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SUMMARY- Join Carly and Vivek as they discuss micro meditations and how practice can support your ability to stay calm when you're in the thick of it. Vivek shares why self-compassion is so important, and the power of curiosity in supporting your children throughout their lives.

You can find Vivek by following on his page, Meaningful Ideas and also Gentle Parents Unite on Facebook or website.

Full Episode Transcript: 

Carly:
The Beyond Sleep Training Podcast- a podcast dedicated to sharing real tales of how people have managed sleep in their family outside of sleep training culture because sleep looks different with a baby in the house and because every family is different there is no one-size-fits-all approach to take.
I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this podcast is being recorded, the Kalkadoon people, I pay my respects to the elders of this nation and the many other nations our guests reside in from the past, present and emerging. We honour Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, water and seas as well as their rich contributions to society including the birthing and nurturing of children.

Carly:
And welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host, Carly Grubb, and with me today I have Vivek Patel who’s come back for a second episode with us. He, if you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, I’d encourage you to go back and listen to that one first because it will give you the lead up story to where Vivek and I will take the episode today. So, welcome back Vivek.

Vivek:
Thank you.

Carly:
It’s wonderful to have you here, and I am still actually getting my head around this whole idea of the iceberg imagery in my head.

Vivek:
Uh huh.

Carly:
Because I know for me that that whole frustration that you feel when you’ve decided that, you know, you can be so sure, you know, your baby, you might be trying to follow all their lead and… and you can see that they’re getting tired, and yet you’re not having any luck at all and you can feel that building for you.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
What would you say is a good way to catch yourself in that moment and then perhaps unpack it a bit more to see what might be lying underneath that iceberg?

Vivek:
Yeah, for sure. I love that… I love that idea of catching it in the moment, because that’s where so much of the moment to moment power comes in. You know? I think there’s… there’s like a philosophic side of it where we think this is how I want to do things, but then in the moment that can fall apart, you know, because we have our own reactions and stuff, and I’m still… I still go through that after… after, you know, 25 years of practising this. So, the in the moment stuff is really important. And I think one of the things for in the moment is we can prepare for the moment when we’re not in the moment, and I think that’s really helpful. And one of the things that I teach parents, which I developed organically in my own experience from having to deal with that, is I call it the three micro-practices, which I’d like to share with you. The… the first one is, well the three of them are the micro-meditation, the micro-self-compassion, and the micro-self-observation. And so, the micro-meditation is a one breath meditation. And I love it because it’s the shortest possible meditation. I mean I suppose you could do a half a breath, but it’s the shortest possible meditation that you can do. You don’t have to sit with incense and candles for, you know, and a gong for a half hour in lotus position. It’s really just taking one breath. And so, what I do is when I’m practicing it, so I practice it in different moments, in non-intense moments. So, I practice it when I’m washing the dishes, or I practice it when I’m picking up a toy off the floor, or I practice it when I’m opening a door. And I’ll just stop for a moment, like if I’m opening a door I’ll just, I’ll have my hand on the doorknob and instead of turning it right away I’ll feel the texture of the doorknob, I’ll feel my feet on the ground. And I’ll just close my eyes and I’ll go (inhales, exhales). And then I go on, and that’s it. You know? And then I’ll do it again and I’ll do it again. And what happens is in the moment when I’m feeling frustrated, because I’ve been practising this it comes to me in that moment, and I’m about to be frustrated and I can feel the tension and I’ll go (inhales, exhales) and I’m able to centre again. And the second one is, so taking a breath. Basically the short form or way is taking a breath. But I like thinking of it as a micro-meditation because it’s really like, then it’s not just a breath, it’s a conscious beath, it’s a breath that connects me with myself, it connects me with my inner silence. And because I have practiced it a little bit it connects me to all those moments of practice. That’s the beautiful thing about practice. Today I wrote in a response to someone, I said, ‘Practice is a lifelong practice.’ And I really like that. And I love practice. As a martial artist and a dancer, you know, practice is something so… so vital. And so practising the micro-mediation really helps. The second is micro-self-compassion. And micro-self-compassion is really powerful. Self-compassion is really powerful because when we are compassionate with ourselves, oh, it settles our system in a way. You know? Because we can have so much judgement for ourselves. So much wrongness. Especially if we’re trying to be gentle parents and then we yell and we get frustrated. You know? [5:00] And then we like come down on ourselves and we can feel really terrible, and then we think why am I even a parent? I don’t… my kid doesn’t even deserve… I don’t deserve it. You know? They don’t… when we’re saying they don’t deserve to have me as a parent, that sounds like… that’s sounds the opposite of what I’m trying to say. They don’t deserve me. You don’t deserve to have me as a parent. I don’t know what I mean. I mean the opposite.

