Family Addiction Recovery: A Blog
According to a new study, mindfulness may lead to a happier, healthier parenting experience.
In the information age, parents are bombarded with tips for how to improve our child-rearing: 8 Ways to Be a Better Parent! Are You a Spoiler? Even if it is well-meaning, all of this advice can be overwhelming—especially for those of us with young children.
It can be hard to find the time to commit to changes we think are important, like making our own baby food or doing some sort of daily exercise. So the average parent simply does not have the hours, or the psychological bandwidth, to make self-improvement a part-time job. Still, there must be some practical value to gain from such an inexhaustible knowledge base. Is it possible to be inspired by all the “better parenting” literature, rather than simply discouraged by its demands?
A new study from the Catholic University of Chile suggests that parents may be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Why? As it turns out, the key to better parenting and better mental health may be as simple as letting go of worry and releasing ourselves from judgment. In other words, mindfulness.
The researchers asked 62 mothers of preschool-aged children about their mindfulness and mindful parenting. Mindfulness can be defined as an in-the-moment awareness and acceptance of our thoughts and feelings. When applied to parenting, it includes the ability to ignore critical thoughts about our parenting choices so we can focus on being present with our child. Rather than asking, “Is he going to cry all night?” or thinking, “It’s probably because I didn’t give him enough dinner,” the mindful parent accepts the crying and deals with it moment-to-moment.
Just to clarify, mindfulness doesn’t dictate that you like the crying, just that you shift your awareness to the present situation and show compassion toward yourself and your child. Similarly, the parent of a toddler refusing to put on his shoes doesn’t have to rejoice in their child’s stubbornness (although the tenacity of a two-year-old is really quite admirable). But they can attend to their child’s current emotional state and accept the tantrum, rather than launching automatically into anger or self-doubt. The researchers believe that this could have positive effects beyond simply decreasing parenting stress, such as providing good modeling for children and even enhancing child brain development.
In addition to reporting on their mindfulness, mothers in the current study answered survey questions about their depression, anxiety, general stress, and parent-related stress. As hypothesized, mindfulness was strongly related to a mother’s mental health: The mothers who were more mindful were less stressed, anxious, and depressed.
When the researchers dug even deeper, they found that a mother’s ability to describe and label her experiences in a non-judgmental way (“I’m yearning for a few hours alone, and that’s okay”) actually predicted her levels of depression, stress, parenting stress, and mindful parenting. In other words, parents who can name their present challenge and not blame themselves or others are more likely to have a healthier mindset and a smoother parent-child relationship.
Fortunately for the harried parents of the world, the mothers surveyed in this study did not participate in any formal mindfulness exercises or regular meditation. It seems that, even in the absence of a daily podcast or weekly class, we can make both parenting and life easier by just staying in the present. Here are a few tips for mindful parenting:
More on Mindful Parenting
Christine Carter talks about losing her mindfulness as a parent.
Watch Christine Carter explain her simple trick for mindful parenting.
Read an interview with Shauna Shapiro about mindful discipline.
Listen to a podcast about mindful parenting.
Want to be more mindful? Try these mindfulness practices.
The Self-Compassion Break is one of the most effective exercises that we teach in our mindful self-compassion program because it is very portable and can easily be used whenever you encounter difficult moments in daily life.
When you notice something about yourself that you don’t like, when you make a big mistake or when you’re going through a very difficult or emotionally troubling experience, it’s crucial to learn how to respond to yourself compassionately.
The most important step is to soothe yourself with a physical gesture of compassion. Self-compassion actually taps into the body’s mammalian care-giving system and releases oxytocin and other opiates. So just like a newborn baby lion would feel comforted by his mother’s soothing touch and gentle purring warmth, so can we feel comforted by our own touch.
Take a moment to find a physical gesture that’s soothing to you. For many people, putting both hands over the center of your chest or your heart center works the best. Feeling the warmth of your hands, feeling the gentle pressure of your hands on your chest, or perhaps noticing the beating of your heart and the warmth can be very comforting.
