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⏰ Do you feel like time is passing you by?

⏰ Do you feel like time is passing you by?

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I get it. In this day and age of instant gratification, everything moving at the speed of light and the pressure from peers and society to be highly productive, you might be wondering…

”Where does the time go?”

For me, I get caught up in the busy-ness of being a mom and my career. I can easily get distracted with a pile of chores and obligations and an endless to-do list.

We compare ourselves to others and feel we need to keep up, leaving us energetically drained, overwhelmed and possibly feeling as though life is passing you by. 

Am I striking a chord?

If I am, I want you to know there IS a better way! Let me explain…

The first step is to stop the spin cycle and start making YOU the priority in your life again.

Admittedly, life was simpler 100 years ago. With no technology, things moved much slower. Not that people didn’t work hard, it was more about fewer things distracting us and filling our mind on a 24/ 7 basis.

For example, what’s the first thing you do when you lay down to rest after work?

Maybe close your eyes for a minute – and most likely pick up your phone/ tablet to check messages and surf the net…am I right?

Here’s the thing…just like a hundred years ago, we still only have 24 hours in a day. Yet we try to cram in more than is humanly healthy or even possible.

We spend more time up in our heads than we do in our hearts – no wonder you might be spinning all the time.

If you haven’t unplugged and taken the time to just BE present, there’s no way to access what’s truly in your heart.

How do you do that? Well, let me tell you how.

Take time to “smell the roses”. Stop and actually notice what is right in front of you and take it in. I mean it, truly take it in!

Savour that coffee and taste it. Sip it slowly. Smell its aroma. Pause. Close your eyes and really taste and smell it. Don’t multitask.

Take a moment to notice your beautiful space, that smile on your child’s face, your partner lying next to you. Be in that moment fully. Be truly present.

This simple daily ritual will make you feel more grounded and connected to the people around you. If you do this throughout your day, your stress levels will go down.

The next step is to carve out 15-30 minutes just for you first thing in the morning. If you have to, get up before everyone else. Don’t grab your phone as soon as you open your eyes.

Before you dial into production mode, create a morning ritual as a gift to yourself. Doing things just for you. Be in the receiving mode.

You’ll notice the benefits add up over time.  It will set the tone for the day. You will feel energized and you will take better care of yourself.

As the last step, a few times a day, start noticing what you are thinking about and how you are feeling. 

Half the time we are not present and we are lost in our thoughts. Worrying, planning, ruminating, replaying. You name it.

Stop the time travelling and bring yourself back to this moment in time. Just immerse yourself fully into what you are doing without allowing your mind to wander elsewhere.

 The easiest way to do that is to place your focus on the information inputted by your five senses. Right now

Stay there a while. You’ll see. In that place, there is no struggle or resistance.

See your relationships improve. Life has more meaning. You will be happier.

Try these steps out and keep me posted on the results you notice.

P.S.: Don’t miss my bi-weekly podcast episodes and submit questions or topics of interest

With gratitude  🌿

🌋 Reduce the overwhelm taking over your life !

🌋 Reduce the overwhelm taking over your life !

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🌿 You barely woke up and you’re overwhelmed before the day even started. 

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you wake up in the morning? You can be guaranteed that it will set the mood for the day ahead.

Mindset is everything! 

Our mindset impacts our mood, our behaviours and the choices we make.

When we consciously make an effort in the morning to keep our mindset in check, it will start your day on the right foot. And it makes all the difference.

Our mind in an incessant chatterbox. It never stops and it’s wired to pay attention to the negative

Did you ever notice that?

Did you know that we have between 60 to 80 thousand thoughts a day? Imagine if most of your thoughts are negative. It can weight down on your mood and your energy pretty quickly.

You’ll hear me say this over and over… pay attention to the present moment. It’s the only moment that really exists.

I want you to focus on what happens in your inner world and your outer world, at this precise moment. Yes, right now, as you read this.

