Learning to listen to yourself is an essential tool for parenting. This dimension of self-care is not often highlighted in parenting education. Considerations often focus on attending to kids, partners, and helping everyone function as a team. To truly be able to listen to others, however, and to create a cohesive family unit, you need to know where to begin. If you have the ability to start with yourself, then everything else has the potential to naturally fall into place.
As a parent, I see that if I am scattered and tense, odds are the rest of my household is also. When I see my surroundings have degenerated into chaos, it is a reminder for me to look at my own state. I can take a step back and remember the Breema Principle of No Force. I consider the irony—I am moments away from shouting at my children in order to get them to stop screaming.
What I have found effective is to use the excitement in the room as a reminder of the quiet I wish for in myself. When things fall apart externally, instead of draining my energy in reaction, I have the opportunity to remember that I wish to respond, rather than react. I can be supported in this aim by bringing my mind to my breath, and to the activity of my body. This makes it possible to let the chattering mind go to the background, and allow the simple movements of the body support me to stay in the present moment.
This is a skill that I have practiced over and over while learning Breema. When doing Self-Breema, or giving a Breema session, I remain interested in the activity of my body. I develop a familiarity with body-mind connection, and I know the steps I can take to get there. I validate for myself the potential that coming to the body has to bring me out of my thoughts and into the experience of life in the moment. This gives me both a direction and the ability to return to my body in any of life’s activities.
If I gain enough dexterity with body-mind connection, I can bring self-care into any experience. If my wish is to start with myself, then every moment of parenting can be a platform for greater self-understanding. I begin to see that the circumstances of my life are not in my way, but are actually there to support me. Each time I see this, I grow closer to having the ability for intentional action, rather than just living in reaction.
Alexandra Johnson, MD, is an international Instructor at the Breema Center and has a private integrative medical practice in Oakland, California. For information on consultation go to www.greetinghealth.com. To find out about upcoming classes Alexandra is teaching, visit www.breema.info/alexandrajohnson.