This past Saturday Chris and I attended an all day Conscious Parenting Seminar. We had heard about it through our life coach and between the two of us we were familiar with both of the keynote speakers. I had read Dr. Shefali’s, ” The Conscious Parent” book and Chris has been involved with Jim Dethmer’s Conscious Leadership Group for the last year or two. The day flew by. It was both transformational and loving. In a parenting seminar, you might expect to talk about your children’s issues and how to discipline them. Although we did touch on discipline, the day was more about us as parents. The goal of a conscious parent, or a conscious human being for that matter, is to be fully present, to learn to separate our emotions from the event, and to be mindful instead of being reactive. The day, of course, came at a perfect time. The night before Chris and I were discussing feeling disconnected. Also, the morning of, Brooks was being particularly whiney. I was feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and although I can’t speak for Chris, he was quite obviously irritated. We came home that day with a totally different mindset.
Dr. Shefali gives a very direct, funny, yet kind point of view that I found quite refreshing. She had us laughing out load several times. She talks about how having kids is the ultimate ego booster. We come into this stage of our lives with all kinds of false delusions. We have thoughts of how our children will look, act, and be. We think that they should be thanking us for the life that they were born into and all the kind things that we do. When they inevitably act out of what we would consider ideal, we get triggered, and reactive. Often times the issue isn’t what the child is or isn’t doing. Instead why did this behavior trigger us in the first place? What does this mean in my life? If we can learn to get curious about our feelings we can allow our children to be the mirrors and teachers that they are meant to be.
I found Jim Dethmer to be calm, kind, and informative. His overall message is very similar to Dr. Shefali’s but his approach, description, and personality are quite different.
So what does it mean to practice conscious parenting? In my (unenlightened) opinion, it means really slowing down. It means that when I’m spending time with my kids to really be there, mentally as much as physically. It means setting my agenda aside and learning how to just be. It also means learning to check in with myself. It means disciplining when necessary but not from an angry, reactive state. It means learning to let go a little, to be silly and make things fun.
I can imagine my family reading this thinking that I’m going to stop discipling my children and let all hell break loose. This isn’t what conscious parenting is about. It’s about setting boundaries and guiding them to be the people that they are meant to be, not the illusion that we created. It’s about paying attention. In my opinion this takes a lot more work than the traditional model of parenting but in this version, it allows much more room for personal growth. The purpose, of course, is not to try to be perfect. It’s not even about not being mad. It’s about realizing that you are mad; then asking yourself if you can accept that you are mad. Perhaps letting go of this anger before discipling your child or perhaps not. Conscious living is a journey not to be mastered but definitely to be practiced.
It is my hope that in practicing conscious parenting I will raise conscious human beings. How are you practicing conscious parenting? I would love to hear from you!