You might not realize it but one harsh thought can lead to a storm of more negative harsh thoughts. Next thing you know you are sad, angry, resentful, frustrated because of the ongoing monologue going on in your head. 

Remember that you hold the key to changing what happens in the privacy of your own mind. You can’t control people or external events but you can control how you choose to react to them. 

On the path to a better life, we need two things: self-awareness and being kinder to ourselves.

How do I do that? You wonder.

The first thing I recommend is to live, as best you can, in the present moment.

When we are truly present, we pay more attention to what happens inside of us and outside. We are not lost in our minds. The by-product will be increased self-awareness. 

The sooner you can incorporate living mindfully, the sooner you will calm the monkey brain. The less stress you will experience.

Mindfulness is not another fad technique, it is a way of living. You can’t change your mindset if you are not self-aware.

The second thing you need to do is to let go of judgment of yourself and others. Positive AND negative.

Judgment is a mind trap. Replace those judgments with self-compassion or just let them go. Try to resist the urge to judge.

Then shift your attention back to the present moment. Even if it is a difficult moment.

Just see and feel things as they are. Right now. Don’t resist, don’t label. Just observe what IS.

When you start doing that your mood will improve, your overall mindset will be more positive and you will be more productive. Overwhelm will be reduced drastically!

So, try this out for the next week. Combining noticing your mindset in the present moment and dropping all judgments. 

Use certain cues to remind you to do this several times a day.

Until it becomes a habit, you can set an alarm on your phone a few times a day to start, or you can use walking through doorways as a reminder.

Pay attention to how you feel after a while. Chances are, the struggle will have gone.

P.S.: Don’t miss my bi-weekly podcast episodes and episode 3 is about letting go of judgment!

With gratitude,  🌿

Is Religion Responsible for Violence?

Is Religion Responsible for Violence?

Many fundamentalists have fought and killed in the name of religion. I find this topic fascinating and intellectually stimulating. It is fraught with so much emotion, which I believe is often grounded in ignorance and false beliefs.

Throughout history, and to this day, there have been witch hunts against heretics of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  In ALL religions, people deemed heretical have been subjected not only to punishments, mass persecution, but in extreme cases death and mass executions (e.g., think of suicide bombers).

Sadly today, many Muslims are feared, even hated, because of the actions of few (i.e. terrorists compose the minority of the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world), or due to political propaganda (i.e. think Trump). The same can be said of the prejudice against Catholics, whose celibate priests have harmed little children through their sexual actions. Many men of different faiths still believe that women are inferior and should abide by a different set of rules and standards. It is not that long ago that women could not vote, and there is still inequality of pay. Strong women are still considered “pushy” when a man with the same qualities would be considered “driven”. All these inequalities, injustices, judgments, I believe, are not a matter of religion.

Historically, think of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and fights against the heretics in the Middle Ages. Many people were harmed and killed for the sake of religion, whether it was Catholicism’s witch hunts, or the Muslims who referred to heretics or those who antagonized Islam as “zindiqs”. Think of the violence between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Think of Catholic priests molesting little boys. Think of people in any religion who violate women or ostracise them, or treat them as inferior (even in our modern day Western world), and to this day the violence in the Middle East, the Shiite-Sunni Split (a 1400 year old conflict still very much alive). Not to mention all the private wars we see between families members (who claim to be religious) who fight, argue, expel, in the name of religion and politics…

To this day, in some modern day nations and regions, heresy is still considered an offense punishable by death. All done in the name of God. When you think about it… “man” kills in the name of God, which is such arrogance. Because that means they are acting as God, and thus think they are equal to God. Such a contradiction when their scriptures say “that only God can Judge”.

In the end, all this violence is made in the name of religion, but really it is about power (which is motivated by fear) and money (e.g., oil). It is pure arrogance. When people kill and hurt in the name of God, they are going against the “word of God” that they claim to follow. Whether the holy book is the Qu’ran, the Torah, or the Bible… these documents do not condone killing, yet humans will kill or inflict pain in the name of religion. It is not a question of religion, it is a matter of power and the nature of the human race, and the weakness of the ego. The ego’s search for power is being driven by instinct and NOT by holy scripture or a higher power.

