Why is mindfulness helpful?
Mindfulness is the quality of being fully present and aware of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations, without needing to judge, escape or change anything.
Mindfulness is a wonderful companion to deschooling! In fact, I would say that deschooling often leads us almost accidentally into mindfulness. When we intentionally deschool, we are making a conscious choice to become aware of all the things that are triggering or uncomfortable for us and to sit with them. We understand that the thoughts and worries running through our heads are not an objective reflection of reality, but our own unique and personal interpretation of reality, laden with all our current beliefs and past experiences. And, we are committed to moving through the discomfort with curiosity, in the knowledge that what lies on the other side will feel far more authentic and joyful. We are deep into the realm of mindfulness, whether we recognise it as such, or not.
Mindfulness gives us the tools and resources to stay present and open even when things get challenging. It helps us to live (and parent) from a calmer, more aligned, place, where reactivity and conflict are replaced with curiosity and compassion. This ability to stay calm and to not spiral into panicky or negative thoughts opens up a whole new space within which we can live in relationship with our child. We become adept at asking - what is actually happening in this moment and how can I respond? From here, we can move beyond old patterns that don’t serve us or our children. This paves the way for living with our children in a far more joyful and fulfilling way.
Mindfulness also helps us to pay attention to ourselves and our our own needs. Deschooling naturally touches in to some vulnerable parts of ourselves, so being compassionate to ourselves is really essential. Many of us are brought up with the idea that our own needs are somehow not important, and this can often get exacerbated when we become parents. But, extending kindness and acceptance to ourselves not only helps us lead happier lives, it also greatly increases our capacity for holding our children with compassion.
And, if your child finds it hard to self-regulate, mindfulness is a game changer for the whole family. Not only will you increase your capacity to hold big emotions and difficult situations calmly and compassionately, but your modelling will help your child develop their own tools for self-regulating. The idea that something so gentle-sounding as mindfulness can possibly be a solution to highly-charged situations may seem surprising, but learning how to soothe and regulate our nervous systems is powerful.