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Let’s Talk Parenting: Deep Breaths

By Salma Kabir

Our outer world is a reflection of our inner state of being. Let’s be real, as the end of the year approaches, we are all trying to accomplish certain goals, meet deadlines, fulfill our list of obligations on top of being a parent and maybe also dealing with sick children. You may be waiting for it all to pass so that you can finally take a moment to relax. But the thing is, if we wait for that moment to come, it never does. When this set of deadlines pass, there will be a new set of deadlines and obligations. It is a never ending game. Call it the monkey brain or the hamster wheel, it is our continuous thoughts that create our reality. When our thoughts are running wild, everything outside of us looks and feels wild. Joy is in how we think and peace comes when we are able to go beyond thought. Running thoughts has us in survival mode. When we are in this state, we are more anxious and reactive internally and externally. When we stay in survival mode too long, our brains go into a state of chronic exhaustion and our bodies follow.

So, how do we break this cycle? Well, like Sydney J. Harris said, “the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it. “Let’s try it together. Put your hand on your belly and take a deep breath in and hold (1,2,3,4,5), then exhale (1,2,3,4,5,6,7). One more time. Take another deep breath in and hold (1,2,3,4,5), and release (1,2,3,4,5,6,7). Imagine your exhale moving from your head to your feet. You may wiggle your toes for fun! Notice that the exhale is longer than the inhale. At first you may have less air to exhale because when we are anxious, our exhales get shorter and we tend to hold our breath. This is a great practice you and your family can use to check-in and see where you are during the holidays.

Congratulations! You have just grounded yourself, interrupted the hamster wheel in your brain, and helped your body relax, even if it’s just for a moment. It is these little acts of kindness and self-love that create a ripple effect of love to grow within and around us. When you relax, your children will relax, and so will everything else around you. Every time the hamster wheel starts to spin non-stop or your monkey brain is driving you crazy, remember to stop and take some deep breaths. Check-in as often as you need to. Some days you will need to use this practice more than others. It will help lower your anxiety, lead to better focus, and less reactivity, to name a few. You are a powerful Being. Don’t give your power away to external sources. Come back to yourself as many times as you need to and take a moment to breathe and just Be. After all, we call ourselves human beings, not human doings! You and your loved ones need your presence more than anything else. At the end of the day what matters most are the little acts of kindness we show ourselves and one another. Thank you for reading and we hope you had a holiday season full of love, joy, and peace.