My belief, and that of many, is that to reach transcendence is to move beyond the instincts of the ego. The ego is obsessed with greed, power, fear and jealousy, and we will  ultimately find peace in this world if we can aim to transcend worldly instincts and find the ability to be one with all, live in peace, gratitude, and harmony by looking beyond what the eyes can see….

 

Dr. Gina Madrigrano © , 20180710

 

40 Good Reasons To Practice Mindful Parenting

40 Good Reasons To Practice Mindful Parenting

Mindful Parenting

Mindfulness and meditation have proven beneficial for both parents and children. More and more studies are uncovering the short- and long-term benefits of incorporating mindful parenting practices into families’ lives (1).

 

Meditation and mindfulness are not mere techniques. They are states of being that bring less suffering, more presence, and peace into one’s life. Once a person has experienced the benefits of these practices and the ways in which they permeate our daily life and being, there is no going back. Mindfulness and meditation practices have a positive impact not only on the practitioner but also the people that surround this individual, including our children.

 

A Google search offers this simple definition of mindfulness: “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” Renowned meditation teacher John Kabat-Zinn also emphasizes the importance of noticing “nonjudgmentally” (2) because suffering is caused by the judgments we place on our perceptions.

 

Individuals who have chosen to apply these practices to their parenting have seen improvements in their own lives and the lives of their children. If you are not convinced of the value of these practices and wonder if they are just a fad, here are 40 benefits meditation and mindfulness can provide for parents and children.

 

For parents, a meditation and mindfulness practice offers numerous benefits:

  1. Develops more patience because we do not mix in our problems with those of our child.
  2. Reduces reactivity because we respond from a calm place instead of from past wounds when children push our buttons.
  3. Cultivates emotional awareness.
  4. Allows us to exercise self-regulation.
  5. Slows down time because we become more fully involved in our child’s life, and so do not miss out on the wonderful and simple moments of their childhood, which goes by too fast.
  6. Develops gratitude for all the mundane and extraordinary moments with our child.
  7. Helps us to become in tune with and accepting of our child’s actual needs, thus allowing us to make better choices.
  8. Promotes secure attachment with our child and a trusting relationship.
  9. Enables us to be more present, which allows space for us to listen with full attention and be able to validate our children.
  10. Develops compassionate and non-judgmental awareness in all interactions.
  11. Facilitates finding pleasure in and appreciating simple things.
  12. Helps us cope during stressful moments, such as tantrums or emotional outbursts.
  13. Promotes our ability to model proper emotion management, and this is how children learn best: by imitation.
  14. Prevents our children from becoming fearful or traumatized by our out of control reactions or screaming.
  15. Improves parenting interventions (3).
  16. Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
  17. Improves the immune system, which means parents are healthier (4).
  18. Promotes greater satisfaction with our parenting skills and therefore with our relationships with our children.
  19. Facilitates incorporating mindfulness into all aspects of our lives (5).

 

Children can also experience many benefits from a meditation and mindfulness practice:

  1. Develops the area of the brain responsible for emotion regulation and impulse control.
  2. Reduces stress, anxiety, and fears.
  3. Allows for a less reactive state to emerge.
  4. Promotes feelings of safety and security.
  5. Improves self-esteem and self-confidence because children feel heard, seen, and validated.
  6. Develops problem-solving skills by developing self-reflection and self-awareness, instead of being reactive and living on autopilot.
  7. Develops conscious individuals.
  8. Improves emotion management.
  9. Improves resilience.
  10. Cultivates better self-awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Children become better skilled at communicating their needs to others.
  11. Promotes healthy psycho-social development in children. Improved social skills and interactions emerge because children become skilled communicators. Conversely, they become good listeners themselves.
  12. Creates grateful children able to live in the present moment.
  13. Fosters compassion and empathy for others; they become less self-centered.
  14. Diminishes behavioural problems, while improving emotional health and behavioural functioning (6) (7).
  15. Improves attention, focus, concentration, memory, and learning (4).
  16. Improves emotional intelligence.
  17. Reduces reactivity to others’ anger. They do not take it personally.
  18. Promotes self-reliance by teaching them to accept and tolerate their own emotions, feelings, sensations, and thoughts. In turn, they find comfort within by learning to soothe and calm themselves without depending on external factors.
  19. Allows children to find happiness from the inside, independent of external circumstances.
  20. Improves parent-child relationship during adolescence.
  21. Cultivates more emotionally and socially competent youth(8)(9).

