FAMILIES, PARENTHOOD & COMMUNICATION - How mindfulness can bring love and understanding
‘We live in an age in which telecommunications is very sophisticated, but communications between parents and children is suffering. We are losing the capacity to listen to each other, to talk to each other in the language of understanding’
- Thich Nhat Hanh -
Parenthood and being part of a family can be the most meaningful, joyful and challenging parts of our life. As well as the smiles, the love, the shared laughter and enjoyable experiences are the misunderstandings, the gripes, the difficult reactions and the mundane everyday tasks. It can be very easy to seek sanctuary in online stimulation (think Netflix, social media, online games and apps), a full schedule or other distractions and so we begin to lose the capacity to listen to ourselves, to our family and to build love and understanding.
It all starts with us
Mindfulness practice – being present in a loving and accepting way – offers us the opportunity to be calmer, happier and more able to listen and to understand ourselves and others.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers’’
- Thich Nhat Hanh -
When we travel on an airline we are told that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others. Mindfulness is like this too. When we make time to practice mindfulness we not only feel calmer but our family will sense our peacefulness and benefit from it straight away. When we stop and listen to ourselves with understanding then we are able to listen and understand our children and other family members more easily. We are able to offer them our calm understanding presence.
As a working mum it was too easy for me to bring work home and to find myself thinking about work problems when I was with my children. So I made sure I practiced mindfulness on my journey home. I practiced mindful sitting on the tube and mindful walking through the south London streets – I left work behind at work. I arrived home fresh, calm and present - ready for family life – ready to be truly with my husband and children. That way I made the most of every minute I had with my family.
Vari McLuskie, Community of Interbeing