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.

Teaching tweens how to set boundaries

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It is human nature to avoid pain, including emotional pain, whether it is ours or someone else’s. So we need to help our children navigate the fear and guilt that may come with learning to set boundaries.

This morning my daughter wanted to have a ‘strategy meeting’ regarding how to deal with a boy that, according to his friends, ‘liked’ her. It should be said from the outset that these feelings were not mutual, and her friends had been sure to make this clear to this poor boy. My daughter is sensitive and was feeling uncomfortable, not only about the unwanted attention but also about how to address the issue and this boy.

Many of us, when unexpectedly placed in a situation where it is difficult to say ‘no’, will agree to something that is to our own detriment. Most of us have had the experience of agreeing to help out or be there for others when we don’t have the time, energy or resources ourselves.

Saying NO can be awkward and uncomfortable and this makes it difficult for tweens to set boundaries.

When we do things out of guilt or obligation – please others even when it contradicts what’s best for us or avoid expressing our thoughts and feelings when someone upsets us, we are succumbing to fear. We may fear rejection, so we say yes and abide by what we feel is expected of us. We may fear confrontation, so we go along with things just to make it easier. We may also feel guilt as a result of saying ‘no’ or hurting someone’s feelings.

So how do we explain to our children not only WHY it is important to prioritise our own well-being but also HOW?

Learning to set boundaries are key skills in creating healthy and emotionally sustaining relationships. If we can teach our  children to first recognise and then proritise their own well-being we are teaching them self-worth. When our children can recognise and accept what they truly desire, they no longer have to look for approval outside of themselves, which gives them the freedom to be who they really are.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. We can’t base our own worthiness on others’ approval.”

– Brené Brown

My daughter and I talked about how to sit with having hurt someone’s feelings. It was important for her to be able to see that though her honesty meant this boy was disappointed she wasn’t in fact being rude. She was being truthful and sometimes often even for adults this can take a lot of courage. Our obligation to others is to be respectful, however we are not responsible for the other person’s response. We are only responsible for ourselves.

And with that we skipped off to school together discussing homework  and how to get it finished on time.

If you would like to learn more about taking brave steps in your own life, or perhaps you have a tween that you feel would benefit from learning more about resilience, 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.One workshop is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage. The other workshop is for tweens and parents/caregivers and addresses Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.

Bookings open shortly but places are limited, so if you are interested in being notified early jump over here to register.

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.