When things get hard, your child or teen really needs your presence more than anything else. That means they actually need our presence even if and when they're being rude or loud or whiny. It's not easy to stay with them when they're doing what all of our training tells us is the wrong thing. But we CAN stay near them and love them while staying clear.
When things go really wrong and your child loses it, being present does not look like saying,
These are things we've probably all said, right? They all push a child away when they are at their most vulnerable (Of course, it would be good for them to be vulnerable in pleasant and soft ways, and that will happen as they feel safer, closer, and sure that your presence is unconditional.). Instead, I'm recommending that we take an unconditionally present and loving approach to our kids even when they're difficult.
Being present may look like,
* But what about if they're hurting me or their sibling or themselves? Tomorrow I'll write more about how to respond lovingly when you have to take a more active role.
We learn love experientially, not intellectually. How we were loved as babies and children sets up a pattern of what love means. This pattern is rooted deep in our bodies even when we realize that our parents were imperfect and sometimes misguided. The relationship patterns are strong, pervasive, and mostly unconscious.
Most of us learned consciously or unconsciously that we had to fit into family expectation to be accepted. We learned that we would be pushed away or punished when we were too loud or quiet, too messy or uptight, too emotional or cerebral, too rude or goody-goody, too needy or independent, too inappropriate.
Those learnings are like muscle memory in us, they operate reflexively. As adults, they are probably still stopping us in some ways, maybe stopping us from speaking our truth, expressing our true nature, crying, or asking for help. These learnings also operate in our parenting. Without intending to, we pass these same teachings on to our own children. We may be uncomfortable with how they express emotions and send them to their rooms until they can speak appropriately. We may repress the parts of them that make us uncomfortable and embrace the parts that feel good to us, teaching them that the way to our hearts is to behave 'well.'
As we become more conscious parents, we begin to notice the ways that our kids 'push our buttons' and get curious. We explore what's happening in us and how we tend to react, discovering behavioral patterns that are conditional rather than unconditional. With awareness and practice, we can take care of and release our old feelings and patterns, learning how to open our hearts more fully. This helps us to love and accept our children, even when they challenge our beliefs and habits.
I am blessed in many of these ways, are you? Our kids don't need us to be perfect, they just need us to learn from our experience as parents!
I've been writing about loving ourselves through challenging times, today let's turn to our families. Honestly, there are times that husbands and wives, children, teens, parents, siblings just don't seem very lovable. Then what?
It's the same as with ourselves. It's when people are the least lovable that they need love the most. So we slow down and remember that they are our practice. These kids who are complaining about dinner again, these teens who aren't telling us when they'll be home, these partners who have forgotten to treat us tenderly when we need it. We take care of ourselves, of course, and we connect with our love for them.
Is there someone on your last nerve? Let's do an experiment.
Think of them now and feel how that is in your body. Does anything happen? Maybe muscles constrict, breathing changes, you feel warm or cool somewhere, there's an empty feeling. . . Just sense what happens.
And now, can you remember this same person in a wonderful moment? The moment you first held your child? A time your teen was enthusiastically telling you about something they learned? Kissing your partner? Think of a specific wonderful moment. Stay with it for a few minutes, breathing and remembering, imagining their face radiating happiness. And now notice how you feel in your body. Anything change?
We can remember love even during hard times just by taking the time to do it. Connecting with love is powerful because it reminds us of our true selves and reminds us of their true self. We don't do it to forget the hard times or pretend they aren't happening, but to sustain ourselves through them! So today, connect with your love for someone who has been bugging you. More tomorrow on how to work with that.
When I wrote 'Your Superpower is Love' I was remembering those times that things go badly wrong and I try to suppress my feelings. I try to be calm by pretending that I am calm. That kind of calm is artificial; it doesn't inspire connection or share love or help at all, because it isn't real.
I wrote about feeling the feelings that come up instead, breathing into them, allowing them to be there, and not acting on them yet. As is often the case, I got a chance to practice what I wrote about the same day. Really upset by something that happened at home, I could feel this sort of frozen self take over. I spent a lot of time breathing into it, allowing it, softening into the feelings under it, and being patient with myself. I'm still working on it, slowly.
