How you can bounce back from life’s challenges and become more resilient

Reading Time: 7 minutes

"I’m not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship"
— Louisa May Alcott

Life is filled with all kinds of moments- both good and bad. Few of us will get through an entire lifetime completely free of challenges and stressors. Infact, pain and suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition, of being alive. Failure is an inevitable part of our life, what really matters is how you deal with it.

Some people face their failures and setbacks and bounce back by responding effectively and decisively while others never seem to get their act together. What differentiates these two groups of people? In a word, RESILIENCE. 

In my previous post (fifth in a series of eight posts), I had written about the need to look for and find the joyful moments in our lives in order to have meaningful happiness. In this post, I am writing about those other kinds of negative moments that are woven into the very fabric of our lives- stressful, frustrating, dreary, tiring, dull and even traumatic and devastating ones.

We can learn how to remain grounded in the face of adversity and not get uprooted. We can also learn to take risks and endure failure (it is not a matter of if but when) and have the courage to learn, grow and adapt.  Using the tools of self compassion, empathy, self awareness, confidence, calm and courage we can train ourselves to deal with the adversities when they come and adapt to the circumstances. In other words, we can learn to become resilient.

"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again"

-Nelson Mandela

Many of us ask ourselves these questions when faced with adversity in our daily lives

Will I ever recover from this?

How long will it take me?

How can I help myself cope with this better?

Research now shows that our brain can be consciously rewired so that we become more resilient to future events. We know that due to neuroplasticity, we can train our brains for the better just like we would do with a muscle. Infact, due to evolution, your brain already has all the capacities that you need to develop and strengthen your resilience.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

So the question then is not whether you can cope with the adversities that come your way, but rather how do you tap into the resources that will help you to cope with them effectively. Developing resilience is a personal journey that takes practise like any other skill. It is important to develop thoughts, behaviours and actions that allow you to bounce back and also to understand what works for you. Research also shows that the two most effective practices that help us choose new experiences and rewire and reshape our brains are mindfulness and self compassion.

We all know that despite our best intentions things go wrong, some times very wrong. But how do we typically react at that time? More often than not we criticise and shame ourselves for not knowing better, for not doing better.

We ask questions like

"Why me?"

"What's wrong with me?"

"I should have known better!"

We blame ourselves and others and try and fix things rather than giving ourselves a break. Instead of tuning into our emotions and how we are feeling at the time, we do anything and everything to avoid feeling pain. And when we do that, we often get hijacked by the way our feelings filter our perceptions and our emotions guide (or rather misguide) our responses to our experiences. All this usually happens at a level that is below our radar of consciousness and undermines our confidence and our ability to bounce back from life's challenges.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, helps us create a moment to moment awareness that helps us become free to choose how we respond to painful situations in a kind, curious and non judgemental manner.

As we practice doing mindfulness, we find that it leads to self awareness and brings clarity in seeing how we react to a situation, respond in a more effective manner and face the prospect of change in a much more open manner. It helps us to engage with our feelings and get curious about what emotions we are experiencing and how they are connected to our thoughts and behaviours.

It is important to acknowledge those moments in our lives that threaten to overwhelm us, make us feel ashamed and isolate us. Mindfulness helps us to become aware that we are feeling something in those moments and enables us to investigate the stories that we often tell ourselves. We can also see what is true or not true about what we are noticing and what is working and not working in what we are observing.

(Take out a bit of time to do the following activity and note down your responses to the prompts given below) 

Think back to a time in your life when you were in a difficult situation recently and try and remember as to what you were feeling at that time -

I felt _______________________ (disappointed, frustrated, sad, regretful, heartbroken, confused, scared, worried) right now

 I was __________________ (in a lot of pain, ashamed, embarrassed, overwhelmed)

I am not sure what I was feeling, I simply wanted to feel better

You have just taken the first step towards acknowledging your feelings that come with accepting failure as an inherent part of our life. Practising mindfulness is an important skill that you can develop to take this level of awareness further.

Many of us have a notion that being resilient means being tough and that it hardens our weaknesses and helps us become less vulnerable to hardships in life. It could not be further from the truth!

Resilience in fact requires flexibility, mental suppleness and being open and vulnerable so that we can access the broken and dark places deep inside us. It requires that we really see ourselves- our hurt and pain, thoughts and feelings, our beauty and longings, wounds, mistakes and regrets and make space for them so that we can hold them all with compassion, curiosity and love.

