Can Parents be Mindful?

If you’re anything like me (I have four kids between the ages of eight and twenty) going to the bathroom regularly is a challenge, never mind trying to meditate on a regular basis.  But parents, don’t despair!    Many meditation masters are now saying that even a five or ten-minute mindful break, where we consciously pay attention to our breath and watch the nature of our thoughts, will have both immediate and long term benefits to our nervous system, not to mention stopping us from locking our children in the closet.

For the past two summers, I attended meditation retreats with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.  For those of you who are not familiar with Rinpoche, he’s a rising star among U.S. touring monks.  What’s so compelling about him is that he talks openly about overcoming his own struggles with panic and anxiety, in spite of growing up in a family of meditation masters.

At the retreat, in his endearing broken English he handed down the advice his father gave him when he first starting meditating, which was in a nutshell, “Short sits, many times.”  Last I heard Rinpoche is getting ready for a three-year meditation retreat, so I guess those short sits took hold.

Short sits many times.  Five minutes during nap time or five minutes after you drop the kids off at school to check in with your state of mind will make you a calmer, more focused parent.  Think of it as training up for the day you drop them off at college. Check out our tips to get your own practice started.

For more about mindful parenting, see my award-winning article Surrendering to Parenthood.

Check out an uplifting video of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche talking about anxiety.

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