Soon I'm going to write more about how love toward our kids is our real parenting superpower, but today I'm adding a bit about this practice of loving and nurturing ourselves. It isn't always quick or easy. The pain, fear, anger, or numbness in us has deep roots. You may turn toward yourself, breathing into your feelings and experience relief--a good cry, a softening, comfort. Or you may turn toward yourself with love and feel very little, like I did yesterday. The feelings may seem kind of stuck. The numbness or anger or fear may not budge. That's okay. Stay with it.
We aren't turning toward ourselves with love to make the feelings go away. We are doing it to feel them. When we do deeper work, tapping into the old emotions and conditioning that have been with us for a long, long time and are hard to even sense let alone release, it can take a while. Don't hurry. The only thing to do is feel what you feel (even if it's still anger or numbness) with awareness.
I've been writing all week about 'when things go wrong' because that's when we usually need help. When things go wrong in my family (hard as it is to admit this), I often forget all of my mindful practices. I get upset, angry, worried, hurt, judgmental, withdrawn. But what has changed over the years is that I don't always react out of those feelings. Mindfulness has helped me build the capacity to slow down, take care of my feelings, and use some of the practices that I've been writing about (respond in two parts, WAIT, keep going).
The most important thing to remember when things are hard, though, is to connect with love. Love is a practical, game changing superpower in parenting and other parts of life. I've learned that I can reach for that superpower to comfort myself during hard times, to connect with and support others, and to see my children and other people with love rather than fear or judgment when I consider how to respond to them.
The best starting point, even though we may want to start with an outer response to an outer situation, is inward. When things go wrong, slow down and look inside, even it has to be brief. Notice how you feel. Breathe. Try the very accessible breathing practice that I've shared before, 'Breathing in, I am aware that I feel _________. Breathing out, I allow this feeling to be here.' You don't need to act on the feeling, just accept it.
When we connect with our loving energy and turn it inward, we are infinitely more able to respond outwardly to an angry child, a worried friend, a sick parent, a catastrophic natural event, the news, etc.
I finished a book last night (Elizabeth Berg's Open House) that felt depressing and drab at the start. It was hard to read about unhappy characters (especially a child) in difficult circumstances. As I started to put it aside to return to the library, there was a little curiosity in me, wondering where the story may go. I kept reading and am glad I did because it was a great book.
After finishing it, I sat thinking about how much this experience is like life. There are times that I can only see the heaviness. The news this morning, a conflict with my son, my friend going through really hard circumstances, these things make me want to 'put the book down' by somehow stepping away or changing the story. But sometimes, I just need to stay with it.
Hard things have the opportunity for change within them. But we can only get to the change if we stay with the hard things.
When something looks bleak, your child gets the 'worst' teacher this year, your mother needs to go in for a biopsy, you get a crazy cell phone bill and realize your teenagers have been making foolish choices, your child is angry with you about a limit you set and won't talk to you, be a little curious. Can I stay with it, curious and open? Are there seeds of change and transformation somewhere in this situation? Not just the external change I might want, but deeper transformation for me or someone else. Can I be present, leaving space for transformation to happen and being as true as possible to myself?
f one of my boys does something upsetting, I sometimes overreact. I say too much, too quickly, and expect too much of a just-right response from them. In my wiser moments, along with using the two-pronged approach that I wrote about yesterday, I remember one of the few parenting acronyms that I use--'WAIT' and ask myself, 'Why Am I Talking?'
Such a simple question, right? But also a good one. There are lots of reasons that we talk as parents, and many of them have nothing to do with true communication.
WAIT brings us back to a sense of purpose. What is my purpose here? If I realize that I'm talking to let my son know what I'm upset, I can probably serve my purpose best by saying one or two clear things rather than twenty minutes of scolding.
If I'm talking because I'm caught up in my emotions, I would be more effective if I took care of myself for a while.
If I'm talking because I want to teach my son something important, I need to remember that teaching happens when someone is receptive. Being short and sweet is more likely to work than being long-winded and cranky!
What do you think of WAIT? Let me know how it goes if you try it.
There is a steady stream of stories about irresponsible, entitled, spoiled children and young adults in the news and schools. How can we keep our kids from falling into those habits? When kids do stupid or unkind things, I like to respond with a two-pronged approach.
The first prong is to 'get' and address what's going on. When a child has suddenly started being aggressive, we can wonder, reflect, and talk with trusted friends about what's going on until we understand the child's perspective. Is there a new sibling? Is she having a hard time at school? Has something changed in family routines? What is up in her world?
