Tag: parenting

What Makes Parenting Simple

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The only thing that can ever make anything complicated is the way we think about it, approach it, dream it. We make meaning of everything, and in doing so, we create the world around us. It looks like it is the other way around, but indeed, we are authors of our own lives, and no one can take that power away from us.

It is all a matter of choice.

Simple parenting is a choice.

Like any writer, we borrow from convention, trying on other people’s stories to see how they feel on our own skin, but we bring each pen stroke to life all by ourselves in our own authentic way. By choosing to live it.

One need look no further than the practice of parenting across cultures to see how invented our family life is. If you are Balinese, Brazilian, or British, the chances are you have grown up around certain notions of childhood and family, which differ to those held elsewhere in the world.

If you were a member of the Beng, living on the Ivory Coast of Africa, then you would likely believe your child to be a reincarnation of an ancestor. Your baby would have been drawn direct from Wrugbe, the Beng land of the dead, into a new life. You would wash your newborn with special black soap, reserved only for use on babies and dead bodies, the two groups inherently connected in your mind. You would need to persuade your little one into this new life of theirs and prevent them from returning to Wrugbe, which, after all, would be a more natural environment for them.You might prioritise buying them a cowry shell bracelet to protect them from illness and bad spirits.

For more about the Beng, and childrearing practices in different societies, see ‘A World Of Babies’ by DeLoache and Gottlieb, Cambridge Uni Press.

Common beliefs about parenting from our own stomping grounds cover the accepted practices for responsible care-giving and child-rearing. Some examples that come to mind are:

  1. Parenting is the hardest and most rewarding activity you will ever do,
  2. Struggle is bad for you and therefore should be eliminated from parenting,
  3. Children’s upbringings need to be carefully managed according to what scientific evidence indicates,
  4. Parent and child relationships are very complicated,
  5. We must prevent our children from becoming vulnerable to the world,
  6. We must protect the world from our children and their chaos,
  7. Having a child means you should stop doing a lot of other stuff, like sleeping, working,  going out in the evening, and travelling,
  8. Experts are better qualified than us in the field of childrearing, and therefore are the best people to decide how our child needs to be raised,
  9. The best way to promote rest is that children should go to bed early, at which point their parents have free time as a couple or as individuals,
  10. Parenting is not relaxing. EVER.

Do you find yourself nodding along at all? Do you recognise these notions? In my personal and subjective experience, they are often presented as the real truth about bringing up children.

Hang on though, because THIS IS ALL MADE UP CULTURE STUFF.

We can create ANYTHING.

We can do better than the cultural equivalent of Dan Brown.

We are not the victims of circumstance. We are the authors of our lives.

Even when you feel like Lord of the Flies has nothing on one of your average family outings, and you wonder if you are The Heart of Darkness to everyone else’s Swiss Family Robinson…..

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No, no, no.

I cannot speak for you, but this is what looks real to me right now:

