Have you heard about mindful parenting? It is a movement centered around being more calm, present and peaceful with your children and yourself so that you can know how to best parent them. Well, there is a new mindful parenting book out called The Present Mother by Catherine Weiss and it is making a splash. In Amazon’s “Hot New Releases”, it was #2 in the Motherhood category and #5 in Women’s Studies category. The Present Mother guides the reader on a 40-day journey inward to discover and release the root cause of any disconnection she feels with her child. Today, I am excited to share with you an excerpt from The Present Mother along with a couple of mindful parenting worksheets from the book.
A Mindful Parenting Book
Catherine Weiss is a mothering thought leader and pioneer in the field of mindful parenting. In 2007, shortly after she became a mother, she began a regular practice of self-inquiry, questioning literally hundreds of stressful thoughts, because of its transformational effect on her mothering. She finds that Love and Connection spring forth in the present moment when the mind is clear of stressful thinking. She helps mothers remember and trust the expert they always have within. You can learn more about the mindful parenting book she authored called, The Present Mother (affiliate link below) and join her group for mothers on Facebook.
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Are you interested in realizing more kindness, compassion, unconditional love, trust, understanding, happiness, and presence in your mothering? If so then I think you will enjoy this excerpt of The Present Mother printed here with permission.
Welcome to Morning 26 – The Beautiful Flow
Dear Present Mother,
I want to know where the unclear places are in my mind. I love getting clear. It’s just awesome when I am. Life flows. I am in the river of this flow, seeing all the beautiful scenery as life keeps appearing to me, now, and now, and now. My children are part of the river. We’re all happily moving, moment to moment, through life. There is no resistance. When branches hang up a bunch of leaves in the river, and block the flow, it is all part of it, part of what’s to love about the river, the flow. When spouse raises voice, when children work out a “conflict,” it is all part of the river — occurrences appearing and disappearing in and out of the present moment. What an amazing trip.
Finding Where You Are Unclear
I remember the first stressful thought I ever questioned. It was, “He’s sucking the life out of me.” This was a judgment I had about my then two-year old son. I believed old stories about how we are supposed to sleep-train our children. I believed that my husband’s (and mainstream American society’s) way of leaving a two-year old in their rooms to go to sleep by themselves was the way we were supposed to do it. I was sleep-deprived, I felt depressed, I felt furious with my son, and then I felt the deepest guilt and anger from feeling upset with my precious child.
My son was crying and crying. He seemed scared of me and my reactions. Seeing that look of fear on his face was not what I wanted for him. He was a mess. I was a mess. My perception of what was occurring in those moments was that it should not be this way. “He should not be fighting me to sleep by himself,” I thought. I was confused too because I thought I was doing all the “right” gentle sleep-training techniques and tricks to help him learn how to fall asleep by himself. He was not having it though. I was fighting the river. I was completely exhausted.
During inquiry, when I reconstructed this stress-inducing thought and looked at it from a different point of view, I finally saw all the ways that I was sucking the life out of me. Instead of sleeping when he was sleeping, I was talking on the phone or doing dishes or something else that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Instead of trusting my own intuition to just hold him and let him fall asleep without trying to force him, I was focusing more on my fear than on my love.
Listen To Your Heart
When I started seeing how I – not my son – was causing my own frustrations, I started listening more deeply to my heart than my head. I started being responsible for my own experience, my own feelings. I started noticing how to be at peace with reality and how to be present to the wisdom that emerges from within me when I stopped fighting with reality. Something bloomed and blossomed that day. Something was born. I was aware that I was 100% responsible for my perception of life. It wasn’t like saying “Oh, this is good” when I was really thinking it was awful. No, I really believed it was good. Thank goodness I had seen what I saw. I felt like things would get much better from then on, and it did. My son and I were in harmony again because my thinking was in harmony with my real life.
After that, I started living differently by sleeping when he slept, carrying him in a sling or backpack and letting him fall asleep on his own, getting some help around the house, eating better, getting fresh air and sunshine more often. Aaaahhhh. It felt so good. My son stopped fighting against me fighting against him. It was perfect: I discovered the real cause and started receiving all the positive effects.
Part of me wants to be your cheerleader and encourage you to keep up the good work you’re doing by questioning your thoughts and filling in the worksheets. However, me being a cheerleader for you would assume that you need one. It’s more of a personal motivation thing though, really. Think about it. Do you ever need a cheerleader in order to do something you really want to do? Or, do you just seek to do it, no matter if you have a cheerleader or not? Sometimes, a cheerleader for your enlightenment can distract you from your own enlightenment. If you rely on me to encourage you then you don’t get to encourage yourself. I don’t need encouragement to do self-inquiry. I do it because I love being happy and present to my beautiful children and connected to them in a way I’ve never known before self-inquiry.
