STACY KESTEN is an American filmmaker, artist, actor and meditation student who resides in Studio City, Los Angeles with her Film and T.V. editor husband Brian Ging. Stacy is dedicated to the study of Mindfulness and Meditation at UCLA because she has witnessed firsthand the varied benefits in those who have practiced for a long time. She hopes to demystify the learning curve and help those who wish to begin a practice of Mindfullness and Meditation.
Stacy shares her advice about handling stress with We Are Daytrippers:
Just living in modern society is stressful. Add being a parent to that equation and the potential for stress increases significantly. Top that off with being a parent of a special needs child and the word “stress” takes on a whole new meaning. So how does one handle this particular version of stress? The kind of stress so few others experience or even understand? I would like to suggest Mindful Meditation.
I know what you’re thinking: “with all of the demands of balancing life and the responsibilities of being a parent to a child with special needs, who has time to meditate?” I get it. It seems counter-intuitive. There’s always so much to do, and if, by some alignment of the stars, you have 20 minutes to yourself, then, well, there’s still always something else to do. I understand. But here’s my question: What is the quality of your life and your parenting experience, when you don’t take care of yourself? How much time is wasted and lost when your day feels scattered and harried? What I’m suggesting is that in order to take better care of your child, I urge you to also make yourself a priority. It is absolutely essential to partake in self-care activities that not only calm you, but also give you the opportunity to find inner peace so that your life may be more balanced. If you can find that balance and calm, you will be a better model for your children, and they will pick up on your improved energy which will in turn help their balance and calm as well. It’s a win-win!
In my meditation groups and classes parents often express that they experience guilt when they steal away for 20 minutes to meditate. somehow, it seems like a “selfish” way to spend their time. I would like to submit that nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that there is no kinder gift we can offer to our family, our friends, and the world around us than the recharge we get by spending a few quiet moments alone, taking care of ourselves. When we take time to meditate we find more patience, clarity and presence. We also learn to cultivate more compassion, both for those around us and for ourselves.
As parents, it’s so easy to let the “inner-critic” take over. In case you’re not familiar with your inner-critic, allow me to introduce you to mine. My inner-critic is that nasty voice inside my head who shouts mean things; “you’re a bad parent” or “You’re not doing enough” or “you can’t do anything right!” Most of the time we allow these voices to run rampant and unchecked because we are unconscious of them. However, if we can become aware of them, they begin to lose their power over us – and one of the most effective ways to become aware of this toxic chatter is through meditation. you can practice meditation wherever you are – whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office, or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.
If you’re willing to give it a try, you might be asking HOW does one meditate? Do I burn incense, sit on a Tibetan pillow cross-legged and chant Ohm?!
It’s much simpler than that actually.
Here are a few steps:
1. Find a comfortable position, preferably sitting in a chair or lying down.
2. Take three deep slow breaths – Inhale and Exhale, Inhale and Exhale, Inhale and Exhale.
3. Now, allow your breathing to return to normal, and just gently observe your breath. Try not to control your breath. Try to just notice it. You can focus gently on any of the following:
- The feeling of the air coming in and out of your nostrils.
- The feeling of the rise and fall of your stomach, chest or shoulders.
- The feeling of the air filling your lungs.
- Any coping mechanism that helps you feel aware of your breath.
4. When you noticed that your mind wanders off (which it most definitely will) gently, and without giving yourself a hard time, bring your focus back to your breath.
5. If you would like to try it, here is a great guided meditation to get you started: BEGINNERS GUIDED MEDITATION
That’s it! Meditation is as simple as that. I’m not saying it’s easy, but the key is to be kind and patient with yourself. The more you practice, the more you will see benefits. Over time, parents often report increased patience and compassion towards their children (and themselves) among many more benefits. As you learn to focus on the present moment, you will also begin to learn what is worth giving your attention to and what is not (no thanks, inner-critic!) which is sure to simplify your life. If I have managed to peak your interest, just start off with whatever level or time seems do-able. Should you find a few free moments, do take time to take care of yourself, so that you can, in turn, take care of others. I can’t think of a better way to invest a few minutes of time.
Follow Stacy or ask her questions @MindfulnessGal
Follow her blog: http://www.mindfulinspirations.com/