Carly:
I know what you mean. I know what you mean.

Vivek:
You know what I mean. Everybody knows what I mean.

Carly:
Yeah.

Vivek:
And… and so, we can get caught up in that kind of stuff, and so the micro…

Carly:
Spiral. It really spirals, doesn’t it?

Vivek:
It’s such a downward spiral. You know, and self-compassion turns a downward spiral into an upward spiral. And I love the upward spiral. I talk about the upward spiral all the time. We can… we can choose to shift downward spirals into upward spirals with a few different mindset shifts. And so the… the self-compassion, what happ… the micro-self-compassion, again I practice it throughout the day. So, like let’s… both in challenging moments and in beautiful, happy moments. I’ll take a moment and I’ll just say, Vivek, you’re doing okay. You’re trying your best. You’re dealing with a lot. You know? I have a moment of kindness to myself. I’m here for you. I love you. You know, I care about you. You’re… you’re… you’re a loving person. And I’ll say things like that to myself. Right? But again, it’s just one. Like, let’s say I’m trying to open a jar of pickles. This happens you me. I try and open a jar of pickles and it won’t open, and I twist a little harder and I get frustrated and I’m like, errr. And that errr is frustration at failure. Like, why, why did I fail? Why can’t I do this. Life is getting to me again, and it’s another thing that’s obstructing me in my life, and I’m failing again. I mean it’s just pickles, Vivek. Right? But no, it’s more than pickles. Right?

Carly:
Yeah, it’s more.

Vivek:
And it’s always more than pickles.

Carly:
That goes back to the iceberg, doesn’t it?

Vivek:
Thank you. That’s exactly it. And this is one of the things that the self-compassion does, is it makes us aware of our own iceberg and give us compassion for us having this huge iceberg. I mean I was 28 when my kid came along. I had a lot of years of pain and struggle. You know, I talked in the last episode about my… my upbringing was very, very challenging and violent in a lot of ways, and being bullied and picked on quite relentlessly in junior high school. And just on and on and  on. And so, all of that stuff was in me. Right? And so, the micro-self-compassion gives me that moment of saying, you know, it’s okay that you’re struggling, Vivek. You’re human. I call myself a mistake making machine, because it reminds me that that’s a part of being human. You know?

Carly:
Absolutely. If you’re not making mistakes, you can hardly be living.

Vivek:
Yeah. Exactly. And I say if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not on your learning edge.

Carly:
Oh yeah. That’s…

Vivek:
And I always want to be on my learning edge.

Carly:
Yeah. And I’m just thinking with the self-compassion side of things too, it’s very much – because when you’re a parent, and especially with a little person, it can feel realty lonely because so much of what’s going on is… is, you know, done relatively privately. And so being able to be a witness for yourself, for the struggle that you’re in, or the challenges you’re facing, but also how well you’re actually doing, sometimes you can only be your own witness, because you’re the only person there who can do that. So, it’s really powerful, that self-compassion element.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
For what’s so often unseen effort.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah. For sure. That’s exactly it. And, you know, if you’re trying to be a gentle parent in a society that you’re surrounded with people telling you to set limits on your kid and set boundaries on your kid and give consequences to your kid, it feels even more lonely because there’s nobody you can really turn to. You know? Like when I was… when we were going through it, not only could I not turn to anybody, everybody was always criticising us. You know? Because…

Carly:
Well, they’re waiting for you. They’re waiting to hear that you’re having trouble so they can tell you this is why. Oh yeah.

Vivek:
Exactly. That’s exactly it.

Carly:
Yeah, unfortunately that’s still definitely a challenge many families are facing, and it’s really unfair because…

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
… being able to voice your struggles should be something that you can do in safety. But for many people there’s very few places where they can safely express how they’re feeling about their situation without being attacked.