That’s why I like being a mentor and a guide, not a teacher, and not a cheerleader. I’m the same way with my kids. They are their own cheerleader for themselves. They teach themselves. I mentor them by being an example for them of how to live a happy life. I guide them when they want me to guide them. I answer their questions. I give them the resources they’re asking for. I take them places they’d like to go. I’m not their cheerleader. I try not to ever give my opinion of them to them. I want them to look always to themselves for their own opinion of themselves. I don’t want to cripple them into always needing others’ opinions of them to see if they’re doing a “good” job. I want judgments to be left out of the picture and presence to be left in the picture.
I can always pave the way for you if you want to fill in the worksheets and question your thinking, but I would never want it for you if you don’t want it. So, even if you’re struggling a bit with the worksheets, or with your own thinking, know that you’re doing it perfectly, no matter where you are. Remember, you can’t do it wrong.
For now, may the river of your life with your children show you the places where you’re fighting the current, so that self-inquiry can get you back into the beautiful flow.
Wishing you, dear one, Presence and Peace today,
Mindful Parenting Worksheets
Here are two mindful parenting worksheets that are at the end of the chapter to help your self-inquiry process along.
Self-Inquiry Worksheet 1 of 2
We’ve been told all of our lives not to judge others. The fact is we do it anyway. This worksheet allows the mind to see itself, to see the reality of its own thoughts, and to truly consider the thoughts by putting them on paper. This is the time to let those judgments have their own life.
- Think of a specific person that is triggering stress in you. It could be your child, partner, ex-partner, mom, or dad. (Not yourself) They could be living or not living.
- Now, recall a specific stressful situation you had with that person. It might have been a face to face interaction, an event, a phone call, or any situation that caused you any feelings of discomfort. Identify the specific stressful situation, and see it as a single snapshot in time.
- Witness that single snapshot. Notice the time, place, words spoken, body language, and energy of each person. Then, 1) Identify and name the primary uncomfortable feeling you were having, 2) identify why you felt that way, and 3) answer the questions below with short, simple statements. Please do not try to be psychologically correct, spiritual, or wise now. For the purposes of this worksheet, be as judgmental as you were when you were in that situation.
- In this situation, who angers, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why? (Example: I’m frustrated with Aiden because he won’t listen to me.)
- In this situation, how do you want them to change? (Example: I want Aiden to stop what he’s doing, look at me, and listen to me.)
- In this situation, what advice would you offer to them? (Example: Aiden should learn how to listen.)
- In order for you to feel better in this situation, what do you need them to think, say, feel, or do? (Example: I need Aiden to listen.)
- What do you think of them in this situation? Make a list. Be petty. (Example: Aiden is just like his dad – he won’t respect me.)
- What is it in or about this situation that you don’t ever want to experience again? (Example: I don’t ever want to be disrespected by Aiden again.)
Review what you wrote. Pick one sentence you wrote that feels the most stressful to you right now. Circle it. Rewrite it at the top of Worksheet 2.
(Adapted from Byron Katie International, Inc. Rev. 7/2014, with consent.)
Self-Inquiry Worksheet 2 of 2
This worksheet is a meditation. When answering the questions, close your eyes, be still, and patiently wait to witness what appears to you. Always give yourself time to let the deeper answers meet the questions.
- In the space below, write the thought you circled from Worksheet 1. Then answer questions 1-4.
- Reconstruct the thought in three new ways. Possibilities are: by directing it inward (number 5 below), exchanging the other person’s name with yours (number 6 below), and stating its exact opposite (number 7 below). Examples are provided below. Then, find and record three genuine, specific examples of how each new thought is as true or truer for you in that situation.
- If you circled the thought from your answer to question 6 on Worksheet 1, you would reconstruct the thought by replacing the words, “I don’t ever want to…” with “I am willing to…” and “I look forward to…”
Re-write the thought you circled on Worksheet 1: (Example: Aiden doesn’t listen to me.)
- In that situation, is this thought true? (Yes or no only. There are no right or wrong answers. If no, skip to question 3.)
- In that situation, can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no only)
- In that situation, how did you react when you believed that thought?
- In that situation, who would you be if you could not believe that thought?
- Reconstruct the thought by directing it inward. (Example: I don’t listen to me.) Find and record three genuine, specific examples in that situation how this new thought is as true or truer than the original thought.
- Reconstruct the thought by exchanging the other person’s name with yours. (Example: I don’t listen to Aiden.) Find and record three genuine, specific examples of how this new thought is as true or truer for you in that situation.
- Reconstruct the thought by stating the exact opposite. (Example: Aiden does listen to me.) Find and record three genuine, specific examples of how this new thought is as true or truer for you in that situation.
Adapted from Byron Katie International, Inc. Rev. 7/2014, with consent.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this excerpt of The Present Mother. I think is a great mindful parenting book to help you practice being present and learn how to free yourself of limiting thoughts.
What do you think about mindful parenting? Do you think you will read the whole mindful parenting book and do more mindful parenting worksheets? Do you want to start a new parenting pattern?