When a teen has suddenly gotten belligerent and won't talk about it, we can try to read their body language, pay attention to what they're doing and not doing, and be curious about why. Is he under some unusual stress? Are relationships stable? Could he be worried about something related to school or other performance?
This part of our approach is all about curiosity and compassion. By understanding the child, we may be able to offer support that gets at the root of the problem rather than fighting the symptoms. It's wise to start here because when children feel connected and loved, they are generally pretty easy to get along with. When they're difficult, they are probably under some sort of pressure or in pain.
The second prong is to hold reasonable limits. When a child has suddenly gotten aggressive, we intervene rather than make excuses or plead with her to behave differently. We hold her firmly but lovingly when she tries to kick or hit. We step between her and another child before she can hurt them. We move her out of an aggressive situation quickly and supportively.
When a teen gets unusually belligerent, we stay steady and clear. If he is angry because we said 'no' to using the car, we can respond with caring but not capitulation. Let's not change reasonable limits even if our son is angry (although we may want to strengthen the connection in other ways). If he has slipped into a pattern of speaking to us unkindly, we can respond honestly, sharing very simply how we feel. "That hurts, I love you and that means it hurts when you say harsh things to me." This honest talk is likely to affect teens much more than a lecture would.
The wisest parental response offers compassion and empathy for the child and gives clear and supportive limits.
This is one of the hardest things for me as a parent.
Yes, we need to have goals, expectations, aspirations for ourselves and our children. We expect ourselves to be compassionate and clear, we expect them to be polite and reasonable. And we need to know that these goals, expectations, and aspirations won't necessarily be reached. I'll be cranky and self-absorbed sometimes. They will be rude.
My intent to be compassionate is a guide that leads me through the cracks even though I am sometimes less-than-compassionate. My goal to have a strong connection with my child guides me, even, especially when our actual connection feels a bit weak. And my goal to raise loving and strong children guides me, even in those (inevitable) moments when they are not acting loving or strong.
I've been writing about the 'cracks,' those poignant, emotionally-charged times that come up in our lives that are so important. Today, I'm taking a moment to rest, recover, and recharge by spending time enjoying the beauty.
There are, even in the midst of hard days and weeks and years, wonderful things happening. And it's so important to notice them!
Right now, just by being aware of those wonderful things, I nurture myself.
As I sit this morning, I notice that:
The windows are open, and it's not hot at all, just beautiful.
That just-ripe peach that I had for breakfast was delicious.
I love the cicadas and katydids going wild outside my window. They sound just like late summer.
There's a small and vibrant sunflower in front of me, the first one that bloomed in my garden.
I have the time to just sit here, no pressure or hurry this morning.
My breath, as I pay attention to how it feels, is spacious, unhurried, and lovely.
I am here, enjoying this moment.
How about you? What are you enjoying right now?
These 'cracks' that I've been writing about all week--the grief of losing the family unit I've grown so used to, the grief of a child who loses her perfect taco shell, the feeling of loss at the end of summer, or bigger griefs that come with serious illness and death--these are all kind of like what my mom used to call 'growing pains.'
These are the pains that come because we change, because life changes, because the people we love change, because life is impermanent. We have to open to these pains and feel them rather than run from them.
The logic of reminding me that my son will be home for Thanksgiving or telling a child that her taco was going to break as soon as she bit it doesn't help. The logic is true, but it can not heal the heart. Our heads know that we haven't lost our kids when they grow up, but we still mourn the child-that-was. A 4-year-old understands that taco shells break, but she still needs to grieve the taco-shell-that-was.
Growing pains must be felt. Even when a child's pain seems silly, it's worth sitting and listening to. We have to allow grief its full expression or it never heals.
If there are big emotions coming up at your house this week (and I kind of think there must be, because life is a little crazy for most of us right now), slow down and feel them. Listen deeply with no attempt to fix. Let the growing pains of your heart do the work of opening you more fully. And be gentle with yourself as you navigate the changes afoot in your life, as I hope to be gentle with myself today.
The feelings that I wrote about in yesterday's post, the grief of letting go of things we've loved and the space it takes to let new things grow, aren't at all unique to a mom sending her oldest son to college. Children experience the same type of feelings again and again, often over things that seem small and even irrational to us.