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. For sure. And I had a… I had a parent crying to me about that just last night. You know? And we spent an hour together. And, you know, I would say 50 minutes of the hour was… was holding space for that… for that pain. You know? We didn’t jump into solutions right away. It was really about, you know, creating that space of compassion, holding compassionate space for the struggle. So the micro-self… I mean I also, I’ve mentioned before that I do a meditation every Friday and one of the… for the - for the people in my membership group - and one of the meditations is self-compassion meditation. We spend the whole hour giving ourselves self-compassion. Right? We do one for the… one for the body, where we give our bodies… different parts of our body compassion and love, and we do one for ourselves, and we do it for the adult self and we do it for the child self and we have all these different ways of doing it. But the micro-self-compassion is just a… is just a moment. You know? [10:00] And so, you practice that, so then again in the moment you take that, you’re feeling frustrated, you take that breath. (Inhales). And you say it’s reasonable that I would be frustrated right now. Of course, it’s reasonable. I’m human. You don’t have to go on and on because you don’t really have time in that moment. Right? It’s just that much. And the third one is the micro-self-observation. And it’s a little bit different. The self-observation is where I see myself from kind of outside my body, and I imagine that I can see. I’m like… I’m like, so right now I’m talking. Now I’m watching myself talk. It’s a little different because I’m noticing myself and I can see my posture and I notice my hand moving, and I’m like noticing things I wouldn’t notice when I’m just in it. So, the micro-self-observation is I just take moments throughout the day where I try and observe myself. And I observe not only myself but my environment and kind of the system that I’m in. I observe my kid. Because observing my kid from inside my head is a little bit different than observing me and my kid from outside, and it gives me this other… I won’t say objective, but let’s say less involved in a way, or less… I don’t know what the right word for it is.

Carly:
Removed. Like, it’s a step away a little bit.

Vivek:
That’s exactly it. And then I can kind of see. Because then I see myself. I’m not like not valuing myself by… I’m not like distancing myself. It’s not that kind of observation. But I’m seeing myself and I’m seeing my kid and I… so, the self-observation really helps because then we notice I’m getting tense right now, I’m about to yell. You may not notice that without the self-observation. Right? Or even, I’m about to… I’m about to, even… not even yell necessarily. That I’m about to make a choice that’s going to be disconnecting, make a choice that’s going to make my kid feel less safe. And then I, those three, so we practice those three during the day, and then in the moment they come out almost rapid fire. I notice, so the self-observation happens usually first. I notice first. And then I take that breath, and then I give myself a moment of compassion, and all of that, if you practice all of that can happen within a second or two. And that helps us re… rebalance ourselves. You know? And I find that is an incredible… the parents that I work with on a weekly basis, when they practice this, they actually find that it has a transformative power on the way that they respond to their kids. All of a sudden, they find that they’re noticing these… like when the yell is coming they’re noticing it way earlier than they would have otherwise. You know? And catching those things earlier, it gives us a huge… a huge edge on… on our… on choosing our reactions. And then…

Carly:
Absolutely, and especially like once it kind of tips past the point, like that’s, you know, there’s plenty of occasions where I’ve tipped past the point, and I’ve really needed to walk away.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Regroup myself. Whereas if you can kind of catch it that little bit beforehand you might not have even needed to do the walk away. The walk away is a legitimate option if you’ve gone like, you know, that’s always an option if you  need to get some space.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
But…

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
… ideally wouldn’t it be great if you could catch it long before you get to that point?

Vivek:
Yeah. And that’s a practice, for sure. I used to run… I used to call it run. I’d say, ‘Run, Vivek!’ As soon as I would notice it, I wouldn’t notice it even a little bit and I knew I was past that point, I would run. I would even if it would like shock my kid. I would rather her shocked about that than shocked with me yelling at her. Right? So, I’d run into the bedroom, I would bury my face in the pillow, and I would scream into my pillow, thrash around on the bed. Literally I did this on a regular basis, thrash around on the bed. That pillow saw a lot. If that pillow could talk. I often wonder where that pillow is now. I really do. And… and so, and then I would come out, or I would go into the bathroom, and I would soak my head in cold water. That was the other one that I would do.

Carly:
Yes, splashing face. Yep.

Vivek:
And…

Carly:
I was also, grass under my toes. Had to go outside and just stand. I needed grass. Like, it was very… I used… I would do the bolt out the door.

Vivek:
Yeah, I like that.

Carly:
Otherwise, bare feet, grass on my toes.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah. For sure. And I think there’s a lot of… I think that’s one of the beautiful things is we can take these ideas and then we can figure out for own temperaments what really works for us. Right? What will help me in that moment.

Carly:
Yeah. What feels good for you.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
What would actually give you that… help you to stop the downward spiral and start to work back up again.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly it. Yeah.

Carly:
Amazing. It’s good to know, I think for people listening along, that you can hear, even somebody who practices these things and you’ve had so much experience with it…

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah.

Carly:
There were still times when you went past the point, and you needed to go to your next level of leaving the room.

Vivek:
Oh goodness, yeah.

Carly:
And having a good scream, because I think that’s another bit where we kind of get the message that if we’re really good at this gentle parenting business we’re not going to do that anymore.

Vivek:
Right.

Carly:
But it’s not always the case.