  1. Parenting is a social construct which suggests an active role on the part of mum and dad when engaging in a relationship with their offspring. It neither MUST be hard nor rewarding.
  2. Struggle is a natural part of growth, and indicates that either a) growth is about to happen or b) consciousness is low and self-care is needed. Struggle need not be synonymous with chronic stress and anxiety. It only becomes so when people fall victim to the idea that no form of discomfort is OK in life, and/or people are not able to access appropriate support, and/or high levels of stress and anxiety become accepted as normal in that culture.
  3. Scientific evidence provides a patchy, yet valuable, resource of information for parents to make use of in their decision making, should they wish it, including the level of involvement parents should expect to have in their child’s development. However, any given piece of research informs practice best  where it has been well-evaluated with a particular context in mind.
  4.  Parent and child relationships are extremely simple. There is a mother or father and a child who interact with one another. Complications arise through the layers of thought that they create about one another. In this, adults are at a disadvantage due to their well-developed egos, inner autobiographers, and long, long memories. Not to mention, whatever beliefs and personal stories they have picked up from their own childhood.
  5. Like it or not, we inhabit a vulnerable physical place in the natural order of things, and we are not bullet proof, disease proof, shatter proof, or shock proof. There is only so much we can do about this. However, we are also resilient, with many innate gifts and abilities. The best way to access these inner resources is to try them out in a variety of contexts and manners of our choosing. Though children need to be kept from running into speeding traffic or launching themselves lemming style over balconies, they also need to experience failure, loss, mistakes, and difficulty.
  6. Children may be noisy, vigorous, curious, honest, and insatiable, which goes against social convention at times. It seems fair to expect that people should try to respect one another, as far as they are able, whether they are teeny weeny or big and grown up. However, we are built for social flexibility and negotiation which helps us figure out lots and lots of ways to interact. Therefore, we are quite capable of flexing those cultural muscles if caught off guard by an enterprising youngling. The best teacher of respectful behaviour is demonstrating by example, rather than getting all bent out of shape for fear of breaching decorum.
  7. Having a small person in tow does indicate that lifestyle will not be the same as without one. However, there are many, many forms that the lifestyle can take. Though change is an inevitable fact of life, there is no foregone conclusion that specific limits apply to families in terms of whether, when, and where people work, sleep, play, travel. Many parents do feel exhausted and limited, but it is more to do with being in modern Western society, plus having children, rather than a natural consequence of parenthood. Rigid beliefs about how family life should look which do not take into account everyone else’s view in that family can also lead to self-imposed limitations.
  8. Every person on this earth is unique, with their own physical form and their own version of reality. This means that understanding how to raise your child relies more on ability to understand your child than anything else. There can be no one size fits all techniques or tricks, and no formula which comes close to simply listening with great care and respect to a) your child and b) your common sense.
  9. In our packaged and managed, time-obsessed society, it is natural to want to package and manage chunks of time. However, experience is often much, much too messy for this. When attempting to manage how a group of people spend all their time, there are bound to be clashes, disagreements of expectation, misunderstandings, and differing needs. Also, people’s needs for solitude, company, leisure, play, or work, are not uniform, and do not conform to a set timetable. Too often people are not encouraged to respond to their actual needs, but rather to a clock or schedule. Though rhythm and routine are shown to have a calming effect on our physiology, whatever convention dictates in terms of when and how life happens can be totally off the mark. That is before you even introduce the question of what is practical, which can further influence who does what, how, and when.
  10. Parenting does not need to be hectic all the time, and there is such a thing as downtime with children, as well as without them. Everyone needs a bit of R and R during the day, especially small, growing, beings. What prevents parents from relaxing, much of the time, are minds which are too switched on and overstimulated to be present during these moments, or to recognise that quietude is an option. Most of all, looms a never-ending list of tasks that must be done before relaxation is permissible, which is the real rest-killer. Finding little, quiet windows is trickier when caring for multiple children, or a single child who is especially lively for whatever reason, but even so, half the battle is slowing down to a mellow mental pace, as and when an opportunity for respite occurs (however brief it may be).

The bedrock of our society is CHOICE, and yet all too often we forget that we have the power to write our own lives like never before. Instead we say, ‘Ah yes, we were once young, carefree souls, but now we have kids so’………

…..and then we tail off in despondent resignation.

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(Because, having spawned, and brought tiny humans into the world our own desires, our own needs, our own happiness is somehow shelved)

And we look back on nostalgic visions of childhood where the celebrations and wonderments, the big and small experiences, were always NOW and there was a magical sense of CONNECTION. A time when there were no details to worry about, and no forms to fill in, and no need to feel weighed down. We were so free.

Then we say ‘but that is what CHILDHOOD is like, and that reminds me, we have to provide this incredible, rich, textured experience to our own little ones, and gosh, what hard work it is’.

But we also have to make sure they do well in school. They have to learn to do calculus, or speak Mandarin, or score goals, or play the oboe. And we have to make sure they have a successful career and that they get to be happy because they can get all the material goods they could ever require, plus spiritual fulfilment, emotional health, and whole-brain heartfulness.

At some point we might start looking for a set of magic techniques to take care of all this.

Then we see that we need to do all these things for ourselves too, in order to be enough, and to be happy, and that now we have to do it ON TOP OF parenting. If we don’t then we are setting a terrible example, and our children are doomed.

You see now, what a complicated burden parenting is.

However, this reasoning ignores the glaring fact that IT IS ALL 100% FABRICATED.

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The only thing that parenting needs to be is a connection between you and your child that is grounded in the present moment. A connection through which you attempt to understand them and to do what is best to help them grow. It is that simple. All good decisions and feelings and experiences will flow, natural as rainfall, from that connection.