We also need to realise that we deserve to feel better. Seeing ourselves this way also helps us to become more tender with ourselves and as we do so, we often see a path to becoming more tender with others, too.

Self compassion is a wholesome combination of acceptance and connection- both to ourselves and others. Using mindfulness along with self compassion helps us to reshape our brains and guide it in a positive direction.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing

-Naomi Shihab Niya

(You can also read my earlier post on a related topic of self acceptance  at "How self acceptance can compensate for being ‘NEVER ENOUGH” )

Take out a few minutes to do the following exercise and then write down your responses

First, think about times when a close friend feels really bad about him or herself or is really struggling in some way. How would you respond to your friend in this situation?

Please write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you typically talk to your friends. Notice any warmth, concern, and goodwill arising in your own heart for your friend. Allow yourself to feel the empathy, compassion and love that arises naturally in you.

Now think about times when you feel bad about yourself or are struggling. Was there any difference between the two responses? 

Now return to the feelings of warmth, concern, and goodwill that you felt for your friend earlier. Without changing anything, simply redirect this flow of empathy, compassion, and love towards yourself. Allow yourself to receive your own empathy, compassion and love for your own pain, for your struggle or whatever you have done or failed to do. 

How did this exercise make you feel? Did you notice anything different about how you respond to your own pain versus that of a friend? What would you do differently with this awareness the next time you are hurting?

There are too many people in this world who are struggling today- they act out instead of feeling hurt, they inflict pain instead of acknowledging it and choose to live a mediocre life to miminise the risk of being disappointed. In other words, they end up living a life that is filled with unfulfilled dreams, fear and regrets.

It doesn't have to be this way though! You can make different choices with different outcomes. 

Can you think of ways to....

be present in your life?

show up just as you are when you need to without trying to control the outcome? 

enjoy the journey- to find ways to pause and savour all that comes your way?

show yourself the same compassion that you would show another who is hurting and understand that you deserve the same kindness and understanding? 

incorporate tools of mindful self compassion in your life to be able to bounce back from life's challenges?

The sufi poet Rumi captured the essence of what I have said in this post so beautifully in his poem  "The Guest House"

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Why deciding to be happy starts with inviting JOY into your life

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

(This post is the fourth in a series of 8 posts that I am publishing every week on the topics of self-worth and self-compassion; you can read the others HERE.)

In the last few posts, I wrote about how self acceptance frees you up from the shackles of feeling unworthy and undeserving of love and how we can set boundaries to protect our most valuable resources- our energy and our time. In this post, I shift gears a bit and discuss why we need to invite JOY into our lives.

In a world that is filled with suffering, discontentment and conflict it is often only too easy to undervalue joy. This is true for those who feel deeply connected to others and care about these issues and it is equally true for anyone else who is seeking meaningful happiness in their lives. Even those who are in the profession of serving others can end up feeling burnt out over time if they are not intentional about mining for joy in their lives.

What about you? Are you willing to set an intention to "be happy" no matter the current circumstances in your life?

It helps to realise and to accept that everything changes. Our bodies, our circumstances, our minds, the seasons- everything!  Hence, there is nothing in our lives that can bring us everlasting happiness. That is not to say that there is nothing we can do about it. What we can do is train our minds to cultivate joy and live in a way that allows us to be truly happy with the way things are in our lives. We can learn to see and appreciate all the little and big ways that joy permeates our life and allow for more happiness in our lives even as we aspire to grow and change for the better.

All of this starts with setting the right intention (which is quite different from setting a goal); that is, an intention to invite happiness into your life. In order to do this, you must be open to finding and embracing joy in your life.

Ask yourself these questions in an open and compassionate manner-

Are you truly open to the possibility of finding true joy in your life at exactly this moment; the way that your life is right now?

Are you willing to allow joy to happen in your life?

OR

 are you waiting for the magical moment to arrive where you can decide to be happy?

Once you are clear on this, you may actually start to see all the ways that joy is already present in your life.

We are NOT trying to force joy into our lives and think only positive thoughts all the time. This is simply not possible and we would fail miserably at this. What we CAN do is to set a clear intention and train our minds to create an environment where joy can thrive. You will also find that as you start paying attention to your life, you will notice moments of joy when you least expect it and in the most unlikely places. This is equally true for those days in your life that are completely ordinary and those times in your life that are difficult.

As the wise fox explained to the Little Prince (in the book by the same name) "It's the time you spend on your rose that makes it so important"

In other words, it was paying attention to that single flower that brought the prince great pleasure.

