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The Yogi’s Guide to Getting Divorce

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In their new book, Better Apart, yoga teacher Elena Brower and attorney Gabrielle Hartley share their tips on how to emerge from divorce stronger and more resilient than before. Here, they share their thoughts on co-parenting with patience, respect, clarity, peace, and forgiveness after you separate.

If you hit relationship problems, it can be hard to co-parent with the same level of consciousness you bring to your yogic practices. But there is a way to do it. Here’s how.

For most humans, separation or divorce stirs up a steady stream of doubts, fears, insufficiencies, and rage. Days, months, and even years of unspoken worries and concerns begin surfacing, and the turmoil can seem insurmountable at first.

With regard to your parenting plan, it’s important to design an arrangement that prioritizes the physical and emotional needs of your children. When possible, always put them first. Here’s how to think about creating a co-parenting plan through the lenses of patience, respect, clarity, peace, and forgiveness.

See also Elena Brower’s Yoga Flow to Transform Tension into Forgiveness

How to co-parent with patience

In an ideal world, you and your ex will try to maintain continuity and consistency of rules and expectations between your homes, but over time, your two households will likely become more different than alike. Particularly after your children have had a chunk of time at your ex’s home, they may behave in new and unexpected ways.

Remember, your kids are managing divergent expectations in each house, and it’s your task to practice patience with them as they navigate two homes. It’s also your task to be patient with your ex, with your ex’s significant other, and especially with yourself when potentially chaotic situations arise.

Patience affords you the pause in which to consider all angles. Patience also grants you the presence to respond only after you have calmed down. And when you disagree with the other parent’s style or decisions, please speak about it during a time when you’re not heated, and definitely not in front of the kids. Practice being patient enough to note what needs to be addressed later, in a quiet, calm space, when you both have a chance to decompress and settle. Patience is like a muscle you’re developing, and practice makes perfect.

Support your children through the transition period by giving them time to process the divorce.

How to co-parent with respect

Your children’s sense of who they are depends almost entirely on how you and your co-parent respect each other. Please be mindful of what you say about their other parent, because children and teens integrate what they hear into who they are. Negative words and actions directed to or about their other parent are destructive to children.

Model respect by demonstrating it to your ex and any extended family members who enter into your children’s world. Even when you are not feeling full of respect for them, you can be respectful of the situation and of their role as your child’s parent. Stay calm and collected in the face of challenging interactions.

Ask for—don’t demand—accommodations in your parenting plan when these are necessary. If you are respectful of others, you’re more likely to be treated the same way in return.

See also Beat Frustration (and Boost Patience!) with This Balancing Yoga Sequence

Respect also means not saying what you might be thinking in front of the kids—for example, saying your child’s stepmother is limited, unattractive, and/or boring. If there are any real concerns over other members of a blended family—a stepsister appears to have a bad influence on your daughter, for example—take it up with your ex gracefully, not in the presence of your children. If you can’t resolve a serious problem to your mutual satisfaction, then it may be time to engage a parenting coordinator, your lawyer, or a mediator to begin to move forward. If necessary, revisit your lawyer and appear before a judge about changing your parenting plan.

How to co-parent with clarity

Your clearheaded assessment of your family’s needs is essential in creating a parenting plan. Once you’ve created a well-structured flow for the children, you can begin to be flexible with each other and with your kids.

Most children will have feelings and thoughts about and reactions to the custody arrangement. Support your kids through this transition by validating their feelings and giving them ample space to process. Consider taking them to a therapist who specializes in working with children whose family is in transition. Create clarity with regard to the parenting plan by sharing the details of the schedule with your kids. Take the time to listen to what your children need and pay attention to what your ex says they need.

Always keep space open for your ex and your children to say more, by asking in the moment if there is more to say, more to discuss. By listening to them in an attentive, caring way, you’re creating a template for them to do the same for you.

BETTER APART by Gabrielle Hartley and Elena Brower. 

How to co-parent with peace

Fashion a parenting plan that prioritizes peace, one that minimizes the potential for conflict in the future. Focus on your child’s best interests instead of your own needs and desires. As you’ll see in a few years, when you meet the needs of your kids, they’ll grow up well-adjusted and secure, which will help your family overall.

