Breathing Exercises

Good Parenting: An Expert Shares How Breathwork Helps New Parents


By Elizabeth Herman I Posted on : November 17, 2020

A parenting expert shares how breathwork helps him and many new parents to raise happy and healthy children plus 8 valuable tips! Read on!

What’s your parenting style? What about your parents? What was their style? Research shows that authoritative parenting results in positive trends in a child's behavior. Whichever style you grew up with, it helps to look at your tendencies. Before your kids grow up, it’s time to decide how to handle parenthood.

In a one-on-one interview, Laxmi Thakur of the OC (Orange County) India Association interviewed Vivek Gulati, PhD and Art of Living teacher, about parenting. In his talk, “Meaningful Parenting,” he went over many techniques. You can watch the video of his parenting advice and read some questions and answers below:

What is parenting?​

Have you ever considered how cooking and gardening compare to parenting? They’re all creative processes. As Vivek says,  “When guests are coming, you put so much heart and love into cooking. People have been raising kids for generations. But with more attention, the outcome can be better. In cooking, we follow chefs and recipes. But babies aren't robots. They don’t come with user manuals. We have to figure out what to do.

It’s also like being a gardener. If you don’t do anything in the garden, what happens? Weeds grow. But if you over prune, then the plants don’t grow well, either. A balance of doing but not overdoing works for good parenting, also.”

You can also think of parenting as generosity, giving your values to the next generation. “It’s not about strategies. They’ll change from person to person,” he says. “The wisdom, essence, and human values stay. As a new parent, you realize kids come through you. They have their own lives, so they’re not ours. Our job is to give them cherished values.”

What triggered you to learn more about parenting?

Do you ever need to talk about how your life has changed with a family? Such conversations may not be available to new parents.  “In our culture there are certain things we don’t discuss,” recognizes Vivek. “When you’re young, your parents are excited about getting you married. But we don’t talk about how to make the relationship successful. 

So, the same is true with kids. There’s so much pressure. But nobody discusses how to be a successful parent by thriving, enjoying, and passing on good values to our kids

For example, a mother gets pregnant. During the pregnancy everybody’s happy. Nobody talks about postpartum depression. Nobody talks about Dad, when he’s feeling suddenly alone. 

I’ve been an Art of Living teacher for about 15 years now. Art of Living has a workshop for parents, called Know Your Child. When I first heard about it, I was curious. I trained to be a facilitator for that workshop as my first introduction to meaningful parenting. 

That was revolutionary for me. I felt blown away. Since then I’ve been more vocal about parenting skills in general.” You can learn the same way he did. Your family will be so grateful!

What changed in your parenting style after the workshop?

If you fear the unfamiliar challenges of parenthood, there are resources to demystify it for you. Vivek recalls his own fear, “When I got married, I was scared of having kids. I felt unprepared for the responsibility. So, I was asking about the child in my life. The workshop reassured me.

I gained insight about my own personality. If I don’t want to pass my issues on to my child, I need to change. Otherwise, you become the parent you swore you’d never be. 

I made a mindset change. For example, if two intelligent people get married and they have kids, will the kid be any less intelligent? What happens is we look at the small body. But we don’t recognize his or her inherent intelligence. That was a mindset shift for me. 

Even though a toddler is small, that spark of divinity or intelligence is in him. I started to honor that. For example, if there’s something he’s trying to figure out, instead of rushing to answer, I’ll wait for him to figure it out. I’ll ask him more questions so that he can understand it himself.” You may find that your child’s abilities surprise you.

Do you ever get angry?

Vivek, who laughs often, doesn’t appear to be an angry person. When asked, he admits, “Everybody gets angry. When I get angry, it doesn’t last long. Usually, what makes me angry is stress or anxiety. 

When we’re stressed, we react. If you have a daily practice, whatever stresses you’re accumulating dissolve. SKY Breath Meditation through Art of Living works to relieve stress. Then, it’s easier to laugh. If you laugh, everything goes smoothly.” 

Even when tantrums occur, you can deal with a child’s behavior by letting his or her anger cool down first. You’ll also be much happier when you let your own anger pass away fast, and use of the breath helps you do that.

How do you settle your mind?

You can help your parenting style by relating well with your partner. Vivek told a story, “One time, my wife got upset about something. We were about to enter our apartment. There was a water hose. So I sprayed some water. She got super mad. That didn’t work. But what has helped is the practices, the SKY Breath Meditation. She also does them. Even if we have a disagreement, we’ll just take two steps away and start laughing. 

You’re married. But you have your own mindset. Your parents handled situations differently than your partner’s parents. Your partner had different life experiences. Looking at the same problem, you both have your own perspectives. So disagreements arise. But you can see the bigger picture when the mind settles. You get there by meditating. That’s my secret. 

Learning SKY Breath takes about 9 hours. It’s 3 hours a day for 3 days. Kids can start to learn it at age 8. At younger ages, they don’t need it. There’s a separate workshop for older children and for teenagers. They should learn it from teachers instead of parents. 

Recently, researchers did a study on students at Yale University doing SKY Breath Meditation. They compared it to other stress reduction techniques. They found SKY Breath amazing. What it does for mental health is off the charts!” Using these tools, your family can thrive.

8 reminders about good parenting

Vivek offers 8 reminders. They’re points that each good parent should remember:

  1. Be kind to yourself and others in the family. Don’t be bossy or micromanage.

  2. Young children need a way to channel their energy. A creative project can keep them from feeling irritated or frustrated. 

  3. Don't use electronic gadgets as substitute parents. 

  4. Help kids handle anger. Pay attention to their food. Junk food creates junk in the mind. Pay attention to changing moods and monitor mental health regularly.

  5. What you give is what you get. If you make time for your kids at a young age, they’ll be more likely to make time for you later.

  6. Nurture kids’ curiosity. Be willing to answer questions and explore their interests. Expose them to the amazing world. Involve them in family activities other than TV.

  7. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. You have the ability to take care of your child. Don’t worry about past mistakes. In the long run, you’ll create a unique relationship. You’ll write your own life story.

  8. See the spark of divinity in them and you. Don’t talk like a checklist. Ask open ended questions without being pushy so they’ll open up to you.

To experience for yourself the relief from stress that SKY Breath Meditation can bring, tune in to Beyond Breath - A FREE Breath & Meditation Online Session With a Live Instructor. Your family will thank you for bringing this harmonious skill home! 

Elizabeth Herman is a long time meditator, a trained yoga teacher, and a PhD in English, with concentrations in Rhetoric and Composition, and Literature. She offers writing support to clients, teaches locally, and volunteers for a better world.

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