Being present in your own life makes it possible for you to recognise the thoughts that arise given a particular stimulus and helps you to switch from habitual autopilot mode and make conscious choices that are more constructive. It also helps us to remain open to what life has to offer us, reframe our experiences when needed and be more open to joy.

Take out some today from your busy schedule (even 5 minutes will do) and see if you can do any of the following-

simply sit with yourself and see what comes up for you in your body and pay attention to your thoughts without trying to change them  

as you have your cup of coffee (or tea), notice the aroma, the taste and how it makes you feel as you sip and savour it

take a walk and pay attention to every step that you take; the grass or the ground beneath your feet, the breeze in the air and how it makes you feel

listen to a piece of your favourite music and pay attention to the lyrics and/or each instrument and how it affects your mood and makes you feel

We can miss out on the joyful moments in our lives if we fail to acknowledge the many ways that our lives are blessed every single day- both big and small. A grateful heart is in fact a prerequisite for a joyful life especially when times are difficult. It is impossible to feel bitter, angry and resentful when our hearts are filled with gratitude for what we have. A grateful heart also helps us to see the wonder that is around us and makes it apparent just how available joy is in our lives.

Joy is really the simplest form of gratitude

- Karl Barth

It is of course much easier to find joy when things are going well. What happens when difficult times arise? Obstacles, challenges, pain and suffering due to circumstances beyond our control is an integral part of our lives that we simply cannot avoid. However, how we choose to respond to these circumstances is very much in our hands.

Infact, the practice of accepting difficult emotions and circumstances is a vital part of inviting joy into our lives. The more we are able to understand and come to terms with our lives when things become difficult, the greater the possibility that we can keep an open mind so that we can meet our suffering with love and compassion.

As singer/songwriter Roger Miller had said

"Some people walk in the rain. Others get wet"

So I ask you once again, are you willing to be open to the possibility of finding joy in your life irrespective of the circumstances?  

Given below are some of the ways that you can reflect on what joy means to you and how you can find more of it in your life

(courtesy: Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee and Awakening Joy by James Baraz)

  • Keeping a joy journal and making a note of any moment that you feel a sense of joy; writing down where you are, whom you are with and what you are doing
  • Creating a Mood board (either physically or on Pinterest) is another useful way of curating people, things, places and activities that bring you joy
  • Imagining and reliving a joyful moment; think about how it makes you feel right now; making a list of all the things that you would like to do at this moment and then set about doing what you can
  • Making a "joy" album by going through photos on your computer/phone and printing those that give you a sense of happiness; making a "happiness" video along the same lines or curating a music list on a streaming service of your choice
  • Developing a healthy relationship with your body and taking care of it
  • Finding a joy buddy; partner with someone who is also on the same journey as you so that both of you are accountable to each other
  • Indulging in creative and nourishing activities on a regular basis

I hope you realise by now that joy is your birth right. Babies are born with it and all young children express it as an inherent part of their nature. You do not have to create joy, it is already there inside, you simply have to find it again.

I find joy in those precious moments when I wrestle with my 9 year old son, learn to play a new piece of music on the piano or when I am indulging in an activity with my family like board games or family night.

People find joy in those moments when they

act with kindness and generosity

let down their hair and act silly and playful

are in the midst of nature 

indulge in something creative like their hobbies

We all have unique ways of experiencing and expressing positive emotions like joy.

It really does not matter what it looks like for each of us ; it matters that we decide to be happy and allow for joy in our lives

As the famous poet Robert Louis Stevenson had said

"Find out where joy resides and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all" 

5 simple morning habits for a calmer, brighter day

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This is the THIRD in a series of 6 weekly posts that I am writing about self care- if you have not done so already you can check out the first part "Do you know your WHY?" and the second part "Rocks, pebbles and sand...the key to knowing what is important in your life".

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver (from the poem "The summer day")

Take some and reflect upon your answers to the following questions

What do I want from life?

What am I doing that really counts?

What would I do if I knew I would not fail?

What is the unique gift that I can share with the world so that I can contribute and make a difference?

For many of us, somewhere deep inside we have this niggling feeling that what we are doing is not contributing to what really matters to us and what is important in our lives. Taking the time out to reflect on the questions shared in all the three posts should give you some clarity and inspire you to think about what you need to change in order to move towards your goals and focus on what is important to you. As you do this, you will be able to take out the time to listen more, spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy and indulge in your hobbies, relax more and get to know yourself through meditation and self reflection. It would then be much easier to identify those areas of your life that need an overhaul or some tweaking in order to become the best version of yourself.