See also Yoga for Inner Peace: A Stress-Relieving Sequence + Daily Practice Challenge

Prioritize peace in your negotiations by verbally marking when you and your ex agree: “I’ve just noticed we’re in agreement on that!” Your calm, peaceful resonance will open the door to kindness throughout the process. By maintaining this priority in your mind and heart, even when matters are less than peaceful, you’ll make things easier.

How to co-parent with forgiveness

Forgive yourself for having a hard time. Forgive yourself for not wanting to share your children. Forgive yourself for not giving your children the nuclear family you had imagined.

Forgive yourself for having to go to work and put your kids in child care. Forgive your ex as he/she struggles with time management. Forgive your ex’s mother, who has a temper that you’re now seeing in your child. Forgive your own mother (or anyone else) when she can’t stop lamenting your failure. And if you’re thinking now about your own family’s version of these examples, be sure to revisit your parenting plan to minimize conflict and facilitate forgiveness going forward. When you forgive, you open your heart to true, abiding compassion.

See also 5 Poses to Help You Reconnect With Your Partner After a Miscommunication



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Balance

8 Times Presidents Sounded Like Yogis

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B.K.S Iyengar or J.F.K? Yogic wisdom can inspire a class – and a country.

Being a yogi requires patience, perseverance, and passion. So does running a country. This Presidents Day, reflect on these 8 quotes from past Presidents that encourage people to challenge themselves.

See also How to Lead in Challenging Times

 



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9 Healthiest (and Trendiest) Places Every NYC Yogi Loves

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Don’t miss one (or more!) of these healthy hot spots the next time you’re in the big apple.

Planning a visit to the big apple and want to know where to practice, eat, and play? This New York City travel guide for yogis has everything from non-toxic manicures to acupuncture.

Looking to make your next trip to New York City a health- and wellness-focused getaway? Good news: There is no shortage of yoga studios, vegan food options, non-toxic beauty spots, and more to check out in the big apple. If you’re planning a sometime soon, here’s a list of the trendiest spots every NYC-based yogi loves.

See also 8 Most Romantic Yoga Retreats To Take Your Sweetie



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7 Simple Ways to Be Your Own Valentine Today—and Any Day

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When was the last time you treated yourself as well as you treat everyone else?

Flying solo this Valentine’s Day? Here are seven simple ways to show yourself some love, even if you don’t have a significant other in your life to celebrate the holiday.

I used to have a vision board in my living room with the words in huge letters emblazoned across the top: “All of me loves all of you.” This was a non-negotiable in calling in my forever partner. The problem was thatI did not yet love all of me, and as I learned through the years of many Mr. Wrongs, we only attract people who love us as much as we love our selves.

For a long time, I was searching for someone(thing) to complete me, when what I really needed was to learn how to be whole on my own. I am now married to the man of my dreams. (Scratch that, I could not have dreamt him up, because I did not yet know that I deserved to be loved as much as he loves me.) It took a lifetime of personal work and self-love practices to finally understand that a good partner does not complete us—they complement us.

You see, the real love story of our lives is the one we have with our selves.

See also 5 Poses to Inspire More Self-Love, Less Self Smack-Talk

So, how do we remember this when every store and advertisement is blasting the messaging that Valentine’s Day is a holiday for couples? By letting this holiday be a celebration of love. Love of others and love for ourselves.

Some people have deemed V-day Singles Awareness Day, which is a great way to take the day back. It is also helpful to do a little digging into history of the holiday. As it turns out, while we have all heard of St. Valentine, for whom the holiday is named, there may have in fact been multiple St. Valentines, and each has a different day of celebration. Translation: While society chooses to honor February 14th as Valentine’s Day, there are numerous other dates in the calendar that could count. What does this mean for us? The date is arbitrary. Everyday can, and should, be a day of love.

So, here’s an idea: How about this Valentine’s Day, you be your own valentine. Give yourself a hug. Hold your own hand. And if that sounds weird, you should be doing these things every single day. Self-love is not selfish or indulgent. When we love ourselves, we are more loving in the world. The kinder we are, the kinder those are around us can be.

Our yoga practice reminds us that we are already perfect exactly was we are and when we can embrace every aspect of our selves, others can, too. Here are some ideas for the perfect self-care day to celebrate self-love this Valentine’s Day, and every day.