 

If you are new to mindfulness, start small. Choose moments throughout your day where you can pay attention to the unfolding of each moment. Become the non-judgmental observer of the experiences taken in by your five senses. Moreover, take in the beauty of your life. Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into our family life can only prove beneficial to all those involved.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Many of the benefits covered in this post are also summarized here : Duncan,L.G., Coatsworth, J.D. & Greenberg, M.T.(2009) A Model of Mindful Parenting: Implications for Parent–Child Relationships and Prevention Research Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2009 Sep; 12(3): 255–270.doi:  10.1007/s10567-009-0046-3.
  2. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice,10, 144–156. doi:10.1093/clipsy/bpg016.
  3. Dumas, J. E. (2005). Mindfulness-based parent training: Strategies to lessen the grip of automaticity in families with disruptive children. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology,34, 779–791. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp3404_20.  [PubMed]
  4. Mindfulness Web Site: Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. www.greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness
  5. Coyne, L. W., & Murrell, A. R. (2009). The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
  6. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Fisher, B. C., Wahler, R. G., McAleavey, K., et al. (2006). Mindful parenting decreases aggression, noncompliance, and self-injury in children with autism. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,14(3), 169–177. doi:10.1177/10634266060140030401.
  7. Singh,N.N, Lancioni, G.E., Winton, A.S.W.,  Singh, J., Curtis, W.J.Wahler, R.G.,& McAleavey, K.M. (2007) . Mindful Parenting Decreases Aggression and Increases Social Behavior in Children With Developmental Disabilities, 31 (6) , 749-771. doi: 10.1177/0145445507300924
  8. Eisenberg, N., Cumberland, A., & Spinrad, T. L. (1998). Parental socialization of emotion. Psychological Inquiry,9, 241–273. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli0904_1.  [PMC free article]  [PubMed]
  9. Katz, L. F., Wilson, B., & Gottman, J. M. (1999). Meta-emotion philosophy and family adjustment: Making an emotional correction. In M. J. Cox & J. Brooks-Gunn (Eds.), Conflict and cohesion in families: Causes and consequences. The Advances in Family Therapy Research Series (pp. 131–165). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

 

Help your Child Feel Calm and Relaxed

Help your Child Feel Calm and Relaxed

A simple tool as mindfulness can help your child feel calm and relaxed. More and more schools are starting to incorporate mindfulness and meditation practices in their  curriculla because they have witnessed their beneficial effects on children’s behaviour and wellbeing.

It not only can improve attention, concentration and focus, children feel happier, calmer, more fulfilled, relaxed and creative and it impacts their academic performance. It also improves mental states such as depression and anxiety, and ruminative thoughts. It helps children to cope with the everyday stresses  such as exams, relationships, sleep problems, and family  and social issues.

In addition to a daily practice of mindfulness, I believe that there are two additional habits we can instil in our children that will not only improve their wellbeing, but will also make them more compassionate and grateful individuals, thus less likely to be entitled little brats. These practices are daily acts of kindness, which helps the child feel good about himself and the impact he has on others, and the practice of gratitude.

There are many instructional videos online that teach children and adults the practice of mindfulness.