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. For sure, because humans are… we’re complex beings, you know? And our emotions are complex. You know, very complex, multi-dimensional. Our emotions live in our bodies, they’re in our minds. There’s a mental component, an emotional component, a physical component. Our kids remind us of our own childhood, and that’s very challenging. And then we’re reminded of our parents, and often when a parent and a child are arguing [15:00] it’s not an adult and a child, it’s like two 4-year-olds arguing. Right? It’s the inner 4-year-old and the outer 4-year-old arguing.

Carly:
Yep.

Vivek:
And so, it’s like there’s a lot of complex stuff happening, and so that’s why like having… you can’t, we can’t not make a mistake. We can’t not lose it. You know? It’s just not… it’s not… it’s hardly possible I will say. You know? And like it…

Carly:
It’s impossible. No one’s perfect.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly it.

Carly:
Not to mention that’s not a good model for our children either. If we…

Vivek:
Right.

Carly:
If we are this picture of calm skating across the surface all of their lives how are they going to be feeling as whole humans as well when they can’t maintain that kind of level themselves?

Vivek:
Right. Yeah.

Carly:
So, I’ve seen that range of emotion in their person is also important.

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. And the key for us is… the key for the way I think is that when I express my big emotions to, in front of my kid, I want to make it feel, as much as possible, safe for them. Because if it feels unsafe then they’re actually learning the opposite. They’re actually learning that emotions are unsafe. Right? So, there’s like a balance there.

Carly:
Yeah.

Vivek:
There’s an amount, there’s a way and an amount to express our feelings vulnerably and honestly with our kids where they learn that this is how humans work, and there’s a way to do it where they learn like, I’d better shut off my emotions because it’s clearly not safe. And that’s what happened to me. It took me years to reclaim my ability to feel. I was such an emotional young… young kid. I asked my mum about it, you know, and I was a very emotional… I had a lot of emotions as a young person. Crying and like… and then, but at some point I really shut all of that down. You know? And through my teen years and into my early 20s, in a lot of ways I shut a lot of that down. And so, I knew then I, in order to reclaim it, in order to open myself back up to it, I had to go through a conscious process of bringing that back into my life. And now I cry at the drop of a hat. You know? I’m very emotional. I’m an emotional guy and I can see that emotional vulnerability as a strength now, which I couldn’t see it when I was younger. You know? And… and so, I really want to…  to make sure that that’s something that I help parents with. Also, like really honouring their emotions and feeling them so that they don’t feel bad about them too, because I don’t want… shame doesn’t help us. You know? One of my sayings is change does not require shame. And shame is like a, is a killer for us when we’re, you know, on a path of… of wanting to grow and learn about ourselves, and then we make mistakes and we just, it’s just, it’s terrible. So, I would much rather… I would much rather that I learn to be compassionate with myself about my mistakes so my kid learns to be compassionate, and then the re… the reconnection process is so powerful, you know? Like my kid and I would have, even to this day we have lots of disconnections that happen. It’s part of just being human. You know? I have  my thoughts. She has her thoughts. I have my perspective. She has her perspective. And they bump up against each other. But after many years we have a faith in each other, we have a trust in each other that we’ll get through it, because we’ve done the reconnection process so many times, and done it really effectively, and done it with a lot of patience and compassion, that we both know that that’s going to happen. You know? Sometimes like, when I’m like harsh with her – because it still happens , even now it happens – when I’m harsh with her or something I’m like, she’s never… she’s going to hate me. You know? I get this like terror in me and I’m like, ‘No, Vivek. Trust your relationship. Trust the process.’ And then I have to calm little Vivek who was rejected over and over again. So, then like the feeling is valid. It’s not like I’m imagining it. It’s a real feeling. So, then I guide little Vivek back to a place of centre, then I go to her and I say, ‘Hey, let’s talk about this.’ And then we can talk about it, and we can… she shares her stuff, I share my stuff, and we really have this way of… And now she’s 24 she really honours my… my emotional state too. She holds a lot of space for  my emotional state. You know, it’s amazing. It’s not something that I ever expected her to do or wanted her to do in the sense of like, you know, she had to do it. But it became a natural outgrowth of being treated that way, having the experience of someone consistently holding space. You know? I don’t call it unconditional acceptance, I call it minimally conditional acceptance, because it’s never going to be unconditional. But I always strove for as minimally condition acceptance as possible. Now she reflects that back to me, and it’s such a beautiful… we have such a beautiful dynamic now. And actually when we… now as a 24 year old, when we go out and interact with people a lot of the time we have to pull out our IDs to prove that we’re father and child, father and daughter, because people just don’t believe it because they don’t see adult children and their parents interacting the way we do, because we’re just like cool with each other. You know? We’re friends. And it’s such a bizarre thing for people. And… and so…

Carly:
I think for, like people listening along, that’s a beautiful thing to hear too, for… for how a relationship can shape up over a… because, you know, for most people listening along they’ve got tiny babies in their family right now.