Feel free to experiment a little bit. Some people respond more to putting their hands on belly, or cradling their cheeks very tenderly in their hands. Go ahead and take a moment can find a physical gesture of soothing and comfort that feels good, calming and reassuring to you.
The idea behind the Self-Compassion Break is that throughout the day, when you find yourself emotionally struggling, you can use this physical gesture of comfort along with a series of words that are designed to evoke the feeling of self-compassion. Let’s try it now.
I’d like you to think of something in your life that’s troubling you, something that’s causing you to judge yourself, something that’s scary, sad or stressful. Usually there are several candidates interviewing for the job, so choose one that feels right to work with right now. Call the situation to mind by remembering what you did, what you said and how you felt.
As you think about this situation, use your physical gesture of affection. Feel the physical touch as a kind and caring response to the situation. Then silently repeat in your mind the following phrases:
This is a moment of suffering.
The first phrase reminds you that what you’re going through is hard. Suffering is part of life, an inextricable part of the shared human experience. We aren’t alone, we aren’t isolated, we aren’t abnormal - suffering is part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
Get in touch with that intention to respond to your suffering with kindness and care. Feel the warmth of your hands and give yourself the compassion you need. Give yourself full permission to give yourself what you need.
Each situation is going to be unique, so ask yourself if there is there anything you need to hear. Are there any words or phrases that come to you that are just what you need to hear as you are facing this struggle?
It’s good to come up with a set of phrases, the ones I gave or maybe your own, that you can say almost automatically. Use your gesture and say “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life, so may I be kind to myself in this moment and may I give myself the compassion I need.”
That’s the Self-Compassion Break. You can do it slowly as a mini-meditation, or you can use it in the heat of the moment when the situation’s happening in real time.
The Self-Compassion Break is a little portable friend, a reminder of self-compassion that you can carry with you throughout the day. The people who take our workshop find that it’s one of the most powerful and easy ways to help them integrate self-compassion into their daily life.
You can listen to the audio version of this Power Practice on Emerging Women’s website
“By 2005, antidepressants had become the #1 prescribed drug class in the country.
But these medications do not treat depression. Whether it’s Prozac, Cymbalta, Zoloft, Elavil, Lexapro, Wellburin, or any of the other commonly prescribed antidepressants, these medicines simply treat symptoms, and only minimally so... I am saddened by the fact that the billion-dollar psychotropic pharmaceutical industry is predicated on the idea that people will take a pill to treat symptoms, while the underlying disorder is ignored. So there’s never any real focus on actually curing or even improving the root cause of the illness, let alone getting people off the medication...
All of the antidepressant medications currently on the market are designed to artificially alter neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Yet, when we consider the fact that these same chemicals found in the brain are also produced in the gut, and that their availability to the brain is largely governed by the activity of gut bacteria, we are forced to realize that ground zero for all things mood-related is the gut.”
—David Perlmutter from Brain Maker
Several things to note here.
First, antidepressant medications are not actually treating depression. They’re treating symptoms *not* the root cause.
As Perlmutter puts it “... they [anti-depressants] aren’t getting to the source of the problem and putting out the fire. They are, in a sense, poorly constructed Band-Aids over cuts that won’t heal.”
It’s kinda like putting ice cubes into a boiling pot of water. You might reduce the boil temporarily but you’ll need to keep on dropping in ice cubes. It would be a lot more effective to focus on turning off the flame that’s causing the water to boil, eh?
This isn’t just relegated to a discussion on depression. Perlmutter dedicates a chapter to depression, obesity, and autism and touches on a range of other issues throughout the book.
He tells us that today more than 11 percent of kids are diagnosed as having ADHD. He reminds us that it doesn’t just come out of nowhere.
But, if you go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, “the homepage for ADHD includes facts about symptoms and diagnosis, then moves right to treatment options, none of which include a dietary protocol. There is not a single mention of prevention.”
Symptoms vs. root causes. Let’s focus on the root causes!
And, in this context, let’s focus on optimizing our microbiome!
- Brian Johnson
This article is derived from a talk given by Richard Davidson, neuroscientist and founder at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, at the Greater Good Science Center’s Mindfulness & Well-Being at Work conference.
