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.
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.
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.
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
One Yoga Teacher's 3 Lessons We Could All Learn About Making Money
Yoga and abundance don’t always feel like they belong together. One yoga teacher shares the lessons she learned about accepting wealth and tearing down financial barriers that weren’t serving her.
As I watched the snow fall into the hot tub at the retreat center I was visiting, nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, I found myself thinking, How did I get this luxury?! Taking four days off to indulge at a hot springs in the mountains while learning from my yoga mentor seemed like a far cry from my start as a yoga teacher. Being underpaid was a regular occurrence when I first started teaching. Struggling to buy groceries, trips to the gas station hoping that I didn’t go over the twenty dollars I had in my wallet, and not being able to afford health care (gulp) were discomforts I grew strangely accustomed to.
I was extremely passionate about teaching yoga and I loved doing it, but my bank account did not match my passion as an instructor. As much as I would like to blame corporations, point my finger at capitalism, and gnash my teeth at the unfair nature of my soulful work being so undervalued, the truth is that my value as a teacher was already at a deficit before I even stepped foot into a yoga studio.
See also 10 Business Secrets to Starting a Successful Yoga Career
When I followed the thread that led me to being a “poor yoga teacher,” I could trace it all the way back to the old sayings that were instilled in my absorbent young brain as a child: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “You have to work hard for money.” Or the most insidious, “Good people don’t need money.”
These seeds grew in my subconscious at a slow and steady rate. Over time, they became my reality, and as my yoga career developed, so did my belief that money meant struggle.
See also A 5-Minute Meditation To Relieve Financial Stress
I said “yes” to unpaid yoga gigs. I constantly bustled across town from one teaching job to the next. And I watched as my own practice fell to the wayside because teaching at a high volume was siphoning all my time and energy.
Finally I hit a bottom. I was fed up with scraping by, and I knew something had to change. I realized that if I wanted abundance, I needed to make a choice. That choice was to start shifting my perspective around money so that that I could not only heal my relationship with money, but also welcome prosperity into my life.
See also A Katonah Yoga Sequence To Live A More Abundant Life
There were three critical things that shifted the tide for me, and I know they can help any teacher looking to give themselves a raise.
1. Realize that spirituality means abundance
When you go into class and speak the word “abundance,” can you honestly say that you are feeling it in all areas of your life? Chaining yourself to the idea that being spiritual means financially struggling can disrupt the abundance that is waiting for you. When you accept that financial abundance and spirituality can have a thriving working relationship, it will reflect in your spirit—and your bank account! Take it from visionary Maya Angelou, who said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive”.
See also The Yoga of Money: Take Wisdom from the Mat to Your Finances
2. Get crystal clear on your teaching intention
For some people, teaching a full load of 15 classes a week can strain your health and your capacity to serve. As in any other business, it can take time to build a network and establish a presence in the yoga space. Figure out a teaching strategy that will fulfill you and help maintain your sanity—not detract from it. Do you see yourself teaching full time? Does having a full-time job while teaching two to three classes sound fulfilling? Get clear on what is right for YOU. The way I figured this out was by getting support from a business coach and community I trusted so that I could navigate how to market myself and speak effectively about my services.
See also Live + Practice From the Heart: Identify True Intention
3. Seek great mentorship
One of the most pivotal steps you can take to open to financial abundance is to seek guidance from other successful yogis. Learning from others who gained wisdom and experience from walking a path before me allowed me to understand the paths available to me. Just like your daily local teacher, learning from someone who knows the ropes is so much easier than trying to figure it out yourself. I also sought guidance from business mentors and like minded women who were committed to living on purpose that could teach me how to offer my gifts, live my purpose, and get the structure I needed to financially sustain myself. Look for local clubs, meetups, and other networking opportunities in which you’ll be able to make valuable connections in the community.
See also A Yoga Teacher’s Guide to Social Networking
Just like yoga, stretching your financial container can cause some discomfort. Just like the journey of yoga, the path to feeling ease and grace with our money values starts from within. With a clear vision and the right tools and support, knowing and claiming your worth as a yoga teacher is totally possible!
8 Poses to Feel Empowered and Sexy
Try an affirmation practice to create a more satisfying sex life and spiritual life.
When I was going through a divorce 10 years ago, I used affirmation practices to try to shift my mindset during the healing process. One phrase I repeated often was “I am beautiful.”
As silly and simple as this may sound, it really helped me. Failing at a marriage is very painful and I carried a lot of judgments about myself, especially since I had been the first in the family to get a divorce. Walking around each day with this affirming thought, even if I didn’t believe it in the beginning, was life-changing. It helped me realize that my words and thoughts are powerful and that I’m in control of how I feel about myself. I began walking with confidence and maintaining a sense of calm in my communication and interactions. In addition to the affirmation practices, I started studying in the Bhagavad Gita and began to apply some of the teachings to my relationships, including in the bedroom. It took several years, but I began to develop a healthier relationship with myself and my sexuality. I learned how to break down my sexual walls and release judgment and fear to become my gorgeous, badass self from within.
I’ve learned that having sex and feeling sexy can and should come from the purest space. That will create the most euphoric and pleasurable experience for both you and your partner. I now teach “Sattvic and Sexy” workshops and courses because I want to help more women tap into this empowering space where they can stop harshly judging themselves or suppressing their sexuality.
