Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mindful Parenting

I've been thinking a lot about mindfulness the last few weeks...about how, perhaps above all else as a mother, i want to mother lily in a mindful way...a way that takes a broad look at what is going on in her life, her little world-- and the ways in which what has occurred in my life-both now and in the past, affects the space between she and I. Because the truth is, that space right there? That is our relationship. Its made up of her stuff and my stuff and together, we make our own mother-daughter "stuff" (alright, it needs a more formal about dynamic? : )

I guess that dynamic is why they say no two siblings have the same set of parents...because even if you're related by blood to your sister or brother, the reality is, your makeup and your parents' individual makeups, make up its own dynamic that is entirely different, based on the inherent traits (genes) and circumstances (environmental influences) affecting each person in that relationship at that very moment. Hence why once sibling can fully subscribe to a particular narrative about a parent...while the other sibling, even one close in age, has a totally different take on that parent, or a family story.

Its fascinating, really. The fact that our genes, while the same or at least similar, are so affected by circumstances and by that "dynamic" that it shifts our relationships entirely.

But the thing that I keep coming back to (differences in sibling narratives that is basically an aside!) is the power in being fully aware of my wounded strengths...the words or even subtle body language that can trigger some of my old hurts...and how that can so easily play out in an exchange without me being aware at the time that that's whats happening.

 This happens all the time in our marriage-- I'll feel hurt by something Sean has said or done-- and while sometimes it makes sense that I feel hurt- to a degree-- my reaction to him is totally disproportionate to what he has done. While I know enough about the brain to, in my better, colder moments (striking when the iron is cold...) to know that this is a reflection of much needed connection between different parts of my brain (I'll get into all of that at another time), more and more, I'm realizing those same parts of me that need attending to in order for me to develop a healthy relationship with my husband, need attention in order for me to craft the dynamic (and relationship) I want with my daughter.

As Dan Siegel ( one of my favorite authors on this topic-- and one of the leader neurobiologists on interpersonal neurobiology and mindfulness) says, "Mindfulness is at the heart of nurturing relationships. When we are mindful, we live in the present moment and are aware of our own thoughts and feelings and also are open to those of our children. The ability to stay present with clarity within ourselves allows us to be full present with others and to respect each person's individual experience" (from his book, Parenting from the Inside Out)

I love this idea because it demonstrates how paying attention to ourselves and our own experiences--actually processing them--doesn't slow us down (an "oh I'll just deal with this later" moment--or simply just dismissing emotions that a situation elicits) or inhibit us, but instead actually *frees* us to feel more connected to others. That if I pay attention to my present (my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences) I will actually *be* more present to those around me.

So, one of my calls for the new year, is to be more mindful. To set into place, spaces and time for me to attend to my stuff, past and present, to be more fully aware and present for the little peanut that needs me. Needs me to love her, needs me to hold her, needs me to sort out the world for her...needs me to pay enough attention to my order to fully pay attention to her's.

No comments:

Post a Comment