Well-being is a skill.
All of the work that my colleagues and I have been doing leads inevitably to this central conclusion. Well-being is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello. If one practices the skills of well-being, one will get better at it.
Based on our research, well-being has four constituents that have each received serious scientific attention. Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity—so we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen. Practicing these four skills can provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of well-being in our lives.
Tap here to cont.
I feel fortunate to be able to say that most of the time I feel happy and calm, and that is for many reasons. However, this was not always the case and there is one short little phrase which played a major role in transforming my life.
This phrase, and the way I used it, allowed me to go from a life mostly dominated by fear and worry to one characterized by joy, gratitude and peace of mind.
Because of this phrase, I have learned how to instantly banish negative thoughts and feelings. It has so profoundly impacted my life that I want to share with you what this phrase is and exactly how you can use it to create the life you've always wanted.
I know you're probably eager to know what this phrase is, but if you'll first listen to a short story, it will significantly enhance your understanding of the power of this phrase and how you can utilize it to feel much happier and at peace.
Ever since I can recall, I have wanted to understand. When I was a child I immersed myself in the sciences. When I went to college, I studied psychology, in graduate school I studied Asian religions and after graduating, I moved to Asia and did more than my share of traveling and searching.
Somewhere along the way, something simple yet profound happened: I turned my attention inward and started to try to understand myself.
Slowly I came to a realization which dramatically transformed my entire world. I realized that, with practice, I could exert authority over what I think and how I feel.
Tap here to cont.
First, just breathe and calm your mind and body down a bit so that you can think a little more clearly.
I do this by first sitting down. Then I breathe with my stomach for a minute or two. During this time I keep 100% of my focus on the air going in and out of my nostrils.
2. Zoom out.
I have often found that zooming out a bit alleviates stress and inner pressure.
When you feel trapped and like the world is pressing down on you then it is easy to get a very unhelpful perspective on things.
So I ask myself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 months?
This allows me to see things from a broader perspective.
3. Unclutter your focus.
When you feel overwhelmed and stressed out it’s easy to get stuck in thinking you have to do 5 things at once to get a handle on things and to get back on track.
So I ask myself:
Honestly, which ones of these things can wait until tomorrow or next week with no or small consequences?
4. Go for just taking care of the rest of today one small step at a time.
After I have alleviated pressure, overwhelm and stress by using the three steps above I narrow my focus.
I do not look forward because then I’ll see all the things I have to do to reach my goal or get all the way to done with a project.
Instead, I go smaller and focus on just taking care of the rest of today.
Nothing more. Tomorrow will come in time and then I will take care of it too.
But for now I only focus on what is most important today.
Have a recharging Sunday and a less stressful week ahead!
By Henrick of The Positivity Blog
Thousands of studies have shown the positive effects of meditation. Here are the highlights.
The benefits of a meditation practice are no secret. The practice is often touted as a habit of highly successful (and happy) people, recommended as a means of coping with stress and anxiety, and praised as the next-big-thing in mainstream wellness. And it’s not just anecdotal. Thousands of studies have shown the positive impact that meditating has on our health and well-being. We’ve culled through the list to bring you highlights from the early stages of research into mindfulness.
Tap here to cont.
“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.” — Albert Einstein
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” — Buddha
Live in the moment. Be present. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it.
Yet most of the time our minds are wandering, and we are either planning for the future or rehashing the past. In fact, a recent Harvard study found that, on average, our minds wander nearly 50 percent of the time.
The benefits of living in the present moment are plentiful.
The only time you are truly alive is in the present moment.
Not in the past. Not in the future.
You live your life only *NOW*.
Being present helps us savor the simple moments of life, calms us down during times of stress, and helps us to be more focused.
Ultimately living in the present moment enables us to become happier and more joyful.
There are so many benefits of living in the present moment, it is no wonder everyone is trying to figure out just how to do it.
So, what can be done?
Well, I asked the experts — 13 of them.
Tap here to cont.
Timothy Harrington is passionate about helping family members of the addicted loved one awaken to their own power and purpose.