See also “Three Things Divorce Taught Me About Love”
Sattva is the highest of the three gunas (mental qualities) in Ayurveda. It means pure, poised, or objective. The lower two gunas are tamas and rajas. Tamas is a mental state of inertia, dullness, or laziness. Rajas is associated with mental agitation and hectic activity. We need rajas to move us away from tamas, but our ultimate goal is to move into sattva. If you’re passionate about something or someone but you’re overthinking, emotional, or getting caught in your head, then there’s an attachment and you’re in rajas. If you have passion from a pure place and it doesn’t control you, then you’re sattvic.
See also How a Sattvic (Pure) Diet Brings You Into Balance + 2 Ayurvedic Recipes
To start feeling more empowered, sexy, and content in your life and relationships, try this 8-pose sequence. Each posture is paired with an affirmation to inspire you to become the best version of yourself, both as a lady and a lover, so you can create the sex life and the spiritual life you deserve.
Then, join me for a free “Sattvic and Sexy” webinar on April 10 at 2:30 EST. I’ll share more tips for developing a healthier relationship with yourself, your sexuality, and your partner. Register today!
A Mindful Parenting Practice to Help You Be Present—and Enjoy the Daily Moments of Motherhood
By exploring mindfulness you can learn to be present through the magic (and chaos) of raising kids.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could start each day alone, overlooking the ocean with a cup of coffee or meditating quietly in your garden? Or maybe journaling while cozied up in bed with a cup of tea sounds like perfection to you. Whatever your ideal scenario — if it were possible, it might help you have a deeper sense of calm to carry with you throughout the day.
If you’re a mother, your mornings probably don’t start out quite like that. Instead of calm there’s chaos, instead of peace there’s exhaustion, instead of timeliness there’s rushing. And while it might not be feasible to take a few moments alone, you can bring mindfulness into your day and practice the art of being present:
Set a goal to be mindful today and throughout this week. Notice (without judgment) how your body feels upon waking. Are you tired or achy? Are you feeling great? Allow yourself a few deep breaths — in and out — before your feet hit the floor, and remind yourself that today is a new day.
See also The Gift of “I Don’t Know”: How Mary Beth LaRue Is Embracing Life’s Uncertainties
No matter how overwhelmed you feel or how long your to-do list is, you can set aside this time to observe your life and your children and to simply notice.
Notice your child’s first facial expression of the morning. Notice the warmth of your first sip of coffee or tea and how the steam feels on your face. Notice the feeling of your child’s body and weight in your arms. Feel the warm water and soap on your skin as you wash your hands for the first time today. While the big firsts in your child’s life play a significant role in making memories and reaching milestones, you’ll discover many other firsts if you allow yourself to be in the moment.
As you shift into mom mode for the day, observe your child through the lens of curiosity. Does she want to be close to you or to play independently? Is he trying something new and waiting for your encouragement?
While you explore this concept of being present, what are you recognizing about your child? Do her facial expressions change when she is really focusing on something? Do his eyes narrow as he scans the pages when you read books together? Does his voice change when he gets really excited?
See also Yoga for Moms: Letting Go of Mom Guilt
As mothers, we need these mindfulness skills to refocus our attention where it is needed most.
We all need those gentle reminders to live in the now. In difficult times, stop and ask yourself, “Am I here?” “Am I experiencing this moment?” Sure, some of these moments will include piles of dishes and unfinished tasks at work, but when you are fully experiencing your life, you see with a new level of depth and awareness.
We invite you this week to take the time to find stillness each morning and create a rhythm of coming back to the present and noticing what’s before you . . . in all its guts and the glory.
Your attention may wander, and you may forget to call upon this practice, but that’s exactly why it’s called practice. At any point in the day, mindfulness can help bring you back to the present and provide a new opportunity to spend beautiful, undistracted moments with your children and your life. It’s these everyday moments that make up our entire lives — may we revel in them together.
Give yourself fifteen minutes to pause and revel in this experience of noticing the wonder that is your life.
- Find somewhere to sit or lie down where you can feel relaxed. Take a second to get settled and then begin by taking three or four deep breaths.
- Close your eyes if that feels natural to you. Allow yourself to appreciate the silence. Appreciate how good it feels to be by yourself. Appreciate the space you need away from the day-to-day to be able to honor the beauty of your life.
- Now, sort through some memories. Bring yourself back to the very minute you came face-to-face with your child. Allow yourself to feel that wonder again. Remember saying to yourself, “Is this real?”
- Recall when you heard your child say “Mama” for the first time. Where were you? What season was it? Let yourself revel in how special that made you feel. These moments will forever be yours.
- As you take this time and settle into your meditation, reflect on the wonder and magic of your life and simply breathe. With each inhale, breathe in the beauty of all these sweet memories and hold the inhale for an extra moment while you savor them. With each exhale, smile softly and allow these precious moments to soothe you. Repeat, slowly inhaling and exhaling.
Come back to this meditation any time you feel like you’ve lost the magic of motherhood. Bring back the joy-filled, real memories of your journey and open your eyes up to the small, everyday moments of wonder around you. The magic is always here.
See also 4 Breathing Exercises to Help Kids (and Adults) Manage Their Emotions
ABOUT OUR AUTHOR
Rachel Gorton is the business development director at Motherly, and a contributor to the new book, THIS IS MOTHERHOOD: A Motherly Collection of Reflections + Practices (Sounds True, on sale March 12, 2019) by Jill Koziol and Liz Tenety, edited by Colleen Temple. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and three children.
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