There are so many choices. Bold choices, timid choices, creative choices, wise, foolish, and wacky choices.

The rest is just generic, made up, dime-a-dozen culture stuff.

What are you making up today? Is it necessary? Is it beautiful?

Treat your obligations like furnishing your dream house. Does it make sense to you? Does to bring you pleasure?

Then choose, choose, choose. And remember that you chose, so that you can unchoose it should you so wish.

What do you choose, you Mamajestic lovelies? Tell me what matters most to you.

What would you choose over and again?

What could you unchoose to make your parenting more simple?

Come share your thoughts in the Mamajestic Facebook Group.

With lots and lots of squishy love,

Alexis xxx

PS You can read more about parenting and connection at the Three Principles For Families Centre Site

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The Special Ingredient In Your Engagement With the World

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Last week I attended an online masterclass by Jamie Smart, author of the best-selling book ‘Clarity‘ and hosted by Emma McDevitt, founder and director of The Coaching Exchange.

Among many other handy nuggets of wisdom, I brought away the answer to a question that had been niggling in the back of my mind. A question that I could not quite articulate, let alone answer, until the missing piece of the puzzle popped up, courtesy of Jamie and Emma.

I had a big insight about GROUNDING. To be specific, how it relates to engagement and connection with everything in our experience that is not us. Also, I saw how engagement in the process of carrying, birthing, and raising children is connected to our grounding at a particular moment. As soon as that fell into place, I had a series of realisations which I hope will be useful to you too.

I have written a two part series of posts all about grounding. Part One is all about what grounding is, how it shows up in our lives, and some working examples of grounding in practice. Part Two: How Grounding Works From Birth To Adulthood, is about different degrees of grounding we experience in different areas of life, and how nature and nurture are involved in the process.

So read on to hear all about it!

Mysterious Pools of Consciousness

Several years ago, I read Alison Gopnik’s Philosophical Baby (you may have heard me mention it a few times now), in which she describes the difference between how adults and young children experience their Consciousness, or rather, their ability to be aware of their thoughts. Gopnik used the term ‘a stream of consciousness’ to describe adult awareness and ‘pools of consciousness’ to describe that of children. The main idea is that adults have a more or less continuous internal commentary going on, while small kids have not yet acquired these inner voices. So, adults talk to themselves in their mind, while little ones simply do not think in that way yet.

You hear pre-schoolers chattering away in their games, and this is what eventually becomes our inner voice, along with other internalised chunks of language, like those helpful instructions your parents use a lot (i.e. Slow down. It’s not a race. Use a plate.). Before this process occurs, children are aware of going into one activity to the next, with no interim chatter. They just get into something and drop farther and deeper into it, until something occurs that draws them out again. I found this idea quite arresting, but could not put my finger on why this phrase should reverberate in my head as it did. A. Pool. Of. Consciousness.

In my mind, I had a vivid memory of watching our children playing at the beach, completely engrossed in their sand and buckets, as if nothing existed except the grains running through their fingers or heaped onto their spades. That is what it is like to be in a pool of consciousness. It feels pretty damn good too. It is a state of complete peace and total engagement with the world.

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My question was ‘what draws people into a Pool of Consciousness?’

What Lies Beneath Deep Engagement In Life

We have all been children, and all known this ‘pool of consciousness’ type engagement with the world. It is as if whatever we are in contact with becomes an extension of ourselves. For a moment, we lose our separateness, and we become the object or person or motion that we are engaged with. The writer and their laptop, the surfer and the waves, the driver and the car, the child and the handfuls of sand, are all bound together by this glorious, liberated feeling, where we are one with our surroundings, with what we are doing. We are not ourselves, and we are more than ourselves, and we are without the worries and fears that otherwise might trip us up.

All in all, it is pretty awesome.

Grounding is the path on which we usher in this experience of engagement (and flow and vitality, oh yes and love and happiness).

There is a quiet, yet probing feeling. It is more than being in the present. It is a deep grounding in the actual real world ‘out there’, as opposed to being deluded by the narrative of our inner voice. Grown ups get wrapped up in the voice’s projections of how reality is, was, or should be, while little ones do not. This is because the chief purpose of childhood is to learn and grow, while adults are responsible for sorting out the practicalities which allow them to do this. It makes sense for grown ups to know things, categorise stuff, and build up complex mental maps of reality. Our inner voice is really handy for this.