My kids used to get really upset about broken things when they small. Broken taco shells, broken crackers, sandwiches cut when they shouldn't have been. Kids can get this 'broken feeling' at the end of a day, too, as they have to let go of the day they've had and the immediacy of their connection with us to open to the great unknown of sleep. They may have a 'broken feeling' when leaving a friend's house or playground, turning off the ipad or tv, or or giving away an old toy. They may have it at the end of summer and the end of a vacation.
While we learn to feel our own grief and the emptiness of leaving space for the new, we can connect it with the feelings our children have.
When your child has an irrational meltdown, maybe wonder--are they grieving something they feel they have lost? Are they experiencing that emptiness that comes with the possibility of something new? When they cry or rage or overreact, can you gently, gently help them to recognize their feelings?
Yesterday I wrote about fixing the cracks in ourselves, especially those that emerge when 'mistakes are made.' But some cracks can't (and really shouldn't) be fixed. Every single thing eventually cracks and falls away, making room for something new to grow.
Families outgrow what we have been--kids grow outgrow old interests, families get bigger and smaller, we leave an old house or town or school. I'm feeling that in my family as my firstborn leaves the nest. The circle of our family is broken. The cracks are not going to heal or repair the same family unit. We are changing. As a family, we have two important tasks (and perhaps you can relate to this in your own way?).
First, we need to grieve the old family circle, allowing ourselves to mourn, to feel the disappointment and loss and discomfort and whatever else comes up. This frankly sucks. We are trying to talk to each other and be supportive, but it's hard. It's tempting for me to skip over it, getting busy with something new that will distract me. But I know that won't help. Grief is important and just has to be felt, no matter what kind of loss inspires it.
Our second task is to open to the new circle that is forming. The old is gone, the new is not fully understood, and we just need to open to what is beginning. This is most visible for the one who moved away and is starting a new life. But even back here at home, we're starting new as we learn to connect with each other in new ways, to stay connected with our fledgling in a new way, and to adapt to this smaller and larger family sphere.
This has always been happening, since I became pregnant. It will always be happening, as our youngest moves away, when they return home with good friends and partners who temporarily and permanently join the family circle, when they one day maybe have kids who join the family circle, and when we older ones leave the family circle and it dissolves into the next version.
For now, our task is to grieve and feel and love each other. The new circle is already forming, slowly and organically.
When we have the rough times in relationships that I wrote about yesterday (in 'Mistakes Will Be Made'), it's good to know how to repair the cracks.
But it isn't usually wise to immediately try to repair the relationship. Slow down and look at yourself. Explore what's going on for you. How are you feeling? Where are you broken or dried out? Where did the emotions come from? Are you tired? Are you feeling cared for?
Most of us want to skip over this step and tend to rush to outer 'fixes,' but I encourage you (and me) to slow down! Take the time to find the cracks within yourself and contemplate how to heal or fix them. What do you really need to heal or repair?
Once you care for yourself, it will be easier to repair cracks in the relationship because you'll be able to approach that work in a deeper, more sustainable way. 'Fixing' the relationship without understanding why we are angry or frustrated or reactive will only create a temporary patch, leaving us prone to fall into the same reactivity next time things are difficult.
image by timlewisnm
Being a mom doesn't mean being superhuman. It's just being human. And when you're human, as I so often tell students and clients who are learning a new approach to parenting, 'mistakes will be made.' I think I tell other parents this so often because I need to hear it.
Parenting is a challenging path, and we will all have rough and confusing times. Late summer can be a hard time of letting go of summer and entering into the unknown of a new school year and possibly a new school, situation, friendships, teacher. Having a new baby or a newly school-aged child or a tween or teen or young adult can be hard, too. It's hard when a child is sick or struggling with anything we can't fix.
When you go through hard times and fall into less-than-idea parenting habits, remember to join me in making peace with yourself. We're all going to mess up, whether it's because our kids' temper catches us at a rough moment, because work is unsettling, because someone we love is struggling, because the hot weather is taking a toll. . . When we mess up, let's stop and treat ourselves with gentle kindness. When we see our friends and enemies and teachers and other people mess up, let's try to do the same thing, be kind and generous.
It's hot. Lots of hot days and hot nights are a strain on our families! So today, I'm sharing a practice that helps us to handle our emotions.
If you can, start by taking a moment to get comfortable, sitting upright and relaxed and aware of the sensation of sitting. Let yourself get still, starting with noticing your feet and letting them be still and relaxed, then your legs, hips, belly, chest, arms and hands, shoulders, neck and throat, and your face with special attention to your jaw, eyes, and brow.
