You can’t have a happy family unless you’re happy yourself. Raageshwari Loomba, an award-winning speaker on mindfulness, shows us how to create an excellent atmosphere for the entire family to thrive in. Her relateable style is coupled with real-life examples, such as that of Albert Einstein, who couldn’t speak till the age of four and was a poor student. His parents encouraged him with love and allowed him to learn at his own pace. This, she shows, is the way to bring up your own little genius.
Building a Happy Family brings to you 11 simple mindfulness philosophies that will enrich and strengthen your and your children’s inner world. Through scientific research and her own intimate story of heartbreak and facial paralysis, Raageshwari emphasises how our thoughts can manifest further struggles or glory, and how teaching children early that our inner world attracts our outer world is key. Parents are taught to encourage their children’s original expressions, creativity and joy, and not lose sight of it in their own lives too. This is the secret to a happy family.
Read an excerpt from the book below:
There are many inner-work philosophies, just as there are many meditation techniques. To counter anxiety, restlessness, anger, stress and depression, we can turn to the following:
The zen method, wherein we build our centre by focusing only on one object.
The mantra method, wherein we build our awareness by consistent repetition of a mantra or a shloka.
The t’ai chi, yoga or qigong method, wherein we build our alertness with slow body movements to align with our inner feelings and thoughts.
However, mindfulness is particularly brilliant for parents because it gently reminds us to be present, to live to the fullest now, to not be concerned about getting to the next place. By being present now, we give children what they crave— our complete attention. Not to mention, we learn to be happy, we learn to be grateful and we alleviate stress and anxiety. In short, we become like children.
Santhosh Babu, founder, OD Alternatives, and mindfulness coach, says, ‘Psychologists, whichever branch of psychology they believe or practice, collectively agree that our behavioural patterns are shaped at an early stage of our lives. The most important influence for most of us at an early stage is the influence of our parents. Thus, our parenting styles, our behaviour towards children and the way we bring them up become the most influencing factors in who they end up becoming. Here, the importance of mindful parenting comes into the picture. Are we projecting our unfulfilled dreams on to our children? The way we react or act in front of our children could shape their world view and belief system. So how can we be the role models who allow healthy mental development in our children while we live in a world of distractions? Mindfulness philosophy and mindfulness techniques help us to be fully present for our children which in turn develop empathy and emotional resilience in them.’
Why is mindfulness important?
Do you wake up exhausted, thinking, ‘What needs to be done today?’ Wake up spouse, wake up children, pack the tiffin, get to school, get to work, answer emails, answer texts and oh! We are hosting a dinner tonight!’ Do you keep thinking about what needs to be done next? Do you always seem to be in a rush? All these are classic symptoms that you are never fully HERE and are constantly anxious and stressed about the next action on the to-do list. You are overwhelmed and constantly snapping. You get irritated and provoked by family, friends and especially your children. Rather than listening and being still for a while, you react impulsively. Then you keep thinking about it and regretting your outburst. The same pattern of anxiety, restlessness, worry and anger, followed by regret, continues in your life. Hence, mindfulness is important. With mindfulness, we can train ourselves to slow down so that we can achieve much more. We can learn to enjoy this moment NOW and savour its memories. Our family, friends and colleagues will then see that we can listen with love and reason with patience. Our relationships will flourish. With a few simple changes and techniques, you will see how your life is in your control again. You will have patience, presence, more focus, less anger and more insight. The fact that you are able to focus on the present moment will take away a great deal of stress and anxiety from your life.
But what does my mindfulness have to do with the mindfulness of my children?
The philosophy of mindfulness is all about not being judgemental and being present. Today, parenting is the opposite of mindfulness; it is all about judging and rushing around. Children are naturally mindful as they are not culturebound, have zero judgemental qualities, zero prejudices, are happy without a reason and not concerned about getting to the next destination.They are born with the gift to understand that our inner world creates our external world. Children are naturally curious and filled with wonder. They cheer up quickly and forgive and forget easily. Their desires are simpler; they wish to touch a pebble or wave at another kid passing by or simply play in the rain. They love being present in the NOW and are not even aware of the great gift they possess. Children lose this gift because of conditioning and well-meaning adults. Adults are the ones rushing them and urging them to get to the next moment or next destination. For example, a parent taking their child to a birthday party will say, ‘We don’t have time, get into the car. We don’t have much time, so we must reach soon.’ Once they are at the party, the parent says, ‘Eat the cake quickly and take the balloons if you want to. We don’t have time and we have to leave now to avoid the terrible traffic.’ And before we know it, the child has turned out just like them. Adults unknowingly train children to believe that happiness is a moving target and life is all about reaching the next destination. Hence, it’s ironic and amusing to see adults trying to achieve mindfulness, a quality that we once possessed in abundance as kids and were forced to let go of. Sadly, this terrible cycle continues with our own children. So, as parents, it is vital that we learn how to be mindful all over again so that we can allow our children to grow into mindful individuals.
How can I be mindful when a child irritates me?
Sometimes, when our children take too long to get ready and we have chores to finish, or when they are rude and angry, we immediately want to clarify who’s boss and fire back promptly. But do remember, our anger can never defuse a child’s anger, only calmness can. We are all sensitive to vibrations, and children are brilliant at sensing ours. On an external level, when children see us acting stressed, angry and restless, they internalize this behaviour and present it back to us in their times of distress. Let us remind ourselves that asking someone to hurry up too many times only triggers and escalates stress and anger. Hence, children reflect this behaviour. It is just like a boss hovering around us, waiting for us to finish a task. ‘Hurry up, I said. Hurry up, will you? Are you listening to me? Goodness, how slow are you?’ I wonder how well we would do a task under such circumstances. Just like an irate and hyper individual comes across as weak, so too does an irate and hyper parent. Stress and anger are a chain reaction, just like peace, patience and mindfulness. An angry parent asking a child to be calm will not work for long. A parent who rarely gives focused attention to a child cannot expect the child to communicate effectively with them in the future. Hence, can you be mindful of your emotions the next time your child upsets you? It is in your control to stop the vicious cycle of helplessness and start the cycle of mindfulness. Just be still, sip some water and breathe. Reframe your thinking, focus on something that brings you joy. Now observe the same child; you will notice a shift in their behaviour too. When we are at ease and show confidence, our children take us far more seriously and naturally reflect that. This book is about training you to take the onus on yourself in every situation. This book is about you accepting the reality that parenting is all about bringing up the parent and not the child. Once you master this art, you will magically navigate every situation. This is science. This is the magic of mindfulness!
Get your copy of Building a Happy Family here 🙂