Vivek:
Right. Yeah.

Carly:
And so, to hear, you know, 24 hour… 24 hours? 24 years later the relationship…

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
… it’s continued to evolve from those very early roots that you laid down when she was an infant…

Vivek:
Yeah. [20:00]

Carly:
… right through her growing experience. It’s a beautiful thing.

Vivek:
Yeah, for sure.

Carly:
I’m really… I’m really interested to hear, just for… for, we’ve only got about ten minutes left, but I know in episode 1, one thing that I didn’t get to ask you about that I…

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
… might be really hard for you to recall, because I know this is a very long time ago.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
But we were… you were talking about how you tweaked and changed and tried lots of different things as she grew.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
What were some of the things that actually helped you and your wife help her find sleep when she was tiny?

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. That’s a great, great question, and I will dredge up my memory files from the… from the computer.

Carly:
It’s alright if they’re a little blurry.

Vivek:
Yeah. I’ll tell you… I’ll tell you a few of the things that we did. So, one of them was, of course, nursing to sleep. This was not the whole process, but it was part of the process. You know? And I still remember this, the half… like the half-circle cushion thing my wife would put on her lap and, on the couch, and… and… and Veets would like lay there and hold her and it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. But she also really liked to be bounced. So, I would hold her in my arms, and I would just walk around the apartment bouncing her, bouncing her. If I stopped bouncing, she would start crying. And so the minute… we called it bouncy-bouncy. Even now we still talk about bouncy-bouncy. And… and so, the bouncy-bouncy was, you know, it was like finding the… finding the… but we tried lots of things. Right? We tried carrying, we tried a bouncer thing, we tried like play. Like, we had to find the… there was a physical component to it that was really important for us to find what… what worked. And then she also had… we also had this battery operated swing that she liked. So, then we would… when the bouncy-bouncy, she would start to like get into this more of a dozy state would come about her - yeah, we’re both kind of moving our heads like that.

Carly:
Yeah. I was like, I know what you mean. Yeah.

Vivek:
Yeah. We would put her in the swing. But if it was a little too early then she would like immediately start to come back into her activated stage. Right? And so…

Carly:
Had to be the sweet spot.

Vivek:
Yeah, exactly. And so, that was like we had to have some patience with ourselves for it, but we, you know, it’s…. there’s a… there’s a… there’s a, like when the… when the… when her consciousness would get more activated and more, you know, like more waking up, then we would go back to the thing, the other things. Like, it would be nursing and then the bouncing and then the swing. And the swing into the bed, she co-slept for… for a few years. My wife and I were trying to remember was it three years? Was it two years? Was it four years? We couldn’t really remember how long the co-sleeping was, but then we would all get into bed together and there was like this beautiful feeling with the three of us getting into bed together and… and nurturing this sense of calm and connection between us. And then the meditating was really helpful. I mentioned it in the past episode as well, but the meditating was super helpful for us. We would meditate and… But I know one of the things that I did also was I would talk to her in her sleep a lot of the time. I would talk to her and just say really nourishing, calming, safety things in her sleep, especially since her little body was going through so much because of the medical stuff that I talked about before, I really wanted to help calm her nervous system as much as possible. We would do a lot of foot massages on her, you now, foot and leg massages and hand massages I found she really liked. And so, I think massaging even little babies, like really gentle massages can have an impact on the nervous system, and she really liked those… those things. So, those are the things that… and finding the right music and the right soundscape was a huge thing too. You know, I recently had a parent who was trying to find the different… something for her kid to fall asleep, and they settled on like this heavy metal rock thing that… and they tried all this calming music, they didn’t put their kid to sleep. And then they started playing like ACDC and Ozzie Osborne and the kid just fell asleep like that. They were like, we’ve got no idea.

Carly:
Oh, that’s awesome. That kid’s going to be rocking. I love that.

Vivek:
Yeah, for sure.

Carly:
Or maybe not. Maybe… maybe they’ll be asleep at the back of the gig by the time they…

Vivek:
Right. Yeah, yeah.

Carly:
How soothing for the soul. But hey, whatever works, because that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Vivek:
That’s exactly it. Yeah.

Carly:
Like, you’re getting to know a little body and a little brain…

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
… and what they find peaceful and restful can be completely different to what you thought. And you can tell, like over time too, it really changes too, what they prefer when they’re very tiny.