Notice your breathing. "Breathing in, I feel my inbreath, breathing out, I feel my outbreath." Breathe into your emotion, "Breathing in, I notice my frustration, breathing out, I let this feeling be here." Just keep breathing into the feeling making space for it. If you feel yourself getting caught in a story about why you're irritated, come back to just feeling the emotion and how it is in your body.
Sometimes the feeling will shift and change, just notice and follow it. It can get more intense, turn into another emotion, fade. No problem, just breathe. After a bit, check in with yourself and see if you're ready to go back to regular life. If not, breathe some more.
"The world is ruled by letting things take their course."
That's what I read this morning when I turned over the new page of my zen calendar. I am sitting with it deeply today, absorbing the wisdom.
This practice of loving each moment as it is has become part of my life. I wake up--it's hot and muggy. I sweat even though it's 7 am. I am uncomfortable. And then--it's like when the clouds part and the sun shines through--I remember, this is a beautiful moment. And it is.
The day goes on, and I'm walking through a store. I'm on complete autopilot. Suddenly I remember--this is a beautiful moment. And I can feel myself start to smile.
I eat lunch--a fresh tomato right out of my garden, basil from the garden, fresh mozzarella, all on lovely bread. Of course this is a beautiful moment, but I notice that I'm rushing past it, checking email as I eat. I slow down and taste my sandwich. Yep, this is a beautiful moment.
Later, I have a rough conversation with one of my kids. He is cranky. He snaps at me even though I'm being reasonable (really, I am this time!). Because I've been using the 'this is a beautiful moment' muscle all day, it's pretty easy to remember. This, too, is a beautiful moment.
Each time that I remember, the part of me that knows it's a beautiful moment gets stronger. I don't have to wait for something special, for a day at the beach or a fancy dinner out or a special celebration. It gets easy to recognize the special in small moments.
So, if things aren't going so well at home for you, I want to recommend this practice. Stop right now and breathe. Can you feel it, that this is a beautiful moment? It may be hard, too. You may be hot, hungry, or tired. There may be big worries in your life--a health crisis, a relationship crisis, a hard choice to be made. I'm not saying ignore that stuff, I'm saying just fully show up for it exactly as it is. Breathe and feel it. Open to it. Don't hold back. Be exactly here right now. I hope you can feel the beauty.
Just as I'm practicing loving this moment with my oldest son, I'm practicing loving all of the moments that happen in my life.
I've been learning that I don't have to be comfortable to love the moment. I definitely don't have to be 'right' or 'smart' or appreciated. The only thing I have to be is present with things as they are.
After a retreat with my beloved teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, on the heels of an intense summer of travel, hospitals, family illness, conflict reconciliation, and retreats, I had a powerful experience of loving the moment. I was walking my sweet, old dog just before I went to bed. I was tired and impatient, wishing she would hurry up and poop. And then I remembered, inspired by the teachings that were filling me, "This is a wonderful moment." As soon as I thought it, I recognized that it was true. The moment that had been annoying, that I was impatient to finish with, was actually perfect. The cicadas (it was August), the stars, the quiet, the slow walking behind my dog as she sniffed and wandered. I fell in love with that moment. It was a beautiful moment, in spite of the complete lack of glamor in waiting for an old dog to poop.
That transformation is always available to me. Sometimes I can sit in an unpleasant moment--talking to one of my kids when they are very angry with me, feeling scared about something out of my control, cleaning the toilet--and feel the same shift into love.
Right now, can you feel it? The beauty of this moment for you, exactly as it is? I can. There's a kind of quiet, although I hear someone rattling around upstairs. It's hot enough that I'm sweating even though it's early morning. The cicadas are LOUD. I'm breathing. It's an imperfect moment and a beautiful one.
Right now, this moment feels hard. I'm about to take my oldest to college. He's ready and happy to be going. I know this year will be wonderful and hard for him, full of opportunities that are sometimes exciting and sometimes overwhelming. I feel sure that he's ready and accept that it's time.
But it's hard. I really like him. I'm not really done connecting with him. I greedily want to be part of this next stage, watching him grow and change. I want to share it with him, to love him close up rather than from a distance. I don't want to be left behind.
I know in my heart and my head that this is a good and right transition. I know the rightness of opening to this leaving-the-nest moment with grace. I celebrate his readiness. I can adore him, look forward to the glimpses I'll get on the phone and when he comes home, be ready to help when he needs me, and remember that he is a good man.
