I have to confess children and mindfulness do not tend to work in harmony together. In fact it is often a challenge just to be…well…normal.
So even though I am a yoga teacher, I still find being mindful (i.e. living in the moment and observing thoughts and feelings from a distance) somewhat challenging. I am fully aware that the opposite of being mindful is living in the past and thinking about the future (i.e. shrouded in your own personal fiction), but sometimes, I rather like living in fiction.
However, I do like to challenge myself, especially having read that stress is just in the mind, which means it does not exist. How great would that be to extinguish stress from our lives or at least our thoughts? This I had to test…which I did while stuck in a traffic jam and late to an appointment. Normally I would be stressed by this situation. Yet I sat in the car, listened to music and adopted a “whatever” attitude. So it worked…for one day.
Although, the next day my children (two and seven years old) were antagonising each other and, producing headache inducing screams. I questioned whether the person, who said stress does not exist, actually had children, because…it damn well does. But because I was being mindful I took myself to a quiet corner, did some yogic breathing and calmed down. So far, so good.
By mid-week I was dealing with one toddler with one epic toddler tantrum, but I had to be mindful about this and not be stressed. So I found the best way to handle this was from the other side of the room, sitting on the sofa, and with a cup of tea. So although I did not want to be ‘in the moment’, I managed to win in this situation by ‘observing’ the moment. Later I re-lived a childhood memory with my son blowing bubbles and making a wish. My wish? Not to agree to any more challenges. But actually that moment with my son was the calmest I had felt all week.
The rest of the week was all about reminding myself to be mindful while coping as a single mother, working to deadlines, teaching and constantly running to appointments.
So the conclusion? Well I am not entirely convinced that stress doesn’t exist. However, I do think that through mindfulness, stress can be managed better when we work with it, rather than against it. And also realising that even if a day seems full of negatives in amidst a stressful day, there is always a positive…if you really look.
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