What we often forget to do in the demanding modern world, is to keep the lightest hold on what we ‘know’. The voice ceases to be a tool and becomes our master. This is dangerous, because the voice only has a limited grasp of what is actually real and what appears real. In looking only towards what we already think we know, we lose connection with ‘out there’ because it is always changing.

When we allow ourselves space for engagement, we allow ourselves to explore what is ‘out there’ in a more playful manner. We can feedback new information to ourselves, and incorporate this learning into our perceptions. It is like an automatic update system for the mind. For this system to function well, we must be able to look in another direction than into our existing personal thinking about life, the universe, and everything. This means that we can  look away from any anxieties and preoccupations which are scuppering our connection to objective reality, and see the objects of our attention anew.

Grounding is the extent to which you are able to see that world ‘out there’ for what it actually is, rather than as a projection of what is going on ‘in here’.

This is true clarity. It is feeling alive in the most powerful way. So, it is worth taking time to understand it.

I love this quote from Don Deacy, a former client of Jamie Smart’s:

“Grounding is balance. An ease of movement and interaction with the world. From grounding comes our ability to flow, to extend our senses, to ride the waves, to take the knocks and keep our equilibrium.”

Putting Grounding To Use

Deep ‘Pool of Consciousness’ type grounding is felt in those magic instances where your learning and insight come together in such a way that you feel guided, at ease, and confident, and know just what the next step you need to take will be. You feel at one with whatever you are engaging with. The right study at the right time enhances this raw material, and the potential for outstanding results. For the person diving down, the doing of the thing itself offers immense pleasure, regardless of outcome, and is borne forward by a sense of wonder and rightness. An example of this is the way Mozart’s natural talent and flair for composition allowed him to take all he learned about music and apply it to dazzling effect.

When I watch my children, wading in their pools of consciousness, there is such deep concentration available in those quieter minds of theirs, so much less self-obsession and insecurity. Though they are conscious, they are unselfconscious. Though they already know much about themselves and the world, they can let that go on a whim, and embrace a whole new understanding of who they are. The same goes for the way they view what is going on around them with non-judgement, and get involved in it with abandon.

Sure, it’s not as if children never have tantrums or get annoyed when grand expectations are derailed, just as grown ups do. However, they also mess around a lot more with who they are and what is real, and experiment with their realities to see what feels good. They are not obeying some pre-decided Order of All Things, which cannot be changed, or electing to create an ongoing thought-storm around a particular area of their existence.

So, for example, my daughter, aged six, digs around for ‘treasure’ and finds shiny pebbles, bits of foil, and bottle tops. She is engaged in her thought, but she is also in  touch with reality, completely engaged with what is. It sounds paradoxical, but for her, she IS finding treasure. No one is going to tell her that treasure is actually only gold coins and diamonds, so her paper treasures do not count.

My girl knows that her finds are not precious jewels, but all the same, she allows her bits and bobs to be treasure, and does not judge or compare them to objects of greater monetary value. There is no lie in the game she is creating. The game is not about values. It is not even about her, but is an experimentation with story, with earth, with tangible objects, with exactly what is to hand in that moment. The pleasure is in the finding, not a question of what is found and how it can be audited.

The real difference between children and adults is not that adults are not so imaginative or playful, but that we don’t realise, or do not remember, how much we make up. Kids understand they are the players. Adults forget this, because they get concerned about what the game should be about, or who is winning or losing, or how to play a better game. Before you know it, you think you are at the mercy of the game you invented, all because you forgot that it was you who created it.

Grounding and The Childbearing Journey

Now, time to bring all this around to the topic of having babies and parenting:

To show how grounding can make a real difference in experiences of Childbearing, I want to explore how we make use of various labels for labour contractions and parenting ‘types’.

There are various ways to view the phenomena of contractions and a number of labels we might apply, like ‘rushes’, or ‘sensations’, or ‘tightenings’, or the more traditional word: ‘pains’. The contractions themselves are simply the tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscles. The meaning and label given to this process by the labouring woman has a huge influence on how they are experienced.