Vivek:
Definitely.

Carly:
Through to as they get older. Did you find that, like as she became a toddler were there different things that helped bring her calm at the end of a busy day?

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. One of the things was, so when she… especially when she decided to sleep on her own, because it was entirely her. You know, we, again we were entirely on her timeline for those kind of things. And… and… and so, one of the things was evenings were, or bedtime was a real question asking time. As soon as bedtime would come she would start having all these questions. And I know that again, even in those days people would say, ‘Oh, she’s trying to… she’s trying to get you to not let her go to sleep, and trying to get out of going to sleep [25:00] and…’ But we never saw it that way. I always saw it as like, you know, that’s what her brain needed at that moment. You know? And that’s what her brain wanted. That’s the kind of connection she wanted. That’s the kind of… wanted/needed. Wanted/needed both. You know, want… a lot of… a lot of the times people…

Carly:
Yeah. It’s a hard one, isn’t it?

Vivek:
Yeah. Well, you know, I’ll tell you, a lot of the time people say, oh, is it a want or a need? And then if it’s a want somehow it has less validity. I never saw it that way.

Carly:
I was going to say, does it even matter?

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Like, if it’s going to help her wind down to sleep. Because that’s the thing, like I often… like if you can’t debrief your day sometimes you can’t sleep.

Vivek:
Exactly.

Carly:
Like, you know, usually those questions are the last things on their mind.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
And if you can actually work through those – I have a very avid questioner, my second guy is heavy on the bedtime questioning.

Vivek:
Nice.

Carly:
So, I can definitely relate to that.

Vivek:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and bath time made a big difference. And even in those early days, every single night it was a foot massage. You know? All… I think she was probably… I think she was probably as old as like 13 before she stopped wanting me to… to give her a foot massage at nights. You know? And it was… and I remember I was like, and that was another time I was like, are you sure?

Carly:
Aw.

Vivek:
And every now and then, like she… she’ll have a sore leg or something and she’ll… and she’ll say, ‘Dad, can you… can you put some like Voltaren on my leg or something? You know? Like something to… something to… I got a cramp.’ And I’m like, inside I’m like, yes. And she’s, again she’s, in my mind she’s three all of a sudden and I’m like doing that. And so those were really big things. And honestly, you know, Carly, one of the things that really helped me through the whole sleep process was the mindset. You know? A lot of it was the… the practical things, and I think it’s really great to have a whole lot of different practical things to try. And I always like to… I always like to have, like when I find something that works, I always like to have three or four things ready to try as soon as these stop working, because like you said, kids are always changing. Right? But for me the mindset was the thing that carried me through for most of it. And the mindset for me, again, was it wasn’t so much about her sleeping in that moment. It was about her developing a relationship with her body and with sleep. And this was so important to me. This was the same with food, and it was the same with hygiene, and it was the same with work and school, and it was the same with relationships and communication, and it was the same with thinking. It was the same with all those things. It was her relationship with those things, her capacity with… her personal capacity with those things that I was caring about. And over the long term – and that’s a long-term process, you know. That’s not a one month process. That’s a multi-year process, and I was always thinking in a multi-year timeline. I always… I was always thinking in decades of working to learn these skills. You know? And so thinking that way, it really helped me slow down and not take this night as a panic. Because this night was my opportunity to one step in the… in the work of learning to develop that relationship with self, with sleep, and to understand the impact of sleep. And to make choices around it, considered choices depending on what I’m interested in or what’s happening or what I’m listening to in my body, or what’s happening in my life. You know? And… and so, I know like for me sometimes when I’m really depressed or sad or upset about something I’ll sleep just to escape those feelings. And sometimes when I’m really anxious I won’t sleep, you know,  until like 4 in the morning. And I don’t think either of those things are wrong. I think they’re just different ways that we related to ourselves. And so, when I… when I would remind myself what you’re doing now is helping her develop her relationship with sleep, even when she would cry and be… have trouble sleeping, I wouldn’t think of it as a failure or wrong. I would think this is part of her learning, learning that. You know? And so, I would always be able to shift… when I… when I – I won’t say always – when I was able to shift my mindset from trying to get something to happen to the longer term development that I was, you know a part of – nurturing, inspiring and supporting – it really helped me have compassion for myself and have patients with the whole process. And I think that’s something that we work on still on a daily basis. For myself I still, even as a 24-year-old. You know, right now she’s in her first long-term relationship. She’s been… been with her girlfriend for like a year and a half now, and they’re planning to  move in together. There’s a whole different phase of life. And even now…

Carly:
Wow.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Awesome.

