The Value of Mindfulness in Parenting from Robyn Cruze, MA
My Nan once said, "As infants, our children are heavy on our arms, when they get older, they are heavy on our hearts." Worrying about our children is common, of course, but if we add mental illness into the mix, life can go from worry to downright scary. As a mom recovered from an eating disorder, having a child show personality traits that I possess revs up the worry motor within. Fear causes me to scour through "normal" events to find any residue of the illness that I have had, so that if spotted, I can immediately destroy it. Oh my, if only I had the power! Lying awake at night, I sometimes cripple myself with "what-ifs," like "what if one of my children goes through what I did?" "What if I can't help her?" I can what-if myself frozen, rendering me useless to the present moment and to those who need me and my attention. Recently, I did a webinar on how those affected by an eating disorder can navigate the stressful holiday season. For the first time, I spoke about my use of a higher power to support my recovered life. I'd never mentioned this tool before because of fear that people will misinterpret it as religious, and possibly, for some, due to their beliefs, would turn them off. (Yes, I admit, I still worry about what people think of me sometimes—I’m working on it!) For me, having a higher power is not necessarily about “religion” or even “spirituality,” rather the connection to something greater than myself that calms me down and allows me to be still. Getting still creates a space to let go and seek a solution to problems we cannot solve by ourselves. In the stillness between thought and action is the power that too easily slips away when shrouded by worry and fear as I frantically search for the answer. I access stillness by sitting or meditating. When I sit and get still and consciously slow down my breathing, I have a much better chance of discovering what my power is in situations that freak me out. Ultimately, when I access stillness, I get to be there at the moment, present for myself and my family. I get to be calm in the storm. Other ways we can connect with stillness through walking, running, hiking, or yoga. . I can connect with the power of stillness anywhere or anytime if the need arises. If I'm in a restaurant, I can take a trip to the loo, or if I am at home, I can go to my room or get outside. I get to reconnect with the strength and resilience and the hope and optimism that forever lives in me. Sure, some of us access stillness via higher power, God, Goddess, Jesus, Allah, Universal Energy, The Source, or something that is more powerful than they, such as the ocean—all of it helpful and impactful. Whatever you believe, tapping into stillness allows us to find the strength we need for anything life throws at us that is heavy on our hearts.