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Quick Tips

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   Quick Tips
Present moments can come very naturally if our minds are focused on the needs and growth of the people around us. But personal stress and anxiety and past baggage constantly get in our way.

The expectation of being fully present 100% of the time is unrealistic, but with moment to moment practice, the brain can improve (neurons can grow and become more automated) and thus be more prepared to recognize and handle future conflicts.

A primary idea behind Present Parenting is that (contrary to popular belief) spending time WITH children and truly focusing ON children can clear a cluttered mind and even heal a heavy heart (because it gives the prefrontal cortex a nice workout).

These tips are simple activities that can give your prefrontal cortex some exercise:

1. Notice and even record present moments you are currently having with your child...moments when you feel a strong connection to him or her.

2. Focus on your child spontaneously. Plan for at least 30 minutes each day per child of spontaneous listening and interacting. Stop and look your child in the eyes and engage your mind when your child approaches you for attention. If your mind gets distracted, observe what it’s thinking and tell yourself you’ll think about that later. Focus on your child’s energy and match his or her line of thinking. The 30 minutes don’t have to be consecutive.

3. Plan a few present moments each day...moments when you and your child will likely connect in conversation or activity. Plan the activity (here are a few examples), but don’t set expectations about the outcome. Let the outcome be a discovery. Keep your mind focused on the moment in a non-judgmental and curious way.

4. Pick a least one thing on the Focus on Yourself list (below) to do each day. Notice how it strengthens you when your intentions are to rejuvenate for the purpose of serving your children again. CAUTION: If you use a "Focus on Yourself" activity to escape with the intent of self-indulgence, you'll notice that you may feel more drained when returning to be among your children. That's because the prefrontal cortex area of your brain that works to re-balance your body was probably not properly engaged during your activity. 

5. When moments feel stressful, remember to thank your body for letting you know it has some unresolved issues, or negative energy to work through. Being aware is the first step towards progress.

6. Pause from speaking and thinking and use your 5 senses more. Observe what information each of your senses are taking in at any given moment.  

Focus on Your Child
Spending time with children can be a form of meditation and have a magical affect on our hearts and minds. The Receiving Peace link under the Present Moments tab is dedicated space for recording special moments when focusing on our children has brought us great peace and wisdom. 

And here’s a list of some of our quick, practical ideas that seem to refocus cluttered thoughts, reduce overall stress levels, and promote present moments at our house:
  • Listen to Music (we love classical music, sacred music, and the Sandra Boynton CDs)
  • Read a book together
  • Eat a snack together
  • Play with playdough
  • Play Elephant (the goal of this game is a nap...who can keep their eyes shut longest)
  • Do yoga (I love observing how my young children try to mimic me)
  • Exercise (sometimes the kids mimic me and sometimes they become my weights to lift)
  • Go for a walk (pay closer attention to nature and notice what your five senses are telling you)
  • Rock with a child (or two or three) on your lap (this is used as our typical time-in solution when we're feeling overwhelmed)
Focus on Yourself
A few solitary activities that can bring emotional relief and strengthen prefrontal cortex capacity include:
  • Sleep
  • Cleaning
  • Exercise
  • Focused Breathing
  • Take a Shower
  • Observe Nature
  • Observe Your Children (watch how they use their senses)
  • Study
  • Being Grateful
  • Ponder / Meditate
  • Pray