At the same time I'm letting the feelings happen, crying when sadness wells up in me. Feeling the grief of letting go of the baby that was, the little boy that was, the kid that was, the young man that was. Knowing that none of that is really lost, that it is still alive in him and certainly alive in my heart and memory even as my life is forever changed by this transition.
So I open to and accept. I cry and worry and plan. And I come back again and again to loving this moment, just as it is. I remember how inexpressibly lucky I am to have this moment. I rest in the gratitude of a grateful and aching heart.
Love is always possible. Even love towards ourselves.
You (like me) are probably sometimes hard on yourself. Maybe you worry about less-than-stellar choices you've made. Maybe you blame yourself for disappointing your kids. We each have had different experiences and carry different baggage, but we all carry some baggage.
We know it's good to love ourselves, right? But that will be easier to do when we're better, maybe when we finally start working out. Or when we have a clean house. Or when we have some money saved. Or have been kind to our kids for an entire day with no big screw ups.
But loving ourselves isn't the last step that comes when we've sorted everything else out. It doesn't come when we're good enough. It's the first step, the one that supports the kindness and love we want to share with other people.
Imagine this, imagine living today with the idea that you deserve to be loved like you are right now, in all of your imperfection. How would that feel? Let's do it. 'I love myself, right now, just exactly as I am.' Try saying it, or maybe writing it. Let's say it to ourselves every hour today, and actually mean it as much as possible. And let's see how that goes.
Theoretically, there is no situation in which I can't be loving. It is possible to be loving while saying 'no' to an angry kid. It is possible to be loving while reminding someone of a chore they've forgotten to do. It's possible to be loving while I'm scared or upset.
In practice, I'm not doing everything in a loving way. I am working on it, and am so happy to be more loving every day.
One of the biggest ways that I'm working toward being more loving is by recognizing my own feelings. I tend to get mad and reactive when there are hard things happening in my heart, or my body, or my head. At those times, love doesn't flow through me easily. I have to stop and take care of my own feelings so that I'm clear enough to be gentle, to listen, and to be compassionate with other people.
When I realize that I'm cranky, I try to stop everything, especially talking. I breathe, feeling my lungs fill and empty, feeling my chest rise and fall. If I can, I just keep doing that for a while even though my 'habit energy' wants to rush off to check email or eat a cookie or argue. I notice my body, paying attention to how the upset is showing up in my body. Then I breathe some more, especially breathing into those places. Sometimes I put hands on my belly and heart and just hold gentle pressure while talking to my feelings like they're a baby (with deep gratitude to Thich Nhat Hanh who teaches this practice).
These practices really help me. If you have trouble being loving, try them. Please, let me know how it goes!
I've been writing about patience this week, about how it helps our children when we respond slowly rather than react quickly, about the benefit of slowing down to really listen. This is easier for some of us than others! Especially for those of us who weren't raised by patient parents, patience can be hard to find.
So are we doomed to stay in the habits and patterns we grew up into? Absolutely not! My mindfulness practice has expanded my patience enormously. It's given me skills that help me to notice the impatience and work with it rather than acting it out. It's allowed me to recognize my habits and create some space around them.
If you would like to expand your patience, try mindfulness!
A simple way to start is with an awareness practice. Just sit right now, where you are, and bring your awareness fully into the present moment. It helps to pay attention to something, so feel your body. Notice the weight of your body sitting, the pressure between you and whatever holds you up. Just feel that for a minute. . . . .Can you stay with it? Now notice your breath. As you got still and noticed your body, you may have naturally noticed your breath, stillness can do that. If not, notice it now. Feel your body, sitting and still, and now also feel how your body moves when you breathe. Your chest, your abdomen, your belly. Even the way air moves through your nose and throat. Stay with it for a few minutes.
What happens? Do you stay with it completely? Or does your mind start to wander off to an itch in your body, the dishes, kids, bills, an irritating conversation you had yesterday. . . If it wanders, your only job is to notice that. 'Whoops, I'm somewhere else.' And come back to sitting, feeling your body. And return to this breath.
Stick with this practice for about 15 minutes if you can. Don't worry if it's hard and frustrating, if your mind wanders and gets restless, if your body wants to move. Just do it. This is exactly the practice that will help you to develop patience.
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.