Vivek:
And we’re doing apartment hunting together, and we’re looking for different things, and it’s a whole thing. We’re talking about budgeting and we’re learning about all these things that we’ve been all, you know, but I mean we’ve always been kind of exploring and learning those things. And… and so, and so, I’m watching myself as I do it. I’m like, okay, Vivek, now remember as you’re looking for the apartment, what you’re really doing is helping her develop a relationship with this kind of [30:00]… this aspect of life. You know? Going out there, having to deal with people, having to think about money, having to sign a thing. You know, and all that kind of stuff. So, even now I’m still focused on that more… the more relationship with self aspect of it. And… and I think this is really the power… for me it’s the most powerful mindset to approach parenting, because it gives us that broader perspective.

Carly:
I think it’s really, the power in it too is that it applies right across the lifespan. Like you said, like there’s… there’s… you know, there are unique challenges and things you face with your babes at different times in their life.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
But there is this overall mindset that can really help you make sense of the bigger picture while you’re in the nitty gritty part which, because that’s the thing, like especially with little babies, sometimes you’re just up to your eyeballs in it.

Vivek:
Right.

Carly:
And it’s hard to see your way through.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
But there really is this bigger picture that’s overarching everything you’re doing with your little family, and no one day is going to decide the outcome for your family.

Vivek:
Even if it feels like it in the moment.

Carly:
Absolutely. Because it can just swallow you whole.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Now, I can’t believe it, but we’re coming up to our 30 minutes already.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
And so, I’m going to ask, we’re going to have to finish up I’m afraid, but I would love if you’ve got one last tip you’d like to share with our listeners for this week.

Vivek:
Absolutely. One thing I’m going to share is… is to have a mindset of curiosity. I love the word curiosity. It’s so powerful. And curiosity, I practice a dance form called contact improvisation, and it’s an entirely improvisational dance form, I love it so much, which means there’s no choreography, there’s not steps to learn, there’s no music, there’s no learning. You don’t have to… you don’t have to learn any… anything to memorise. It’s all about principles. And one of the founders of the… of the form had a saying that said replace ambition with curiosity. And I really like that. It really helps me. And I… curiosity. So, curiosity is, it puts us in a question asking mode. It puts us in an investigative mode. It’s… it leads us to the iceberg too. Right? It leads us to the iceberg consciousness where we’re looking under the surface at things. And so, one of the things that I do is as soon as I come up on any kind of struggle is I start asking questions. I ask myself questions. I ask my kid questions. And I start enquiring. And a curiosity mindset doesn’t have a predetermined answer to the question. That’s the beautiful thing about it. Right? If I ask my kid…

Carly:
And there’s not always an answer either, is there?

Vivek:
There’s not. Exactly. That’s exactly it.

Carly:
Sometimes there is no answer.

Vivek:
Being okay with that is a big thing.

Carly:
Yeah, that one’s the killer.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. And that’s the beautiful thing about the curiosity mindset is it’s… it’s… it values just the experience of curiosity, the experience of… of exploration. And so, when my kid is not sleeping or in some other way frustrating me in some way, then I ask questions. I ask what’s happening for me right now. I usually ask about myself first because…because that’s unusual, we… to go inward first. You know? And I really love that, asking about myself. What’s going on for me right now? What’s going on for my kid right now? What’s going on in the environment right now? What’s happening in their body? What’s happening in their mind? You know? A lot of the time… a lot of the time we… we… we have so many things that are happening in our mind that are from the past, at this moment all of a sudden it’s they all come together and… and make a big explosion. You know, there are these videos – I call it the watermelon analogy – there are these videos on YouTube where people put elastic bands around a watermelon. Have you seen this?

Carly:
Oh, I’ve seen it. Yeah.

Vivek:
Have you?

Carly:
Yes.

Vivek:
And they… they put… they put like one or two doesn’t do anything because a watermelon’s strong. But once you get three or four hundred elastic bands around a watermelon, and you put that one last elastic band on, and the whole thing explodes, and someone gets a seed in their eye and there’s watermelon flying everywhere. Right? And emotions are very much like that. We have elastic bands building all throughout the day. And little ones too, little things like their blocks, their tower or blocks fall down, they couldn’t open a door, they didn’t get the… they asked for the blue cup, but they got the red cup and then they… and we don’t know. Like, there’s so many little things that build up. And then all of a sudden, like you just say… you just say hello and they’re crying or they’re screaming at you, and you don’t know why. It’s because of the elastic bands.