When you teach children to practice daily acts of kindness, it moves them away from selfishness and teaches them the meaning of being of service, of being helpful and kind. Acts of kindness do not need to be any actions which require purchasing something, although those can be welcomed as well (e.g., donating food to the food bank, giving money or clothes to a family in need, donating money for research, etc.). Daily acts of kindness can be as simple as writing a loving note, preparing breakfast in bed, helping with chores, giving a hug, walking the dog, cleaning a mess, opening a door for someone, carrying a heavy bag, etc).

When you practice this and you teach this to your children, often children will find opportunities on their own to do acts of kindness because they see how good it makes people feel and as a result they feel good as well.

Finally, if many times a day you model to your kids the value of gratitude, even for the smallest things in life that we tend to take for granted, you will as a result reduce whining, complaining, and a sense of entitlement in children.

I am a strong proponent of prevention… Focus on the outcome you want to see in your children and become a role model of the value you hold true. This will have so much more weight than lecturing to your kids when they complain about not getting the latest iPhone or having to help out around the house.

When parents and children alike can practice on a daily basis mindfulness, acts of kindness and gratitude, these three simple practices will significantly improve the quality of your life in a significant manner. Those are three of the many practices of happy people.

There is a caveat to all this… you can’t expect your kids to develop these habits if you don’t embody them yourself. Always remember these simple pieces of advise as part of the parenting journey:

  • BE the man or the woman you want your children to become by embodying the values you hold on to the most. It is never too late to start! As Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”… (the world here being your children).
  • Don’t worry so much about what other people do or say. We all have different values. If it does not feel right in your gut, even if you are the minority, don’t do it or don’t allow your kids to talk you into it. It is OK to be different and to be proud of who you are. If you fear what others think, how can your kids be confident around their friends and not worry so much about rejection?
  • Be driven by your values, not by fear, and don’t worry so much about what other people think. Remember this: on their death bed one of the things the dying regret the most is that they wished they had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them!
  • Make it a daily practice to take time to be mindful and live in the present moment, be grateful, and practice daily acts of kindness and reap the benefits!

Hope you enjoy the videos below:

 

 

Why Rush?

Why Rush?

That lucky 13!

December 13th…. a date forever engraved in my mind. How can I ever forget that Monday morning that changed my life forever…

Five  years ago today, at the tender age of two and a half my beautiful daughter Beatrice  was diagnosed with High Risk Leukemia. I won’t get into the story of what happened that day, nor the story of her illness because it was all documented on a blog I created just for her. I did this so that she could remember how courageous she was and all that she had been through. It was also very therapeutic for me to get it out of me because the pain of seeing her suffer was literally unbearable. Finally, the blog allowed people close to me to be updated without me having to be tortured by repeating our daily struggles over and over again… going through it once was traumatic enough…

This post is a positive post. It is a post about love, about cherishing every moment with your kids. It’s about taking the time to stop and smell the roses, and watching  the butterflies or fairies as they fly by.

Why hurry?

When I catch myself telling my daughter to “Just hurry up!”, whether it’s to get to bed, or rushing out the door for an appointment or school, I quickly remind myself of how precious every minute with her is. All too often when we were stuck in the hospital (her treatment lasted almost 3 years), how I wished we could be home doing the “boring” things. Because she was so weak and tired by the illness and the chemo, she had no energy to do what normal 3 year olds do. How I longed to see her jump around, run and scream, and be “annoying”…

I can truly say that I do cherish every moment with her and when I stray.. .Whether it’s wishing I had more time to write my blog posts, or when I feel rushed, I quickly ask myself if I’d rather be in 2010 when I was forced to live each moment to the fullest because I never knew what tomorrow might bring. Certainty no longer existed in my world… That was taken from me, December 13, 2010! I knew all too well, that our lives would never ever be the same.

What really matters!

I went from a busy successful career, to an unemployed stay at home single mom, living off donations ! I quickly found out what was really  important in life, and that I could truly be happy with little.. really. I got rid of my 40K truck, avoided stores and became creative when it came to entertain my daughter and bond with her. Forget fancy cars and restaurants, buying clothes, decorating the house, going to the the hairdresser, etc. Getting her back to health, and enjoying life to the fullest were my only priorities. Since then I realized that all we need is health and the rest will follow, because without it… well… your options are limited.

