For many parents, their greatest difficulties come when their children are upset or don’t obey. Parents deal better with their children’s meltdowns if they are not having one too. As a parent, what do you need to know to manage your own feelings?
My advice, as a massage therapist is, “Remember to breathe!” When we take four deep breathes, we usually start to calm down. That’s why, if a client’s muscles seem really tight, I ask them to take four deep breathes. By the end of those breathes, I can usually feel their muscles start to relax. When our bodies are relaxed, it’s easier to quiet our minds, and vice versa.
I know a parent who says to herself, “This too will pass,” and she calms down. Another looks out the window when she starts to get really upset, and with just that quick change of scene, she starts to calm down.
There are also finger positions, or gestures that can help us calm down. These symbolic gestures, called mudras, have been used all over the world for many centuries. They can help us go from anxious to calm, tense to relaxed, scattered to focused. We all use gestures to express how we feel. These special hand poses help us express how we want to feel. And then, often we do. Not every mudra works for everyone. Two examples follow.
1. Sit tall and straight. With your hands on your belly, put your left hand over your right, palms up, thumb tips touching. Breathe deeply and slowly for two or three minutes. This is a mudra for centering. It balances and quiets the mind. Practicing it, briefly, every day helps us stay resilient.
After you’ve tried each of these hand positions, become aware of how you feel. With practice, these gestures can help us in stressful parenting situations.
Emily Fuller Williams