may be perceived as parents having special preference for another sibling and this may cause confusion and discontentment.
Maintain Your Calm
Some would compare managing a household and raising children to entering a minefield of emotions. Truth be told, there is bound to be conflict of opinions and this needs to be met with a calm mind. Outbursts will only be met with similar outbursts and there’s no point in participating in a relay of outbursts as it will not bring any solution. When you are faced with challenging tasks or confrontations, take a moment to take a deep breath in and allow yourself some time to relax before responding. This technique allows us time to think and respond with clarity rather than impulsively.
Adults make mistakes too. The important thing is to acknowledge that we’ve made a mistake, followed by efforts to correct them accordingly and learn from (the mistakes), and strive to be better. This applies to our communication with the children as well. Be a brave parent who is not afraid to apologise if a mistake is made. By doing this, we are in fact showing the children that admitting to our mistake and apologising do not make us a weakling, but someone who is strong and honest in rectifying mistakes.
Rejoice with Gratitude
Being grateful for our current situation is a gratifying feeling through and through. People who experience and express gratitude will find themselves perpetually radiating inner joy. As a family, spending time pointing out things which we are grateful for allows us to have a glimpse of each individual’s point of view and priorities. It builds understanding and respect. These qualities, when shown to children will nurture their hearts.
Be In Tune
Just as we always talk about working on balancing the mind and body so they can work in sync, the formula for a harmonious family is just the same. When parents open up their eyes and ears to genuinely observe and listen to the voices of their children, they will most definitely be able to fine-tune their understanding with each other. This positive communication will undoubtedly open up each other’s hearts as well. The key is to be open to communication without judgement. Answers met with judgement and/or sarcasm will only lead to turning off of interest to communicate any further.
If ever we are unsure if we are on the right track, take a moment and have a heart to heart communication with our wise little “consultants” – our children. Only when we listen with an open heart, will we be enlightened by their purity, honesty and sincerity.
Below are ten questions which we can ask our children, and their answers will help us understand their perspective better and enable us to look deeper into ourselves, and the projection of our characters.
1. Which three words do you think best describe you?
2. Which three words do you think best describe daddy/mommy?
3. What does daddy/mommy look like when he/she is happy?
4. What does daddy/mommy look like when he/she is angry or upset?
5. When do you feel the happiest?
6. What is the most important thing to you?
7. What is the hardest thing to do as a child?
8. What is the most amazing thing that your mommy and daddy ever say to you?
9. What is the most amazing thing that your mommy and daddy ever did for you?
10. What makes your family special?
This article was featured in YogaMail Jan-Mac 2016 issue.