Mindfulness and Your Family

As we strive to align every aspect of our lives, this series now moves on to what is likely a sensitive topic for many. Family relationships are connections in life that you didn’t necessarily choose but find yourself engaging with on a daily basis. Last month, I discussed how mindfulness can improve relationships, and now, I want to address the more specific – and often complicated – subject of family.

Encourage Understanding and Empathy

Within family relationships, it’s often difficult to distinguish unhealthy patterns. You may fail to analyze these intimate relationships and end up perpetuating negative tendencies, dwelling on past injuries, or judging harshly. However, mindfulness allows you the opportunity to look at your family relationships through a different lens. Rather than focus on past offenses, mindfulness encourages you to communicate and process thoughts in the moment. Being mindful allows you to have more clarity, understanding, and empathy toward your family member. Studies show that siblings who are more empathetic toward each other report stronger, more caring relationships. With mindfulness and empathy, there is less focus on the self and more objectivity within the relationship, complete with the ability to understand differing views.

Involve the Family

The wonderful thing about improving family life through mindfulness is that it can be incorporated into the daily routine of everyone in your family. While you can certainly create a Zen space, it doesn’t have to be structured. Mindfulness, together as a family, can function as a dinner conversation, where each person reflects on what they are grateful for. Mindfulness can weave through lessons learned and disciplines administered, and even through tactics such as helping your child name the different emotions they experience and recognize how they make the child feel. Mindfulness is a skill that must be learned and practiced like any other, and the family household can be a supportive space to explore this technique. Encourage family members to share experiences to draw attention to the here and now.  Eden Kozlowski, who teaches mindfulness to kids, suggests easy ways to incorporate mindfulness at home.

Prioritize Self-Care

In your efforts to care for your family, mindfulness reminds you to care for yourself. Prioritizing self-care is essential, and as you endeavor to practice mindfulness with mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and children, you can forget to practice mindfulness personally. A mindful family requires a mindful self; if you take time to find quiet and reflective space within yourself, you’ll find that you’ll have so much more to offer your family.

As you continue to align your life, you’ll quickly discover the overlap that is certain to occur. Perhaps it is your daily yoga class that allows you to be not only a more mindful family member, but simultaneously improve your physical health. Next, we will discover how mindfulness can improve your professional life.