However, sometimes even when we have the clarity and the inclination to make changes in our lives, the external world can get in the way. Without realising it, we can start and end our day on autopilot merely reacting to circumstances and people, fulfilling their agendas and not ours. For many of us, as soon as the alarm wakes us up, our habitual thoughts take over and our mental playlist of activities, worries and to-do list fill our every waking moment. Each day turns into a month, then months turn into years and pretty soon we have lost decades of our lives simply by remaining on autopilot. We may also feel that because of our circumstances- financial, personal, professional we do not really have any choice but to live like this on autopilot.

This is simply not true

At each moment we have a choice. You chose to read this article today. You choose the clothes you wear, the foods you eat, the activities that you indulge in. You choose to be angry or to forgive people. You choose to be happy or to remain sad. You choose to be grateful for what you have or to focus on the things you lack in your life. You choose all these things and much more. BUT what you need to keep in mind is that this power to choose resides only in this present moment. In time, it is what we do every single day that matters much more than the profound decisions that we may make once in a while.

Once we are clear about what we need to do, we need to rise above excuses and do what is important and needs to be done. And one of the best things that we can do to increase productivity and get things done is to have a well thought out morning routine. Having a consistent morning routine is infact a common and recurring theme amongst many successful people. It helps to counteract the pull of distractions and overcome daily obstacles that can and do pop up. You can and should harness the power of an empowering morning routine as well. And in time, it can literally transform your life.

Whether it is the Olympic winner Michael Phelps, Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Ratan Tata, Indira Nooyi or countless other successful people, crafting a sacred space in the morning has made all the difference in their productivity and achieving their dreams. It has enabled them to start their day with intention and set a positive tone for the rest of the day. In other words, an empowering morning can set you up for 'wins' and motivate you to keep going with a calm and productive frame of mind.

Now that the power of morning routines is clear, let us see what it would look like for you. The first thing to note is that it is NOT and SHOULD NOT be the same for everyone. It is not about waking up at a particular time OR doing the same things that everyone else is doing. It is about finding, creating and then sticking to a routine that is right for YOU.

Remember, your mornings are a blank slate and it is up to you to fill it in with what work for you

What is a morning routine?

It is a set of activities that you do upon waking up in the morning. It can and does vary from person to person and includes activities like exercise, meditation, brushing teeth, prayer, journaling, writing and reading.

Take some time today and think about how you usually start your day. Simply start by making a list of all the things that you do upon waking up. The next step would be to identify what is important right now. (This becomes easier if you have already reflected upon this as I have mentioned in my earlier post) Once you know that you are doing the RIGHT thing you can get started crafting out a routine that works for YOU.

In this post, I have shared with you 5 simple habits that you can intentionally develop for a calmer and brighter morning

(It is up to you to incorporate as many of these that you want in your own routine)

Setting intention

Set the tone for the day by finding out what your intention is. The questions below can help you bring some clarity as you think about your activities for the day and set an intention-

How can I show up today that is in line with what I want to achieve today?

What do I want to see more of today? (good news, wonder, acts of kindness, joy)

What is my heart's desire at this moment?

How do I want to feel?

A few examples are "Today I will take care of myself better, show compassion to others and myself, remain calm, be more open to joy".

Journaling, meditation and reflection 

Prayer, meditation and journaling are all beautiful ways that you can use to ground and connect with yourself. There is no one right way to meditate or write in a journal, you simply need to find what works for you.

If writing free form is difficult, you can use the prompts given below (from the book "The Mindful Day by Laurie Cameron")

What I appreciate most in my life right now is....

 I am at my best when I am....

What brings me alive is.....

What I really need right now is....

What gets in the way of me being present is....

My next best action is.... 

Even if you do not have a formal meditation practice, the simple act of paying attention or being more mindful in how you start your day can have a profound effect. The beauty is that you can be more mindful with regards to any activity that you do already. The simple act of paying attention while having a cup of tea, brushing your teeth, showering, exercise will help you to bring awareness to that particular moment and replenish and rejuvenate you.

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Reading

Another way of connecting with yourself and the world in the morning is to read a book (and I don't mean the news). This will be different for each of us as we choose to read something that inspires and motivates us. I find that I prefer to read about other people whom I respect and who inspire me to grow and live a better life. Books like The four things that matter most by Dr Ira Byock, First things first by Stephen Covey, Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, The power of habit by Charles Duhigg, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Mindset By Carol Dweck, The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann are just some of the books I have read over time.

