With divorce and separation common in our society it can be easy to take it for granted and fail to recognise the stress it provides for children caught in the middle.
The impact this event has on the children involved depends on many factors. These factors can include, the age of the children, how the adults speak to each other, what the adults tell the children, whether the parental split results in a less stressed home environment, the shared care arrangements, and the personality and temperament of the children. There are so many things going on at this time and often children are left to cope in their own emotional turmoil whilst the adults are battling it out.
...imagine how your child may be feeling. ... They don’t know what is going to change, what will stay the same. Where is Christmas going to be? Who is going to come to the school concert? Can they go to a birthday party that is on when it is the other parent’s turn to have them?
When you read or hear the word mindfulness what reaction do you have?
Many people who come and see me state that mindfulness doesn’t work for them, they don’t want to do that ‘mindfulness stuff’, or that they’re sick of being told to breath. Their reaction is quite strong.
Practicing mindfulness underpins most of the work I do in therapy, and how I try and live my life, yet when I hear or read the word ‘mindfulness’ my reaction is not always positive.
I think it is because it has become such a populist word and tends to be tossed around like fairy floss, that the word itself is becoming diluted.
There is a part of my brain that still wants to automatically associate ‘mindfulness’ with a tall, young, skinny female with long hair sitting cross legged on a cushion. I don’t judge people who can do this – part of me would love to be that person, that person who seems to have their act together and exudes calm.
However, my mindfulness is not neat, and I am not that person. The process of practicing non-judgement of self and others, of focusing on my breath, of noticing my thoughts, feelings and actions; of seeing things for how they are, of deliberately focusing on the beauty and wonder around me, of practicing gratitude, and of taking committed action; these processes can be tough and demanding. Particularly when my brain is resistant and wants to hold on to incorrect beliefs, past failures and echoes of bullying. When my stress response is triggered and wants to run and hide, not sit on a cushion….
So why do it?
It tends to bring me peace, increase my feelings of happiness and allow me to respond to situations and people rather than react. It increases my feelings of gratitude and makes me feel calm.
So pay attention to your reaction to the word ‘mindfulness’. There is no right or wrong reaction. And by paying attention to your reaction you are practicing mindfulness (and isn’t that interesting).
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy..
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.