A Note from Lilly: When I first met Azia, I was so struck by her beauty. Azia not only is just textbook gorgeous, she has an attractiveness about her where you feel like she’s hugging you through her smile. She is grounded in her peace and energized by her purpose. And as I stood talking to her on the Hudson River, we realized we raised families in the Dallas area twenty minutes apart!
The more I dig into Azia’s work the easier it is to see how her flow of life is correlated to that show stopping aura of hers. She delivers such an important message this week to take time with ourselves and our children as a practice despite circumstances. Enjoy!
Have you ever had a moment when you are looking at your child and know they just need a moment to chill out, not necessarily a time out but just a break to breathe?
Yeah me too!
And if we are talking about my 5 yrs old, that can be almost every other hour. He is full of energy and is the climb-on-everything, leap-off-anything type of little boy. And then add in my daughter…she loves to dance and is constantly twirling around the house. This means my house can sometimes feel like a circus! I admit this can be hard for a mama that loves her morning routine with her tea and journal.
So over the past 2 years, I have found ways to use what I call the power of a pause with my resident circus acts. Learning to be intentional about creating pockets of calm in my family; especially with my kids. That pause that I truly adore is mindfulness.
Imagine logging on to the Headspace App or watching their sleep series on Netflix and you hear the voice of that famous bubble, Hi, I’m Andy- except today it says Hi, I’m Azia.
I am a dance educator, certified children’s yoga instructor, and mom of 2.
I incorporate mindfulness into our everyday life through conversation, movement, crafts, and activities. The ability to slow down, and be more present in the moment has been so enriching to our family.
Now before you write me off, remember I started this by sharing that my house feels like a circus and my son is jumping off things everywhere. My family is busy like yours. I have laundry that refuses to do itself like I am sure you do too (if you found the secret please share). When I talk about our mindfulness journey, I am simply sharing my choice to use creativity to balance the calm and the chaos. And our mindfulness practice is that moment of calm.
Mindfulness in short is the act of being aware and being present.
Often we add all the fluff and nuisances to the term and restrict it to being in a yoga studio or only accessible during mediation. However, that is not the case.
I practice mindfulness sitting at my desk at work or while going for a walk outside. I then practice also while riding in the car with the kids on the way to school. For us, it is so much more than a stretching sequence or a breathing exercise.
We now know life does not have to be calm or quiet for us to utilize this powerful tool.
So now you know what mindfulness is and a little bit of what it is not, let’s chat about why you AND your child would benefit from starting your own mindfulness practice.
One of the first reasons we started on this journey was using it as check-in. An introduction to the practice of mindfulness promotes self-awareness. I invite you to take the time to become more in tune with yourself and ask “How am I feeling?”
Then answer with no judgment. No right or wrong but more of a temperature check.
Start with yourself first. They always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. And it is wise advice. I can’t help my children become aware of their own emotions if I am not taking the time to pause and identify my own. When rushing to leave the house in the morning before school, am I mad, or is it that I am really feeling overwhelmed?
Am I disappointed that the morning is not going as smoothly as planned? Identifying those feelings for ourselves allows us to not only express them but also clues us into our actions and reactions to our kids.
And they have just as many big emotions as we do, often they are feeling so much and just moving through their day without that check-in.
One practice that has helped us is having a small emotion wheel on the back of their door beside their school checklist. Sometimes we will check in once they get home from school before starting homework. I ask them to take a few breaths with me then ask the simple question “how are you feeling?” The wheel is there to help them. If you have a child that may not like saying their emotion out loud try a number line 0-5 or even a color wheel.
In addition to promoting self-awareness, learning to take these “pauses” also can lead to better self-regulation. The practice of mindfulness provides you and your child with a tool to regulate stress.
We use other tools like breathing or counting to help us refocus and decide what we need in moments of frustration and stress.
Because we are crafters at heart, our favorite thing to do is to find ways to even fuse our creativity into our practice. We make our own stress balls out of balloons and trace our hands to use as breathing aids. I create silly stories while on our mats of funny animals and the shapes they can make with their bodies. The possibilities are endless.
However, the largest benefit of including a mindfulness practice in our family life has been the connection to each other. So often our lives are run by schedules and deadlines as we rush from school to practice to functions and then back home to do it all over again the next day. We are exhausted and often out of touch with our own families. And this is not an attack or a space to feel guilty. We have no time for mom guilt here. But an invitation to slow down even if for 2 minutes.
Imagine heading to that same game, instead of everyone playing on their phones while they finish off a quick snack, ask them to look out the window. What colors do they see? Do they see red? Or yellow? What sounds can they hear? Simply by bringing awareness to those two senses they are actively present. This is mindfulness in action.
You can take it a step further and when you finally get home and settle in, invite them to take 3 big breaths with you and find one thing that made them happy that day and share it with you. These are two different examples, both easily accessible and both great ways to connect with your kids.
I don’t expect everyone to start their mornings tomorrow with a 20-minute meditation before getting into the carpool line, for most families it’s unrealistic. Truthfully even for my family, it’s unrealistic. I do however propose an adjustment in the way you approach your day and daily consider finding moments of calm amid the busyness.
You need it and your kids need it, we all do. We all need a pause to breathe, a pause to laugh, a pause to be grateful.
My new friend, before you finish your time here let’s practice together.
Take a deep breath in, inhale through the nose…exhale through the mouth.
Repeat, be grateful for this community.
Inhale love and joy exhale fear and overwhelm.
Be present in this moment.
Now doesn’t that feel amazing?
Yeah, I know. I feel it too.
For more resources on mindfulness, you can find Azia on Instagram and on Youtube at Azia’s Crafty Mom World where she shares about calm, connection and crafts. She also hosts monthly Virtual Mommy and Me yoga classes. All ages and experience levels are welcomed.