Stress. It’s a part of everyday life — especially if you’re a parent and feel like your attention is being pulled in a hundred directions at once. In order to help with that — quickly — we’ve got a mindful breathing exercise from the book Mindfulness for Mums and Dads that takes only three minutes.
Featuring dozens of case studies, as well as simple mindfulness practices that can be carried out anywhere, Mindfulness for Mums and Dads offers practical tools for feeling calmer and more compassionate, and for being fully present for the small moments in life that create true and lasting happiness.
So, yep, exactly what we parents need. Try it now!
Mindful Stretching for Parents by Dr. Diana Korevaar
Stand in bare feet or socks with your feet hip width apart, and your feet more or less parallel to each other.
On an in-breath, slowly raise your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, and then after breathing out, on the next in-breath slowly raise your arms until the hands reach high above your head. As your arms move, see if you can be fully alive to the sensations in your muscles as they work to lift the arms and then maintain them in the stretch.
Allowing your breath to move in and out at its own pace, continue to stretch upward, with your fingertips gently pushing towards the sky, your feet firmly grounded on the floor. Once again take time to feel the sensations of the stretch in the muscles and joints of your body.
When you are ready, on the next out-breath, slowly lower your arms until they rest beside your body. Feel the changing sensations as they move, noticing perhaps the feeling of your clothes as they move on the surface of your skin.
With the next in-breath stretch each arm and hand up in turn as if you were picking fruit from a tree that’s just out of reach. Notice the breath as you look up beyond the fingers. Allow the opposite heel to the outstretched arm to come off the floor as you stretch, feeling the sensations through your body, from the fingers of one hand to the toes of the opposite foot.
As you return your arms to your side, tune in to how it feels to let go of the effort that is required to lift the weight of each arm.
And finally now, play with rolling your shoulders while letting your arms rest by your side. Begin by raising your shoulders upwards towards the ears as far as they will go, then roll them backwards, as if you are attempting to draw the shoulder blades together, then allow them to lower completely.
Now squeeze your shoulders together in front of the body as far as they will go, as if you were trying to touch them together.
Allow your breath to determine the speed of rotation. Continue rolling through these various positions as smoothly and mindfully as you can, first in one direction then in the opposite direction.
Whenever you find yourself carried away by the intensity of physical sensations, or by thoughts, feelings or daydreams, gently reconnect with the here and now by refocusing your attention on the movements of the breath or on a sense of your body as a whole.
And, hey, who says you can’t teach your kids to do this, too? For more mindfulness tips for parents, go here. –Jenn