Carly:
That’s exactly, it’s really important with babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers particularly I find that. Because that’s… it can seem like… and I know, and once again this is a bit of self-compassion, because sometimes you just need to have a bit of a laugh. But when… when it comes to little people you often see people… oh, I don’t want to use the word tease, but it’s like making light of the reasons why a toddler has had a meltdown.

Vivek:
Right.

Carly:
And it’s really just iceberg stuff where you’re missing it wasn’t about that one thing.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
It’s actually a whole collection of things that result, that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back kind of thing.

Vivek:
Yeah, exactly.

Carly:
It set them over the edge.

Vivek:
The elastic band that exploded [35:00] the watermelon.

Carly:
Yeah, exactly. The elastic band. Ah. Yeah.

Vivek:
It’s the new… it’s the new saying.

Carly:
Yeah. I like it. It is exactly how it is too.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
The pressure building, building, building until phew. It’s all out there.

Vivek:

Yeah. And one of the beautiful things about realising that is we can also help our kids with their elastic bands before it gets to that point, once we’re aware of it. You know?

Carly:
Yes.

Vivek:
When I notice my kid had an elastic band – and our own too, like the pickle jar I mentioned. You know? Every time I can’t open a pickle jar this little, a little bit of frustration gets lodged into my thing, and in my consciousness, and enough of them and my watermelon’s going to explode too. And so we can actually know, have… be helping our kids release their elastic bands when they come home from school, when they have a difficult experience, when they have a play date, whatever. We can help them release those elastic bands all throughout… all throughout the day.

Carly:
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s releasing it. It’s not trying to avoid frustration. It’s not trying to avoid frustration. It’s not trying to, you know, any of those things. It’s actually just having safe outlets for our little people to let those feelings out, just like we need safe outlets to be able to let it out as well, so we’re not also building that pressure over any day.

Vivek:
So powerful.

Carly:
Really powerful. Thank you so much, Vivek. I feel like we’ve just got so much wisdom out of your two episodes.

Vivek:
Oh, wonderful.

Carly:
And I’m really grateful that we could take you back all those years.

Vivek:
I know.

Carly:
It was amazing. You did really well recalling all the things that you did, and thank you for talking through with your wife as well to help you refresh because, yeah…

Vivek:
Yeah, it was kind of fun actually.

Carly:
Oh good. I’m glad.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
And you can hear, I think that’s one thing I’m really appreciating about hearing everybody’s stories is there’s this genuine tenderness when people think back on those times, even if there were struggles and real challenges. There’s this genuine tenderness for those memories as well.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Which is really special to hold onto. So, thank you so much, Vivek.

Vivek:
Beautiful.

Carly:
Amazing.

Vivek:
Yeah, my pleasure. And I really enjoyed our time together.

Carly:
It was awesome. And I will be dropping all the links to your work into our show notes as well. So, if you haven’t already, go and check out Meaningful Ideas, and we already, in the Beyond Sleep Training podcast… in the Beyond Sleep Training Project Group we regularly refer our people over to Gentle Parents Unite, the group that Vivek helps run with Sujai Johnston.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Because it’s just a really fabulous resource for families, especially as your little people grow, because once they hit toddlerhood and whatnot the challenges really do shift and change…

Vivek:
For sure.

Carly:
… from the initial focus that we find people coming to our group for.

Vivek:
Yeah. And our admin team is like so wise and so powerful. And they’re very diverse. It’s like the most diverse group I’ve ever been with. You know? It’s so… it’s so wonderful. I love being part of that group.

Carly:
It’s pretty special. So, thank you for the work that you guys do there.

Vivek:
Absolutely.

Carly:
Because we definitely appreciate it so much.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Alright. Thank you, Vivek. I’ll let you get back to your day, but thanks for your time.

Vivek:
Wonderful.

Carly:
Thank you.

Carly:
I really hope you enjoyed the podcast today the information we discussed was just that information only it is not specific advice if you take any action following something you've heard from our show today it is important to make sure you get professional advice about your unique situation before you proceed whether that advice is legal, financial, accounting, medical or any other advice. Please reach out to me if you do have any questions or if there's a topic you'd really like us to be covering and if you know somebody who'd really benefit from listening to our podcast please be sure to pass our name along also check out our free peer support group the beyond sleep training project and our wonderful website www.littlesparklers.org. If you'd like even more from the show you can join us as a patron on Patreon and you can find a link for that in our show notes if listening is not really your jam we also make sure we put full episode transcripts on our little sparklers website for you to also enjoy and fully captioned YouTube videos as well on our Little Sparklers channel so thanks again for listening today we really enjoy bringing this podcast to you.

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