Choice #4: I find moments of
Mindfulness in the chaos.
Do you ever tuck your kids into bed feeling relieved because you are so tired...
But as they settle in and close their eyes, do you then feel a moment of sadness knowing tomorrow and every day after, they are going to grow and change?
Yesterday, I rocked my youngest long after she fell asleep for her nap. I had a million things to do, but I stayed with her, just to soak up all her toddler sweetness...
I noticed the clicking sound as she sucks her thumb, the perfect spirals of her blonde curls, and the warmth of her body resting on mine. Knowing she is my last baby has forced me to be more present than ever before, and these days, I savor like it's my job.
Life is just as messy as it's ever been, but one day I woke up and recognized the most precious years of my motherhood journey are right NOW, so I made the intention of being present for this beautiful time before it slips into my past.
This is why I declared 2017 would be the year of mindfulness in the Assad home. My husband has joined me in saying, "No," doing less, avoiding negativity, and we have made decisions both big and small based on the following:
Is this going to distract us from the kids?
Our mindful 2017 intentions have initiated many shifts in the life of my family, and the root of this ripple effect of change is the intention to move away from what sucks our joy.
Drama and negativity come in various shapes, and we have developed a keen awareness of these negative distractors. We made every effort to avoid them, but sometimes we simply cannot mitigate chaos.
Therefore, I am committed to finding joy, and savoring the precious moments I have with my growing family right now, even though I am currently weathering another "storm" in life.
What's that quote about not waiting for the storms to pass and learning to dance in the rain?
My struggles might be unique to me, but I know I'm not alone in my pervasive "chaos." I bet there's something on your plate that's distracting you from what's most important.
I'm working hard these days to choose joy and gratitude over stress and worry and will admit,
"This is easier said than done."
What can I say, except,
"I am a work in progress."
Just in case you want to join me on this quest to worry less and savor more,
Here's how I'm finding moments of mindfulness in the chaos:
1. I say, "This too shall Pass,” a lot.
During a grocery store temper tantrum back in early motherhood, a woman said to me, "Savor these moments because you will miss them." That's when I started leaning on the notion of impermanence to endure the stressors of motherhood, and to be present for its greatest joys.
In a Huffington Post article, I wrote how "This too shall pass" helps remind me that my joys are as fleeting as my sorrows.
This too shall pass....This too shall pass...This too shall pass...
2. I organize, declutter, and say, "No."
Yes, not everyone likes to plan and organize, but with four kids under 8, this is the only way I can stay afloat. The more organized and better prepared I am, the less chaotic I feel. Then I'm better able to roll with what comes my way.
That's why I've been cleaning out cabinets, setting firm schedules, and teaching my kids to be more organized as well. I'm also saying, "No," to them a lot to teach them about the things they really need. This is a post of its own for another day but for now I'll just say,
Clean it out, organize it, write it down, make a list, think ahead, and continually ask,
"Do we really need this?"
3. I put it in perspective.
Back in grad school, I had the privilege of studying under Karen Reivich who is one of the leading researchers in the field of resilience. Under her, I learned several techniques that help me manage anxiety and highly recommend you read her article, The Resilience Ingredient List.
To delve further into these concepts, check out the book she co-authored with Andrew Shatte, The Resilience Factor, but I'll tell tell you about a technique she taught me called, "putting it in perspective" that helps me take the edge off of my anxiety:
1. I acknowledge my "Worst Case Scenario" by allowing my mind to wander all the way down the rabbit hole of rumination.
2. Despite all instincts to think "Worst Case" will be reality, I force myself to think, "What could go right?" The act of consciously reaching for more positive outcomes always calms me down.
3. I know to look for the "Most Likely Implications" which are a more realistic outcome and that's the thought I hold onto.
While this exercise can be done formally with a pen and paper, I've become so used to it, I do it in my mind. However if I am particularly frazzled, I call one of my girlfriends who I know will help me find my "Best Case Scenarios" when I cannot break rumination or put it in perspective on my own.
4. I'm starting a mediation practice, TODAY!
I’d say the #1 distractor for me from being present is worry. While I strive to worry less and snuggle more, like I already mentioned:
I'm a work in progress....
I was looking for a quote to relay this to you, and came across Gabby Bernstein's words,
"Worry is a prayer to chaos."
I want to stop worrying so much and Bernstein insists meditation will help with this. I've meditated here and there over the years, but I don't do it regularly or properly for that matter. I consider writing a form of meditation and I meditate as I walk or exercise, but I am quite certain any meditation guru would tell me I must sit still with my spine straight to receive the full benefits of a meditation practice.
These days, I'm being forced to practice every word I preach, so I'm reaching for the tools I know will sustain me. All research points to meditation, because this practice can literally change our brain (for the better).
I recently read, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Just one thing: Developing a buddha brain one simple practice at a time. These books have made it irrefutable:
Alicia, it's time to start meditating.
To start this new meditation practice, I went back to Gabrielle Bernstein's resources. I like her book, The Universe Has Your Back, and I've found her basic Kundalini meditation soothing:
Peace begins with me.
But to delve deeper into the research and health benefits of mindfulness, I've begun following Cory Mascara, who spent six months in silence practicing mindfulness meditation 14+ hours a day as a Buddhist Monk in Southeast Asia.
Pretty impressive, right?
This mindfulness teacher, coach, and speaker masterfully blends eastern wisdom with western science. He'll introduce you to meditation in the clips from his Dr. Oz appearances, and if you subscribe to his website, you'll get free mindfulness tools delivered straight to your inbox, beginning with a quick 5 minute meditation.
Now that I've told you how important mindfulness is, I'm making a commitment:
I want to start meditating every day just for ten minutes.
I promise to check back in and let you know how it goes (subscribe to my email list below so we can stay connected), but from all the research I've read, I'm pretty confident that I'll be reporting greater peace, focus, clarity, and wisdom.
Who doesn't need that sort of stuff these days?
I want to be more calm and resilient. I strive to worry less, so I can be present for the joys in my life right now, regardless about what is going on.
What about you?
Want to join me?
A quick meditation each day just might change our lives....
One day, one word, one meditation at a time...