If you are pregnant, heading into labour, and you know contractions as ‘pains’ AND you are quite certain that pain is unpleasant or scary, you will get an experience of pain which is unpleasant or scary. There is no room for play or negotiation. If you have the slightest glimpse that contractions could be sensations or rushes or tightenings, you can see even a tiny possibility that they might not be so scary, then the door is open for the experience to be something other than painful and scary. You suddenly have more options to experience these contractions in other ways.

Contractions can be the strumming of a bass, the intro to the song of your baby’s arrival. They can be exhilarating, and you can welcome and ride contractions, or tightening sensations, or rushes. This is not something you do with your intellect. You have to know that contractions are a rhythm of sensation, in the same way that my little girl knows her playthings are treasure. They are bass beats. They are good, pulsing, waves of feeling that you do not need to be afraid of. Babies being born have their grounding to help them, and you have yours to help you. I promise you that this is so.

To take another example, consider the many labels that can get thrown at parents:

There is the Helicopter parent, in constant vigilance; the Neglectful parent who is too into her phone to pay attention; the Gentle parent who is baby-wearing and co-sleeping; the Incompetent Parent, who cannot be trusted; the Slacker parent, who can’t be arsed to get dressed; the Tiger parent, who locks her kid on a balcony for refusing to do their piano practice; the Perfect parent, who is always kind, clean, with nutritious snacks and educational activities to hand. None of these stereotypes are actually real, they are caricatures that we use to connect kinds of parenting behaviour with individuals we encounter, including ourselves.

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Alexis was experiencing a lack of grounding.

When faced with human behaviour, our grounding points us towards what is real, and away from these stereotypical constructions which can be so demoralising, damaging. If we are grounded, we are aware that labels and people are not the same thing. This means that uncharitable assignations cannot derail us in our efforts to build relationships with others, and to treat ourselves with care.

When we are coming from a place of deep grounding, then we are able to see that we are NOT a label, we are a person who is worthy of love, respect, and belonging, and the same goes for everyone else. In order to express love and kindness for those we care for, we have to extend this compassion to ourselves and other parents. Going deeper in our grounding is the most efficient way to develop a fulfilling engagement with everything and everyone in our lives, to enjoy ourselves, and to enjoy our SELF. It affords us a look at the sunny day of reality instead of gazing into a cloud of inner chatter.

Grounding reminds us, that we too are treasures, to be cherished and enjoyed.

Grounding Is Your Silent Supporter

When it comes to becoming a parent, for the first or a multiple of times, then grounding is something you can rely on through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. After all, even though it may not always appear to be the case, creating, birthing, and nurturing our young is a natural process. Even if you feel like giving up and running off to some kind of island for beleaguered souls, the more you know that you can breathe and be kind to yourself when the window is foggy, the less you will worry about difficult emotions. Look at the fantastic capabilities of your body and mind, with which you make brand new life. Take a look around you and really see that you AND your children have deep grounding from which to grow.

It is human and normal to have clouded judgement regarding what is real from time to  time, perhaps even often. It is also the case that your grounding can support you, even as you learn to dive deeper, more loving, and more daring than ever. Perhaps through this process you may also revisit the simple absorption and pleasure of a pool of consciousness, in the midst of that ordinary, everyday stream. Grounding is the key to deep engagement with the world ‘out there’ and with all our experiences have to offer us.

So hurray for grounding! Plus, I am so pleased to have worked out what was niggling me about pools of consciousness. Thank you Jamie and Emma for unsticking me!

Do come back and check out Part Two: How Grounding Works From Birth To Adulthood

If you want to learn more about getting grounded, then I highly recommend reading either of Jamie’s books: Clarity and The Little Book of Clarity. Find out all about him and his work here.

You can connect with Emma, and join a vibrant community of coaches, at The Coaching Exchange

What is your experience of grounding?

Did you find this post helpful? If so, feel free to share it around.

Come and try out one of my services to deepen your grounding in pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or mothering.

I would love to hear what you think about grounding! So, do come and share your thoughts in the Mamajestic Facebook Group or leave me a comment below.

It is always awesome to connect with you all ‘out there’. Sending you good wishes!

Lots of love,

Alexis

xxx

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Christmas Presence 7: Dare To Be Different!

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On the seventh day of Christmas, Alexis said to me….

Dare to be different!

We are presences,

All is well,

There is nought to do,

Let your light shine,

All we see is thought,

and we are innately happy!