See also 5 Poses to Help You Stand in Your Own Power

Positive affirmations are a powerful way to change your view of yourself.

Look yourself lovingly in the eyes. Mirror affirmations are positive statements spoken aloud while looking into one’s reflection. They are a powerful way to change your view of yourself. You receive messaging all day long, whether you are conscious of it or not. Every time a bus passes or an ad plays on TV or you scroll through your social media feeds, you are receiving information. Most of that information comes with the messaging that you are not enough. Hear/read/see this enough and you start to believe it. Positive affirmations rewire your brain. Studies are now showing that this work improves self-esteem and strengthens your ability to combat negative stimuli, such as stress or others’ negativity. My favorite statement comes from the Queen of positive quotes, Louise Hay: “I am worth loving. There is love all around me.”

Go to the water. Water is the element of emotions and feelings—and the strongest and most powerful feeling is love. On this day, it is therapeutic to use the element of water to immerse yourself in love. If you live near the sea or a lake, go to the shore. If you are near a river, find a place along the edge. If you have access to a pool, dive in. If you are unable to get to any of these bodies of water, take a long soak in a bath. Soaking in water is a way to cultivate union with the deeper parts of our selves and with the world around us. When we are sad, we cry. When we exercise hard, we sweat. When we laugh, we tear. Allow the water to wash love all over you.

See also Recognize Your Strength with this 10-Minute Guided Meditation

Take yourself to a yoga class. Yoga is a unique activity in that it can be practiced in a group, but it is also an individualized experience. When you are feeling lonely or in need of connection, going to class is a wonderful way to feel a part of something—even when you’re flying solo. Moving as a collective and being in something together automatically cultivates a feeling of unity. I travel the world alone a lot and generally do home practices. When I am in need of company or craving connection, I go to a public yoga class—even if I do not speak the native language. There is something about breathing and sweating as a collective that reminds us that we are all connected, no matter how alone we sometimes feel.

Get a massage. The benefits of massage are numerous, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving sleep, digestion, and immunity. Often the resistance to getting one is financial, but there is no need to go to a fancy spa to get a good massage. Sometimes a $10 foot massage at your local nail salon can be just as impactful. Treating yourself to something nice also sends a deeper message of being cared for to your unconscious. You are your own caretaker. Just as acts of kindness from strangers can change your day, being kind to yourself can have an enormous impact as well.

Try simple ways of treating yourself on Valentine’s Day.

Buy yourself flowers. When I was 17 years old, my sister bought me my first plant. She said it was going to teach me how to take care of myself. Soon after she gave it to me, I accidentally knocked it out the window of my 3floor dorm room. How is that for symbolic? I felt terrible, but a desire was ignited in me to take better care of my things and myself. Unfortunately, I do not have the best green thumb. I tried having plants in my apartment, but they would always die. I even tried fake plants. After a very hard breakup years later, I wanted to do something nice for myself, so I started buying myself fresh flowers every week. Having living organisms in your home ushers in prana, or energy. You can feel the life force emanating around you.

See also 5 Simple Ways to Fall Back in Love with Your Yoga Practice

Take yourself to the movies. There is nothing I love more than going to the movies by myself. No arguing over what film to see. No one asking questions or chewing loudly next to you, making it hard to hear. And you get to eat allthe popcorn! While it takes courage at first to do things by yourself, it also teaches you how to be comfortable in your own skin. The more content you are on your own, the less likely you’ll be to seek validation from others. It is easy to be swayed by a group. To worry about other’s opinions and to lose sight of our true desires. Without other people around, you learn to hone your own our choices and opinions.

Order in and don’t forget the dessert. Cap your day off by ordering in from your favorite restaurant. Eating alone is a great opportunity to practice mindful eating. When you’re not distracted by company or devices, you can be much more present with the taste of your food. You’re more likely to eat more slowly and chew every morsel more thoroughly when you’re not speaking. It is also nice to journal when dining alone. The temptation will be to reach for your phone and distract yourself with social media or texting friends. Try not to do that. Instead, relish the time to connect more deeply to yourself. Ponder questions like, “What am I grateful for?” or “If I could do anything, what would I do?” Give yourself a compliment by answering the question, “What do I love most about myself?” Just don’t forget the dessert!

See also These Photos of Famous Yogis will Inspire You to Find Your Light



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