THE BLOG

How Mindfulness Kept Me From Exploding at my Child

04/23/2015 05:14 pm ET | Updated Jun 23, 2015
Hunter Clarke-Fields

My 3-year old was feeling bad. Her chosen mode of communication all day was whining, grunting, shrieking and that tiny little, high-pitched voice that I can't understand. It was wearing me down.

After getting more of this communication at the pool, I was not enjoying the present moment. I was annoyed. Really irritated. Close to losing it.

You know know the feeling.

But Hunter, aren't you a mindfulness coach?

Practicing mindfulness or meditation doesn't mean that we don't have challenging feelings anymore.

Indeed, we may become more aware of them. But, with mindfulness, we are able to let them go more easily. Irritation and anger will pass more quickly.

Really, it's possible.

Over time, feelings can pass through like clouds in a windy sky.

Plus, we've been practicing the remedy: awareness of the present moment. We are better able to see the good things too.

That day at the pool, mindfulness practice saved me from my "brain weather."

I couldn't stop or control my daughter's actions, but I could control where I placed my attention.

In the car driving home, I wanted to distract myself from my irritation. I noticed the urge to push away my feelings.

In the past, I might have suppressed my feelings. Then, later, it would all come out in an explosion, leaving us both feeling terrible.

Instead, I rocked my mindfulness.

I stopped and took a breath. I repeated this slogan, or gatha, from the great mindfulness teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, to myself: as I breathe in, I say to myself, "I have arrived." As I breath out, I say to myself, "I am home."

Ah.

It gave me just the bit of space I needed to appreciate the present again.

You can rock those difficult moments too:

1. Acknowledge what you are feeling. It's OK to be angry or frustrated. We can't avoid difficult feelings with ourselves or our kids. The first step is always acknowledgement: "Hello irritation. I see you there." Or for our kids: "It looks like you are frustrated!"

2. Breathe into the present moment. "I have arrived, I am home," works nicely here. Take three breaths to pause and get centered in yourself. You CAN breathe through this.

3. Respond mindfully. Once you are centered and have released a bit of the tension, you can respond from a more clear-headed, soul-centered place. Or you can take yourself away from the situation to chill out more. Respond when you are grounded.

It won't always work. But over time and practice, you'll have more and more wins. It's about progress, not perfection.

Practice is essential for mindfulness to work.

I find that having a daily mindfulness practice makes me a calmer and more present mother. I have that self-regulation now that's essential. We model how to live for our kids.

You don't have to find a guru or meditate for hours to have your own practice.

I'm leading a free 14-day virtual Mindfulness Retreat starting on May 4th. You can do it from anywhere in the world and it's designed specifically for busy parents. Click here to learn more.

Now it's your turn.

How do you keep from exploding at your kids? Start the conversation in the comments below!

Thanks so much for reading. I love how this generation of parents is determined to make a change and make peace and well-being a priority.