I was never a big spender, not into useless luxuries, but still, I’d spoil myself from time to time. I tell people that, although it was truly the worse time of my life, I had never been happier. No small feat for a  naturally anxious mom who worried a lot.

Decluttering my life!

Being in the helping profession, I was always into self improvement and getting my act together, and just like  everyone else…. I am always a work in progress and I  always have something to work on. Well, the gift of Beatrice’s  illness was to teach me to live in the moment, to  let go of resentments and of a past that is long gone, the importance of forgiveness to be able to move on, to not spend too much time worrying about a future that doesn’t yet exist, and to clean up shop when it came to relationships that no longer served me. It taught me to appreciate every single moment as a gift because it truly is. You never know how in an instant it can all be taken away, just like that, in the blink of an eye! Trust me.

The gift of patience!

I have always been ambitious professionally and striving to do more, and better my craft and also keep reinventing myself. That has not changed. What has changed is the urgency to get things done, to do more. It has taught me to be patient: all in due time.  Sure I get frustrated when I don’t get to the end of my To Do list or reach my goals’ timeline, but I quickly set myself straight, and bring myself to the present moment, and live it fully, in gratitude and acceptance. I constantly have to remember “all in divine timing” and I try to let go of trying to control the outcomes. And finally… when I lose my way, get frustrated or down, I sing to myself the chorus of the song “Unanswered Prayers”, or I repeat this very helpful mantra that has served me well so many times “Man’s rejection is God’s protection”.

 

(Lyrics that touch me : Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers ; Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs ; That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care; Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers )

 

I try not to resist what is anymore, you know the “bad” stuff… So it is not that I don’t have all the human emotions and struggles that most of us face.. I have just found a better way to cope with them when they arise. I have tried to start seeing that everything happens for a reason and I wait for the gift to show up. That is a major change for me: my immediate reaction naturally tends to always be anxiety!

It is inevitable that through every tiny or major hurdle lies a gift. Whether it be a better opportunity, catching my daughter’s special moves, bonding more, there is always a silver lining.

What’s the rush?

All this to say that, when we rush we are really chasing the future which has not yet happened and by doing so, we miss out on the beauty and the gift of this present moment. And if we don’t cherish that present moment, it is forever lost. So we need to live NOW. We need to slow down.

Before you know it your child will grow up and many things they do now will be gone forever due to the mere fact that they are maturing. And then… you will look back with nostalgia or regret. All too often parents can’t wait for their kids to walk and be independent, but with independance come distance. They no longer want to snuggle, they no longer need your help, they slowly but surely need you less and less. This is why, to be able to let go, you truly need to cherish all  these mundane moments as they arise because in their simplicity they are special because they are fleeting, and quickly pass you by.

So slow down… Instead of rushing the bedtime and morning routines, grant them more time. Allow children to be their natural selves, which is to live each moment as they arise (as we should) mindfully, playfully, full of awe with  the simplest things. As a result, there will be less nagging, less screaming, less arguing, less repeating  for compliance because they will have had the time to live fully at their pace, not yours. And when it is time to go, time to sleep, they will be ready…

Slowing down and being a participant in their lives instead of a referee will also bring you closer. And there is nothing more important than the parent-child bond. Love is truly at the core of a healthy relationship.

Our teachers!

It is us that need to slow down. WE have lost our way and forgotten what is important in life. We need to see the world through children’s  eyes, and hear the message they are attempting to pass on : “simple is better; now is what counts”.

When we slow down, we can truly learn from our children by simply being a witness of how they approach life and get back to that state from where we come from, but have forgotten our natural state. They know how to be mindful, they know what living life fully means, they know the importance of the present moment… we are the ones who need to learn these skills once again. And once we do, life will be so much more pleasant!

 

To read about Beatrice’s journey and mine, click on this link.