Spending time with family

Spending time with your family is one of the best ways to start your day. It helps to connect with what is truly important for each of us on a daily basis. Whether it is 10 minutes or an hour, it is the quality of the time spent that matters more than how much time you actually get to spend with your family in the morning.

Since there is always a rush in the morning during school days (I have two school going children), I try and wake my children up around 10 minutes earlier and spend some time with them, giving them a hug or a cuddle and sometimes switching on their favourite music to get them started on the right note. My husband and I also make sure that we savour our quiet time together over our cup of tea and newspaper before we start preparing for our day.

Exercise and mindful movement

Research shows us that moving our bodies first thing in the morning whether it is through exercise (cardio, aerobic, strength training etc) or mindful movements like tai chi and yoga have a profound beneficial and positive effect on our health and how we deal with the rest of our day. By doing this first thing in the morning we have the opportunity to harness the benefits of exercise and movement throughout the remainder of our day. Schedule a workout or activity that you like doing already and then stick to it.

However, the key to having a successful and consistent routine is to PLAN for it and REMOVE anything that might get in the way

A few things that ensure that I stick to my routine are

  • preparing the night before by keeping my journal, workout clothes ready; preferably somewhere I can see them immediately as I wake up
  • using an app to make sure that I cannot access my emails and social media first thing in the morning (I will be covering this topic in details in one of my later posts)
  • having a simple structure that I can follow in terms of activities and time for the first couple of hours
  • setting an intention for the day; sometimes I set one for the entire week
  • complete my workout in the morning so that unexpected work or family issues do not come in the way later during the day
  • lastly, creating an environment that is conducive to self reflection and gives a peaceful start to my day; I love playing music and lighting incense to awaken my senses

My own routine is very much a work-in-progress and is not something that you need to emulate as is. The whole point is to find what works for YOU and then stick to it. It should be something that you enjoy doing and feel good about doing on a regular basis.

So take a pen and paper and start creating an empowering morning routine for yourself. Every day that you stick to it treat as a small "win". It is only when we pause to celebrate each step that we take in the right direction that we can stick to it and achieve what we set out to do no matter how long it takes.

Finally, take this magical time to connect with your body, breath and spirit to give yourself the best possible start to your day and to your life

As Marcus Aurelius said, "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love" 

(As you go through these posts I suggest that you keep a journal handy so that you can reflect upon and write down the questions that I ask along the way. You may end up getting to know yourself better and even surprise yourself with your answers. And of course, I would simply love it if you would share with your experience of going on this journey of self-exploration with me)

 

Raising resilient children- why being a “good enough” parent is enough

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As parents, we are aware that life has its own share of ups and downs. We also realise that it is inevitable that at some point in time or the other we will be faced with situations laced in uncertainty due to circumstances beyond our control. What we may not always realise though that it is not always possible to shield our children from all such difficulties and more importantly may not always be helpful to do so in the long run. Indeed how we deal with life’s stressors can determine whether we will bounce back from challenges or be broken by them. As parents, it then becomes our responsibility to teach our children healthy strategies to cope with stress and uncertainty. Also, as our children learn that all “stress” is not bad, they start to transform their relationship to it.

One of our most important responsibilities as parents is to help our children develop healthy skills, habits, and perspectives from a young age; this will help them deal with life’s uncertainties and stressors. In other words, it will make them more resilient

In order to deal with challenges effectively, we really need a change in our mindset, in our way of thinking. But this change needs to start with YOU. This is because children are very tuned into their parent’s feelings and use their parents as a model for behaviour and as a mirror for their own feelings.

So, the way that we handle our own mistakes, challenges and the relationship that we have with ourselves play a key role in how our children shape up in their adult life later on. 

Being a “good enough” parent is "enough"

There is no perfect parent. It is a myth.

We simply need to find a way to be absolutely fine with being a “good enough” mother or father

In fact…..