I thought about re-recording this video, because I looked at it and thought, now that is an unflattering angle, I sound out of breath, and it is not how I like to appear in ideal circumstances! Then I decided it was perfect for this post, this message, and this day. Imperfections are allowable, natural, and a healthy part of life. By being truly present with what is, including our imperfections and mistakes, then we can use our substantial human gifts to express what is in our hearts. In doing this, we can let our lights shine that bit brighter.

Keeping it short and sweet today:)

Here is a lovely video from Brene Brown on Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones That Count.

How do you choose to express your heart this Christmas?

What imperfections can you allow to be in your life, in your self?

Come join us in all our imperfect glory in the Mamajestic Facebook Group

or do me a kindness and come like the Mamajestic Page!

Lots of love,

Alexis

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Christmas Presence 4: There Is Nought To Do

On the fourth day of Christmas, Alexis said to me….

There is nought to do,

Let your light shine,

All we see is thought,

And we are innately happy!

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In the first three videos, I talked about how our evolution gave us incredible natural capacities, that we experience everything via our thoughts, and that we have our light on a range of settings from brighter to dimmer at any given moment, and this affects what we are aware of.

All of these factors help to understand presence in the moment and what takes us towards or away from it.

That is all very well, you might be thinking: Accepting that it is through presence that we are in touch with our natural gifts, do our best thinking, and experience higher levels of consciousness, then WHAT DO I DO TO BE MORE PRESENT?

Well, this may be good or bad news…

There is nothing to do.

That is, there is no one size fits all, all purpose technique that will make you present.

However, you are in a fantastic position to observe when you are most present. When do you fall into presence? When do you tend to get caught up in thoughts? When do you feel most at peace?

Because we experience everything through thought, then it is our thoughts rather than our circumstances which take us into (or away from) presence. This is why there is no technique that works one way for everyone, no situation you can contrive to work 100 per cent of the time. We all think in different ways, and at different moments, so returning to presence depends on what is happening in our minds, which is always changing. That means that being awake to what occurs to you in a particular moment will be the best way to see your path to presence.

However, that is not to say that what is helpful for one person might not be helpful for another. You have to be the judge of what is helpful for you, and what is most appropriate to what you are experiencing.

In this video, I talk about what I have found helpful in my own everyday explorations of presence. You might be surprised at how simple and straightforward presence can be.

I just want to add that I talk about getting sleep in the video, and I know that can be tricky for pregnant ladies and mums with babies and/or frequent night-wakers. I myself am mother to a two year old who wakes often, sometimes to breastfeed, sometimes to snuggle, so I feel your pain. Believe me. However, I do notice that presence helps a great deal in how rested I feel on a smaller amount of sleep than I would ideally like, or when I want to go to sleep, but have an eager toddler clambering on top of me muttering ‘bbbbbeeeaaaadddd’ (breast).

While in the video I am describing some practical ways I became more present, I would like to describe how my thinking changed as I began to slow down and realise the possibility of being more present and what that could offer my experience:

I began by noticing my thinking. I started to see when my mind was really busy and moving very fast, and when it was slow. I had always believed that being able to do lots of thinking was good, so not adding extra thought to my mind on purpose was quite a big change for me, and I found that it did help me feel calmer. I needed to clarify that it was indeed good for me to do this, but once I saw that I had a better experience and was more productive as a result, I continued with the experiment.

Another thing was that I began to notice how much time I spent imagining things, like  how I wanted my life to look once I had sorted everything out to my liking. Catching myself doing this, and instead looking at enjoying the experiences I was actually having made a big difference to my sense of wellbeing.

Then, as I slowed down a bit, I began to see the value more in everyday experiences which I found an annoying responsibility, like getting the washing up done, or driving in and out of town. I began to see these as intervals where I could let my mind relax and quiet down. It was seeing the value in these experiences that allowed me to do this.

I also began taking pressure off myself to perform lots of tasks when in a low state of consciousness, and knew that at these moments the best thing I could do was as little as possible. Though rarely did this mean actually doing nothing, it meant focussing on a minimum of essential tasks.

Another thing, was experimenting with dropping thoughts about everything that needed to be done, even just for a moment, in order to enjoy a quiet moment of connection cuddling a child or watching them play at the park. Again, with the confidence that if I let my mind quiet down during these times, then I would be able to get whatever needed doing done in a much more equable manner.

