What Yoga Teaches Us About Parenting

Yoga and parentingYoga, like parenting, is a lifelong practice that confronts us with all facets of ourselves. We have good days and not so good days, but our role is to keep showing up and paying attention.

In making yoga a regular part of your lifestyle, particularly if you have a home practice away from the encouragement and motivation of a class or teacher, you may be familiar with those days when your practice feels more like a stale routine than a discovery tour. You may find your practice lacks that sense of exploration and investigation that brings with it the magic, the freshness, the learning. The little things that keep our attention focused – noticing the subtleties of how our body feels in the pose today, paying attention to the wandering thoughts of the mind or watching the breath, etc. There is much to pay attention to for both the novice and the experienced practitioner alike and by keeping the mind engaged in this way we come to experience present moment awareness and the meditative-like state during our practice.

Repetition, however, often sees us switch to auto-pilot. It is much easier to have a beginners mind when we are new to something. We have a natural curiosity and a sense of awe and wonder that keeps the mind alert and engaged. This is far less likely when we are dealing with the familiar and we feel we can predict the outcome.

It takes a lot of mental skill and mindful attention to approach the familiar with a beginners mind.

As a parent I wrestle with my auto-pilot responses regularly. They serve as a shorthand way of addressing issues that come up repeatedly. It is a way to avoid having to re-invent the wheel every time I am called upon to settle the same arguments or make the same requests. It is very tempting when we have been over this same ground many times before (many!).  It is, however, also a way of disengaging. I am somehow just going through the motions and doing what I have always done. As with yoga, if I am not fully present whilst parenting my children I miss out on gaining valuable insight. If I am unable to approach an all-too-familiar situation with a fresh eye I am unable to find new solutions. I also miss out on staying present to my own experience in the moment. This leaves me more likely to be tossed around by the emotional waves that rush toward me in the challenging moments and lose sight of my parenting values.

Whether we are performing a long series of sun salutations in our yoga practice or repeatedly revisiting the same conversations with our children about unresolved issues, staying present with what our experience is helps us to grow and learn, and ultimately feel more engaged with life and with our children.

If you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.

How to have an honest chat with yourself

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Still your body

Settle your thoughts

Focus your attention on the clean, white page before you that will soon hold all of your answers.

Wait,

I feel you scuttling away

To get some tea, to tidy up , to quickly attend to another matter.

We circle, but rarely land.

It’s time now, to come home.

The answers you are seeking are right before you.

They are hiding in the empty lines, buried under the surface of that crisp, white page.

Until you mark them with your thoughts, your own truth will remain untold.

Stay seated right where you are, in your own dilemma,

For without this commitment you will continue facing a crisp white page that has much potential,

But no answers.

 
 

How To Exchange 15 Minutes Of Your Time For Something Of Value

Michelle iphone photos July 2014 033If we don’t consciously choose how to use our time, those precious spare moments or hours will be lost to unrewarding filler.

Time slips away, whether or not we choose to use it wisely. Even a window of 15 minutes can bring rich rewards if spent consciously. Whilst there are some more obvious ways of spending 15 minutes wisely, like meditation or perhaps  breathing exercises, there are other activities just a little outside the box that I know you will find worthwhile.  Here is a list that I think is a good trade for 15 minutes of my valuable time.

Pick from the menu below to find your own fair exchange. Perhaps you are looking for connectedness, stillness, efficiency, fitness, love and more. They are all available at the very low price of 15 minutes of your time. Ready to trade?

1. $15 for 15 minutes

I recently went to one of those drop-in-for-a-quickie places for the first time. I had 15 minutes to spare before collecting the after-school gaggle and, in desperate need of some body work, I scanned the menu for 15 minute options. Fast forward a mere 15 minutes and I was transformed. The quiet, the smell of rose-geranium, the firm but nurturing hands of the therapist made this a value-packed 15 minutes.

2. Write.

No planning, no over-thinking, just start. Blurt it all out. Have a whinge or have an epiphany. It is all great. Writing helps us sort and order our thoughts. It also helps us get in touch with ourselves and ourfeelings. By expressing ourselves in an unedited environment we can tap into self-guidance and experience the therapeutic effects of journal writing.

3. Write a love letter.

This helps you to get in touch with the positive feelings associated with love and gratitude. Dwell in those feelings for 15 minutes by writing a love letter to someone. You may choose to deliver it (in the mail or tucked into a lunch box) or not, but by spending the time and staying in this mind space for 15 minutes you are reinforcing these loving experiences and pathways in the brain.

4. Trade 15 minutes with a friend.

This works well over the phone on days that you need a pick-me-up, someone in your corner who is cheering you on when you can’t do it for yourself. Let them know in advance you need some loving-kindness, or a good laugh or a boost of ‘I-know-you-can-and-here’s-why’. This works best with friends who know you well and whom you can be vulnerable with.

5. Spend 15 minutes ONLY on a task from the to-do list.

It is often when I have a small window of time left before I need to walk out the door that I notice the place needs a tidy.  I can somehow make a mere 15 minutes incredibly productive. I move like a woman whose mother-in-law is heading down the driveway and can get a huge amount done knowing that it will all be over in 15 minutes when I need to leave. The daunting task gets done in  a much less imposing time frame.This is also a good time to make that appointment you have been putting off or clearing out ONE drawer. Less time to contemplate means the mind is less of a hindrance in the process of attending to stuff.

6.Take 15 minutes to photograph your kids, your pets, your neighborhood.

This is an active way of appreciating and actively noticing the ones we love and our surroundings. It helps the mind become more present focused when you fully engage with your subject and look a little more closely. Take the time to dwell in the small details.

7. Take 15 minutes to put together an outfit for the day.

Our clothes are like costumes. When we wear our old jeans and most loved t-shirt we are setting ourselves up for comfort. And whilst this is exactly what we need some of the time what about setting yourself up for an adventure, for being noticed, for self-expression, for trying a new approach (wearing heels always makes me feel like someone else, and I like her). This 15 minutes can breathe freshness into your whole day and maybe even beyond.

8. Done right,15 minutes of exercise can pack a punch.

1 minute squats + 1 minute pushups + I minute plank + 1 minute skipping + 1 minute back extensions. Repeat x 3. Done.

9. Draw to quiet the mind.

No artistic qualifications required here. Take the time to just involve yourself in the process and let your mind relax. Take a pencil in your left hand, close your eyes and slowly make lines all over the page. When you are done open your eyes. You may look for images amongst the lines and flesh them out, or enjoy coloring in your doodle. You may also enjoy doing this activity to music.

10. Brainstorm

Pick a prominent nagging dilemma and spend 15 minutes coming up with a list of creative solutions. Whether the problem is work related, organisational, social, creative, etc. give your self a big piece of paper and a time limit and without the opportunity to procrastinate or perfect you will have created the ideal environment for your ideas to flow.

11. Organise fuel for the day

Eating wholesome, nourishing food is key to our health and feeling at our optimal best. Nourishing ourselves helps our mind and body function well but it is also an act of self-care. Many of us intend to eat well but never quite follow through. Preparing healthy food needn’t be a roadblock to health and feeling great. A 15 minute investment in the preparation department here can mean the difference between a sugar and coffee fueled afternoon slump and ending the day with some pep still in your step. A fair and worthy trade here I think.

I would love to hear what you find is a rewarding exchange for 15 minutes of your time.

Drop me a  comment below.