It is way more important to show up and be around our children than to strive for “perfection” in our parenting style

It is way more important to find ways of creating and holding space for our children especially when they are not at their best. This means that we need to be there for the child who is angry, frustrated, sad and disappointed without getting carried away ourselves or withdrawing from their pain

It is way more important to model the way that we deal with our own mistakes; by forgiving ourselves when things go wrong so that we can bounce back from our failures

It is way more important have a good relationship with ourselves and be comfortable who we are and the life we lead; our children learn from what they see us doing much more than any instruction or advice that we give them

It is way more important to celebrate the child that we have instead of wishing for the ideal child that we had visualised for ourselves; in comparing with others we miss out on many opportunities to appreciate our children for they REALLY are and deepen our connection and our attachment with them

As someone had said “There is no such thing as a real parent. So just be a real one

Roots and wings

What our children really need from us is NOT to focus on ways to eliminate stress and hardship for them (this exercise is rather futile) but to teach them and show them ways to cope with such difficult times. In today’s age of digital hyperconnectivity, parenting matters more than ever before. Mental health issues and in some extreme cases suicide in teenagers and young children have sky rocketed.

(There are many reasons for this and I will  address this in my webinar on mindful and strength-based parenting and the importance of attachment relationship later this month- I will be posting updates on my website ans well as my Facebook page - Nourish Heal Connect)

The basic response to a stressor is either a “fight or flight” response or a “freeze and submit” response. While the first response helps us gear up for a threat (whether real or imagined), the second response makes us turn inwards and shut down. Both responses are not helpful in many kinds of situations especially when children (and adults) are not really tuned into their emotions and self awareness is low.

There is a third type of response that is more purposeful and effective and that is a “tend and befriend” response. This helps us to focus on what we can do for ourselves as well as others at the same time allowing us to accept ALL that we are feeling at that moment without trying to change or avoid it. This also enables us to reach out for help when we need it the most. This kind of response fosters a connection with ourselves and others and helps children the most when they have a benevolent adult (usually a parent) that they can turn to.

If we can teach our children to be more present in their actions and be more aware of their emotions, it would help them reduce stress, increase focus, be more empathetic, and stay calm—just like it does for adults. In other words, becoming more “mindful” really helps and I will be covering this in another post on "mindful and strength based parenting".

All that I have discussed so far is key to fostering resiliency in children and I have summarised them below.

What are some of the ways that we can foster resilience in our children?

  • We can help them create a “Circle of control”- to remind them that there are things which are out of their control and therefore, no need to stress and worry about them
  • We can teach our children to reframe the way we think about stress so that they understand that all stress is not inherently bad. Rather, if they are stressed about getting good grades, making new friends- what it really means that they really care about it
  • Just knowing that they are not alone in facing a difficult situation really helps- many times it is enough to know that they are a part of a loving family who cares enough about them to show up
  • One of the most effective ways of teaching our children to be optimistic, strong and always have hope is to help them to cultivate a GROWTH mindset. This is done by focussing on a child’s strengths rather than her weaknesses. Showing our children their strengths and enabling them to use them especially during difficult times is one most powerful lessons we teach our children
  • Inculcating a contemplative practice like mindfulness in our own lives as parents and then imbibing it in our children; these kind of practices create an internal space which enable us (amongst other things) to work through difficult emotions like pain, anger, frustration and is a powerful tool for healing
  • Be a model for and teach our children the value of self compassion; being able to forgive ourselves for making mistakes is key to bouncing back from failure

As someone had said “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots, the other wings”.

What is Mindfulness?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Mindfulness is a word which is being increasing heard nowadays. It forms an integral part of my coaching sessions as well. But what is it?

According to the internationally reknowned meditation teacher Jon Kabat Zin “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

Jon KabatZinn, Ph.D. is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded its world-renowned 8 week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) programme.

In other words, mindfuless is simply being aware of the present moment but with kindness and curiosity. It means paying attention to what is right here, right now without labelling it good or bad or anything else at all. When we are mindful, we are in our true home which is in the here and now. We are not living in the past nor are we living in the present. We are thus able to let go of our fears, worries, regrets and our plans and enjoy being in the present moment. By being mindful we realise that the conditions for our happiness are already there with us. This liberates us in a way as we come to understand that we can be happy with what we have and we do not have to search beyond ourselves for what already lies within us. And our breath can be the bridge which connects us to this truth. As the great meditation master Thich Naht Hanh tells us

Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” 

Babies and young children know this intuitively, we are all born with the gift of living in the here and now. That is why they find joy and pleasure even in the most simple things in life which does not depend on any external and materialistic factors. Fortunately, we can relearn all that we have forgotten, all that we think were never a part of us. In a way, as we learn to dissociate ourselves from our thoughts and learn that they are not who we are. By taking the time for ourselves, we can thus learn to silence the voices in our head and feel the healing power of silence. The practice of mindfulness can thus make us truly alive as many of us start really living fully for the first time in our lives. As Thich Nhat Hanh had said-

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive and fully aware”