by Lena Schmidt: Practicing yoga, meditation, or any form of mindfulness with your dad could be a positive way to connect—whether that’s in person or from afar…
In honor of Father’s Day, you celebrate the love, wisdom, humanity, and compassion offered by fathers worldwide. While some jump at the chance to celebrate, spend time with, or pay homage to fathers or fatherhood, relationships with dads can be complicated. If you are thinking of ways to connect, bond, or help heal your relationship with your dad (or any dad in your life), consider practicing yoga and mindfulness together. (Throughout this article, all mentions of “dad,” “father,” or “your dad” or “your father” can be considered to include all understandings of that grand term.)
May you honor the dads who are there for you, the dads who are no longer with you, the dads who have adopted you, the dads who left you, the dads who did the best they could with that they had, and the dads who stepped in when fathering was most needed.
Mindfulness and Yoga Basics
“Mindfulness is all about being aware . . . When you are being actively mindful, you are noticing and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and movements, and also to the effects you have on those around you.”
Yoga and meditation are both common ways to actively practice mindfulness, though mindfulness can truly be practiced anywhere, anytime. Yoga is a holistic practice that includes physical postures designed to stretch and strengthen the body, breathing techniques, and sometimes meditation or chanting. Meditation is the practice of sitting quietly while observing the mind, while mindfulness can be practiced while painting, gardening, cooking, playing music, playing with children, eating, dancing, walking, or even petting your dog or cat.
Whether you share a home, live far apart, talk every day, are not in contact at all, are processing loss, or see each other once or twice a year, there are many ways to practice mindfulness with your dad.
If You Live in the Same Home
- Sit side by side to meditate.
- Attend a yoga class together—online or in person.
- Take a mindful walk together and notice the colors, sounds, and scents of nature.
- Listen to music together and let that be all that you do.
- Cook a meal together and notice the scents and tastes as you cook.
- Garden together and plant flowers or vegetables that you can observe growing.
If You Live Apart
- Designate a time that you’ll both be meditating at the same time each day or week.
- Check-in with a phone call, write an email, or chat over a cup of tea to share back your experiences after your practice.
- Go for a walk at the same time, call each other, talk while you walk, and describe the scenes you each see.
- Choose a musical artist or album to listen to for the day; trade-off choosing music.
- Share a recipe, cook simultaneously, and eat mindfully together over video chat.
- Check-in with a phone call, write an email, or chat over a cup of tea to share back your experiences post-practice.
- Choose a flower or vegetable that you will each plant and share the growth progress.
If Your Dad Is Not Around
- Send loving-kindness to your dad and your relationship.
- Honor your dad’s memory by focusing on personal growth.
- Open yourself up to forgiveness (if only for your sake).
- Display photos of your dad or tokens that inspire compassion.
- Think creatively: Is there an activity that brought out the best in your dad? Consider how that can be incorporated into your personal mindfulness practice.
Benefits of Practicing Yoga and Mindfulness with Your Dad
Practicing yoga and mindfulness can benefit both you and your dad. By practicing together, you could:
- Bond for free: It doesn’t cost anything to practice mindfulness together. You only need your body and your breath. Practicing mindfulness is a way to open your hearts and minds without opening your pocketbook.
- Find something in common: Whether you already have lots of shared interests or you feel like your dad is from another planet, practicing mindfulness could be something you now have in common. Perhaps you cultivate a yoga practice and someday plan to go on a retreat together. Perhaps you even develop a loving-kindness meditation practice and work on healing strained relationships within your shared family or with one another.
- Both receive the benefits of mindfulness: Though you’ll intentionally practice together, as individuals both you and your dad will reap the many health benefits of mindfulness. These “high vibrations” ripple out into your interactions with family, friends, coworkers, and community.
- Enjoy quality time: Mindfulness, by definition, means being in the present moment. Rather than sitting near each other while you’re both scrolling through the digital worlds on your devices, you’ll be cheering each other on and supporting each other’s personal growth. You might even feel compelled to share something important or learn something new about your dad.
Yoga and mindfulness can be powerful healing tools. It is possible that when you practice with your dad, whether physically or energetically, emotions will arise. Yoga and mindfulness can provide the space to process tough emotions such as disappointment, rage, and sorrow. Yoga and mindfulness can also crack your heart wide open to acceptance, joy, and compassion.
All of you, and all that you experience, is welcome in the mindfulness space. Whether you and your dad are closely connected, orbiting each other, or apart in some way, practicing mindfulness with your dad (be it with your dad in mind, with your dad in the room, or your dad in your heart) can build compassion muscles for both of you.