Actually, Henning would like to enjoy the time with his family. But the constantly rotating head ensures constant tension. How can he find more rest?

Dear Ms Peirano,

I am 34, married and father of two small children (4 and 1). I wanted the children and should actually be happy to have two healthy children and to live in a good relationship. But I often feel stressed and overwhelmed. I often don’t get to enjoy the moments with my kids, but instead am absent with my head and brooding over work. Or I get annoyed about small things in the household and argue with my wife about it, although I actually know that it is unnecessary.

She accuses me of being very tense and having little access to my feelings. I can’t enjoy or live in the moment. She is very dissatisfied with it, because she is completely immersed in the role of mother and would like to enjoy it with me.

I feel like a troublemaker and suffer from it. But I also have no idea how I can learn to enjoy things or switch off the merry-go-round of thoughts in my head. With my parents, life was always tense and busy and I just didn’t learn to enjoy or be in the moment.

What do you advise me?

Many greetings

Henning T.

Lieber Henning T.,

it is good that you have already recognized the problem for yourself.

In our hectic, performance-oriented society with demands for constant availability and the constant flow of news (mostly threatening) it is extremely difficult to keep in touch with yourself and to calm down!

Thousands of people react to the constant sensory overload with nervous and physical stress: with sleep disorders, muscle tension, pain, stomach problems and often with hypersensitivity to stimuli. Actually, these signals from the body are warning signals that are supposed to protect our system. Just as we feel pain when we put our hand on the stovetop and the pain tells us to “take your hand away or your tissue will burn”, so the stress symptoms are warning signs of our soul to protect us from more serious damage (e.g. a burn Out or consequential physical damage such as tinnitus).

But many people are cut off from their own feelings and can no longer understand the messages their bodies are sending to protect them. Instead of being thankful, they get angry that they can no longer function the way they want to and try to continue as before. They might wish they had more rest, but they don’t know how to stop or even turn back.

Many people whose schedules are very tight (like yours) and who feel they are functioning rather than living lose access to their holistic, intuitive thinking. The majority of our thinking, namely 95-98 percent, takes place unconsciously. Only two percent of our thought processes are linear and logical!

In order to get a broader mental horizon and access to our unconscious and intuitive thinking (or rather: to regain it, because every child and every animal is born with it), it is worth training.

That’s good news! Because if you are used to dealing with task lists and systematic steps, you can also use the same system and discipline to regain inner peace and intuition. Very practical and handy. To get a clearer understanding of what I mean by intuition and holistic thinking, I recommend watching the documentary InnSae, The Power of Intuition. There you will find out what intuition is and what incredible mental achievements it makes possible in the first place.

Then there is the practical exercise. Here I recommend you to take an MBSR course. MBSR stands for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

You can see the courses in your area on the MBSR umbrella organization, for example. There are always eight evenings and a whole day of practice, in which techniques such as body scan, meditation, walking meditation, breathing meditation and pleasure training are taught. Much takes place in silence – it may seem strange at first to be silent, but after a while it is very beneficial. Basically, many of these techniques were taken from the Far Eastern spiritual schools such as Buddhism and freed from any religious or ideological components.

These courses are very useful: you learn to relax, to get in better contact with yourself and to keep it with regular practice, to enjoy, to stay in the moment more often and also to take care of yourself.

I can imagine that this access is an excellent basis for you to get closer to your sensory experience (hearing, tasting, seeing, touching) and thus more joy and peace in dealing with your children (who are exactly on this level experience the world).

Apart from that, spending a lot of time in silence and in nature is very important for developing more mindfulness. So rather not a Sunday walk where the problems of the past week are discussed, but e.g. a paddling tour on a remote canal, an overnight stay in a tent, hikes in the forest or in the mountains.

And of course it is very important not to be reachable from time to time. So turn off your computer and mobile phone, don’t consume any media, but take your time for the moment. I would almost say: the more often, the better.

I hope that these suggestions will give you enough technique to come back to yourself and live more consciously and happily. It would be best if your wife attends the course with you, because then you can motivate each other and use your imagination to invent new mindfulness techniques for your family.

Best regards

Julia Peirano