In his talk, ‘Upgrading the Mind’ for LinkedIn in 2018, Gelong Thubten, Buddhist monk, meditation teacher and bestselling author says this:
'We have this automatic association between a stressful situation and tension. We don’t plan it…It just happens, like two wires joined together…
In this [mindfulness exercise, practiced when you are forced to wait] you are joining two different wires together: stressful situation, relaxed response. Put those two together, create a new connection… you’re learning to relax against the odds. Against the grain. It means that when you’re in the bigger stresses of life, you’ve already created the habit of not going into a stress reaction, but staying calm… and then you can make the right choices.’
I’ve found this an incredibly powerful strategy when learning to respond to B's crying. I realised pretty quickly that crying is probably a good thing. He’s learning how to express himself and is well enough to ask for his needs to be met. But it can still be a struggle to emotionally connect with that thought when it looks, and feels, like he’s in crisis.
Focussing on my physiology - the floor beneath my feet, unhunching my shoulders and unclenching my jaw - and doing so whenever B cries, has helped me maintain a basis of genuine calm that B picks up on.
I’ve also begun to reframe his crying as him helping me. He’s giving me an opportunity to achieve a long term goal of mine: to maintain a meditation and mindfulness practice and so reprogramme my response to stress.
Because, after all, the crying always passes, just like my emotions pass. He feeds, he sleeps, he plays with his toys. Babies are so in tune with themselves and each moment and B is no exception. He’s giving me the opportunity to live in the now, right alongside him.