What naturally followed from that was dropping things that I thought I had to do, because I was more in step with what I wanted to achieve and what I could achieve in a sane way.

This occurred over a couple of months, as I had a series of insights about the inside-out nature of experience, that experience happens through thought, natural resources, and consciousness.

Here are some helpful links…

This is a great podcast with Lian Brooke Tyler and Jacquie Forde, where you can hear a lovely take on getting more present for Christmas.

An oldie from the Positivity Blog. Certainly a few practical shortcuts to presence:)

The most important thing is not to beat yourself up when you realise you have not been present, but to be grateful that you are when you are:)

What helps you get present?

I would love to hear about your experiences.

Feel free to share any of these posts. Spread the Christmas Presence. The more, the merrier!

Lots of love,
Alexis
Xxx

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Christmas Presence 3: Let Your Light Shine!

On the third day of Christmas Alexis said to me…

Let your light shine!

All we see is thought,

and we are innately happy.

In the third video in the Christmas Presence Series, I am talking about Consciousness, what it is, and how it relates to our presence in the moment.

Like our ability to think, our common sense, and our innate happiness, our ability to be conscious of ourselves within our experiences is part of our default make-up as human beings.

Consciousness is awareness. It relates to presence because, the extent we are aware of our innate happiness depends on what is within our consciousness at a given moment.

Watch the video to hear more…

 
If you have already put up your Christmas decorations, then very possibly you have been through the ritual testing of the Christmas Tree lights. Those itty bitty bulbs are just not built to last, are they! Once they are set up, they are so pretty (assuming they not stopped working the moment they were mounted on branches).

We have this whole affair to do this weekend, and the children may combust with anticipation if we do not get our festive asses in gear, pronto.

If our thoughts are like Christmas ornaments, dangling on the tree of natural intelligence, in the living room of reality, then our consciousness is a bit like Christmas lights:

Sometimes it glows only dimly or flashes in a frenetic way, so that the tree, and its decor, is barely illuminated. We can screw up our eyes in the gloom trying to make out what’s what. We can only see so much. It is in these moments when we are least aware of our innate happiness and mental health.

Other times, it glows bright and we can see the tree, the decorations, and garlands stretching off around the room, star shining atop and all. We recognise that these are but paper, glass, and foil confections, but damn it, it’s lovely to behold, so who cares. It is in these moments that we are most aware of our innate happiness and mental health.

The brightness of the lights is akin to our level of consciousness at a given moment. When we are experiencing a bright moment of high consciousness, then we have an awareness of the big picture in life, and a clear perspective with which to focus on what is real, true, and good. When we are in a dim moment of low consciousness, then we get blinker vision, tend to become caught in our heads, and struggle with what is real, true, or even a bit good.

Like those nifty Christmas lights, there are lots of settings in between dim glow and bright luminescence, and our consciousness is set to move up and down between them all the time. It is normal for your level of consciousness to go up and down, yet the higher you go, the higher you can come back to.

The best clue as to what your consciousness is up to at the moment is how you are feeling. If you feel exhausted, drained, and annoyed, or hopeless, or angry, distrustful, and scared, you can bet it is low.

If you feel compassionate, trustful, grateful, happy, contented, and at peace, you can bet it is high.

Of course, there are all the sensations in between too.

Feelings are your guide and will show you if your consciousness is alighting on thoughts which are going to point you towards your innate happiness and health or not.

If you are feeling bad, and recognise that you are in a low state of consciousness, then this is not a call to action, but a call to inaction. Best do as little as possible. With space to do so our consciousness rises on its own. If at all possible, do nothing for a while and see what happens.

Just let that light shine.

Here are some links to explore relating to Consciousness:

This is a fantastic round up of thought provoking research about consciousness by New Scientist,

This is a Guardian article about how David Chalmers redefined the field of Consciousness Research, 

And here is David Chalmers’ fascinating TED talk (because I cannot do a blog post that does not link to TED it seems!)

Enjoy!

I would love to hear your thoughts on Christmas Presence.

What do you find the greatest challenge to being present? When do you notice that you are most in the moment?

Come chat to me in the Mamajestic facebook group, or by commenting.

Lots of love,

Alexis

Xxx

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