Finding grounding amidst chaos
With the Covid storm still raging on around us, I want to invite you to take a moment to pause and check in with yourself. Where are you at mentally, emotionally and physically. Do you feel the places in your body where you are holding tension? What bubbles up when you focus on breathing into the tension to bring softness? Go on…pause before you continue to read and make time for yourself.
Periodically stepping out of clock time to do a mindful check in creates an opportunity to ground ourselves and give our nervous system a quick reset. When we never do this, we start to spiral, our stress builds, our thinking and behaviour become more erratic, and it leads to burn out. You might be trying to do so many things, that you don’t do any of those particularly well…which feeds into feelings of incompetence. You might feel unable to take some time and space to assess what is working and what is not – as you are so busy trying any - and everything you can think of.
This is an unproductive, and more importantly, an ‘unsafe’ mode of functioning.
Your body will be giving you signals to pause, say no and take a break and you ignoring those signals, teaches your body that you can’t be trusted to keep it safe. The world is therefore an unsafe place. It is like a child living with an abusive parent – the overriding feeling is that of feeling unheard, unseen and unsafe. Nobody does well in a state of overwhelm. We don’t learn when we feel unsafe.
Getting grounded and checking in with the sensations in your body is an important exercise in developing what is informally known as ‘body trust’. Listening and responding to the signals in our bodies is an important exercise for us as parents, and also for us to teach, model and respond to, in our kids.
Develop a ritualised mindfulness practice to incorporate into your day to day life. It should take no longer than 15 – 20 seconds so time isn’t really a barrier to regular practice.
For example – before you go into your child’s room in the morning, you take three deep slow breaths and check in with your body, OR every time you sit down to eat, or every time you brush your teeth, or every time before you walk into your home…you do that check in.
More examples of what a check in may look like would be
In RDI, we strive for our kids to reach and be successful in moments of ‘productive uncertainty’. Moments in which they are regulated when facing uncertainty or challenge and they enter a mode of problem-solving, inferring, and flexible thinking. Being in this state builds resilience. On the opposite end we find something called ‘unproductive uncertainty’. This is essentially a place of chaos.
Establish a ritualistic practice with your kids: every morning when you first see each other, take a moment to truly see, smell, and touch their body. Hold them in your arms for 3 seconds longer and breathe deeply as you do so.
Take comfort in the notion that everything feels less important with a little time or distance.
Imagine that you are looking back at your life from a ripe old age, or looking down at your life from a million miles away.
What would matter most from this perspective?
What would seem small and inconsequential from this perspective?