Promoting mindfulness in your family is a caring and beautiful undertaking which must start by learning mindfulness skills yourself.
Your family is mostly guided not by your words but by your example: those day to day habits and your manner of communicating. Children are highly sensitive to their environments. It’s difficult for them to develop qualities that are not already present in their families. As they get older, kids notice and speak up when your actions don’t match your words!
This does not mean you have to be perfect to teach mindfulness to your family. What you do need to be is a consistent practitioner, continuously growing the qualities that come with mindfulness.
Approach this commitment not as a difficult challenge, but as a firm decision to keep supporting yourself to become what you dearly wish to be: serene, wise, present and compassionate.
Just as you would do for your child, start by creating the right environment for your own inner growth. Try to practice non-judgment and being consciously compassionate with yourself. Transform negative self talk and any frustrations you have with yourself into affectionate humor, and respond to your mistakes with kindness, not upset.
Bring some visible and tangible changes to your environment to further support your commitment to practice. Reduce clutter and find alternatives to buying more things. Be less dependent on electronics for passive entertainment. Include hobbies that promote quiet focus tand help break the constant chattering in your head. Needlework, making yogurt or bread, doing small home repairs are all good examples of activities that support pointed focus.
Always build your confidence as a teacher of mindfulness by consciously modifying your communication. While listening to others, if your mind wanders, take a breath and gently retun to attentive listening to the speaker, Learn to pause for a few moments before responding to comments or situations. During the pause, give yourself ample time to breathe, which is very comforting. Notice your own inner reactions. Then you are more able to respond in a peaceful and present way. As you slow down. the person or people you are talking with will also feel a sense of ease and peace in the conversation.
Choose a set of of mindfulness exercises/practices that naturally flow with your interests. Some form of meditation should be included, but it can be just 5 or 10 minutes of practice if you prefer. Make time for yoga, breathwork or a quiet walk outside.
There’s no set standard for when you move from mindfulness student to teacher. Perhaps a good marker would be when you see some shifts in your day to day way of being. You can observe your own and others’ words and behavior, without getting agitated or over-excited most of the time. You are more present to the simple things that make life beautiful. Also, you find yourself in a place of balance and equanimity whether others agree or disagree with you. Perhaps at this point you will really want to share what you’ve learned, and are ready to do so in the most present, mindful and compassionate way.
Because all of life is connected, self-compassion is really a gift of compassion towards all. Your self-actualization will lift up the environment for everyone around you. The peace and acceptance you create at home, and the practices you pass on to your family, will be your gift to generations that follow. By lovingly supporting your own mindfulness practice, you’ll ultimately bring about transformation much greater and farther than you can imagine.