I'm now in full turbo to finish my new book, which is due in about ten minutes. It's on mindfulness and is called Wake the F*ck Up. It comes out at Christmas so please buy one because writing this is like a worm crawling through the Sahara and I've just left the tent. Hard isn't the word for it; I'm not complaining - and yet I am.
I'm on the chapter about babies and teaching them mindfulness, obviously through the parent. It can't do it so you have to. The baby comes in helpless, lying in its own mess unlike every other animal who automatically know how to trot, fly, swim, or gallop away. Your mommy, daddy or caregiver is the master builder when it comes to growing the baby's brain. Every sound, touch, facial expression you make is connecting and growing those neurons as a map to how he/she will turn out in the future. No pressure.
One of the first reactions after the baby's grand entrance is to imagine that he looks exactly like his father and a little of you. (In reality they don't look like either of you, they all look like smashed, bald prunes but it's in our biology to imagine they resemble daddy to ensure daddy sticks around). Also if you think there's a sign that baby's going to be a mathematical genius or a future tennis star this is also down to your imagination.
Early on you should try and see baby for what he is - not what you project on him. Nature, in the name of survival, is using everything's she's got to make you see this pink package as containing all your dreams and hope - otherwise you'd dump it. This 'thing' is the next 'you' and it will carry your genes into the future so it's in your interest to believe the baby is going to be the next Messiah. So, you're intentionally trying to see past your instincts to pay attention what's unique about him.
It's crucial to try to see and love your child as he really is and respect (unless it's dangerous) his tastes and proclivities. He doesn't need your criticism - he will get enough as he grows older. Mindfulness is about learning to tolerate your personal urges, holding them back until you react from your prefrontal cortex where you can make better decisions. If you're working from your prefrontal cortex you'll begin to feel what he feels and this is empathy. My mother thought when I came out she was like a photocopier and I was the copy; no idea I was a completely different person.
I remember I had an operation on my feet when I was a kid and I begged my mother to turn on the air conditioner; it was boiling in Chicago where bugs melted. She wouldn't do it because she said it was a waste of money, the air would just escape. I begged her; I couldn't get up, my feet were in bandages. She eventually went to the wall and pushed her finger on it, nowhere near the air conditioner and went, "Mmmmmmm" imitating the sound if it was on ... like I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Maybe someone should have given her a glove puppet rather than a child, it would have saved so much confusion.
In this new book I'll be giving mindfulness exercises not just for the baby but for kids, teenagers, older-aged along with my own version of mindfulness training, a six week course if I ever finish.
You can find my last book SANE NEW WORLD here.