People often ask me what my secret is to peace and serenity amongst the chaos of raising five children and working full time as an elementary school teacher. I'm writing this blog to share that answer with South Bay Families Connected parents. This is also a story of how my own children have benefited.
I never thought of raising mindful children as a goal of mine, it just sort of happened. I began practicing yoga and meditation upon the birth of my fifth child. I began to find an inner peace that I had never experienced before in my life. I thought, "How could this be?' I have five kids ages 12, 8, 5, 2 and a newborn.’ I became disciplined with my practice and soon sought out a yoga teacher training. About this same time, our family began to spend our summers abroad in Mexico and Costa Rica. My husband and I wanted to give our children a different experience. The summers were simpler and we spent much quality time together (24/7).
My yoga and meditation practice became a central aspect of my day, I never missed. Little did I know I was modeling for my kids ways for them to find peace. As my older kids aged into their teens, there were many instances that they would yell at me to stop chanting, as they rolled their eyes when seeing me practice. Our younger children however, were drawn to join in, so they did. My daughters and I completed a 1000 day meditation when they were 10 and 11 years old. Many of their friends joined us because we did our meditation before bed and if they spent the night with us, they joined in to meditate with us! The friends often remind me today that they still know the meditation/mantra because of their experience in our home.
Today three of my five children are certified yoga teachers, the other two practice regularly and my three grandchildren practice with their mom daily. Has a daily practice of yoga and meditation changed our family? The answer is yes and no. Do we still disagree with one another, have we struggled with decisions our children have made and are we always peaceful? The yes answer is I think that we have more moments of connectedness and are able to authentically communicate with one another. The no answer is that we can be so in touch with our feelings/emotions that we can really be stubborn with our convictions. The key is being able to have the space to share with one another and the underlying knowing of unconditional love.
Guiding my own children by example has been an amazing experience, but guiding other people’s children in the practices of mindfulness, meditation and yoga is beyond my wildest dreams. Training adults in these practices is the icing on the cake. Teaching adults to bring awareness and consciousness into their homes, one household at a time is a gift.
So these are some of my tips/secrets to a peaceful household with teens:
Clear communication (boundaries, feelings acknowledged and heard)
Bonding together as a family-eating meals together, digital detox during meals, hi’s/low’s as a starting point of conversation
supporting one another in each other’s endeavors/dreams
Being together… while doing together (presence)
Connecting daily (checking in with each and every child daily)
Respecting one another, even if we have differing opinions
Be a listener… refrain from giving unsolicited advice
Be Present in your home when your kids are home-limit your distractions
Demonstrate selfless service (seva) and invite your kids to join in
Open door policy… be the house where friends come to and observe
Danielle Radl is a mother, grandmother, elementary school teacher and yoga educator. She has written, directs and facilities a children’s yoga teacher training in Costa Rica each summer. Kids to Teens Yoga Teacher Training is a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School and Training for those who love children and want to guide them in the practices of yoga, mindfulness and meditation. Check out her website www.kidstoteenyoga.com, email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 310-999-2100 for more information.
Danielle teaches elementary aged students yoga and mindfulness weekly, adult yoga classes and teacher trainings at Yoga West Los Angeles.