Mindfulness is a common term used in meditation circles and among the new age spiritually intrigued. It cultivates an image and feeling of blissful stillness and deep inner peace. We often here yoga and meditation teachers telling us to "empty the mind" which as a parent seems near impossible most of the time, but I have a different take on the word mindful and how it can benefit the journey of motherhood.
When we break up the word it becomes mind-FULL. How about instead of trying to constantly empty our minds we fill it up with the present moment. As mothers we have an abundance of opportunities to fill our scattered brains with beautiful appreciation and awareness of the sensory experience of motherhood. Here are some ways to to slow down a little, reduce stress and become a more mindful mama x
- Start the day with cuddles and kisses. Lots of them! I use to wake up resentful of the lack of sleep I had, the crying out for "breakfast now mama!" and the fact I couldn't slide back under my duvet cover until the sun had at least properly risen. Now when my children's little pink fingers slip the blankets down and climb their warm bed bodies in next to me, I squeeze them and I kiss them until they scream "stop it mama!" and then I hold them closer a little more. Children, especially young ones, are still so in their bodies. This means that physical contact and plenty of it is incredibly important and beneficial for their physical and emotional wellbeing. Up until the age of two they still think they are attached to their mother. We need to nurture this physiological aspect of our children and it starts by becoming aware. Start the day by being mindful of the close physical connection our children need to have with us and squeeze love and kindness out of your body and into theirs then watch your day unfold in a whole new way.
- Cultivate ritual and gratitude. Another important morning aspect for us is saying a little blessing over our breakfast and then I sit with them as they eat and ask them what they are grateful for today. They usually say "I'm grateful for my porridge and toast! or for mummy and daddy!". This brings in mindfulness by making sure you, mama, eat a proper breakfast first and foremost. We then become mindful of how blessed we are in our lives and also rituals such as these force us to connect with our families and to become mindful of what our loved ones are thinking and feeling. Even if it is just how much they love their toast! Here is the blessing we use at meal times. It is a Waldorf inspired verse: Blessings on the blossoms and blessings on the fruit, blessings on the tress and leaves and blessings on the roots. Thank you for food!
- Give yourself timeout. I recently attended a parenting seminar and one of the best things I learnt was that timeout for children doesn't work but instead you can give yourself time out. I can become very overwhelmed by my children's tantrums and anger. I never knew such little people could fill me with so much stress and rage! Now I try as calm as possible to say "Mummy is going to the bathroom" (or wherever I can hide out for a moment) and take myself to timeout. I may cuss a little under my breath, rub my head and then start taking a few big deep breaths. I remind myself that I have reached my limit and that's OK. It's important to be mindful of your own feelings and to energize yourself first before tackling stressful situations such as toddler meltdowns. I then remind myself that my children are very little, need love and understanding but clear boundaries too. Be mindful of your own limits and reducing stress by having mama timeouts. Don't forget those big deep belly breaths. They really help calm a fraught nervous system.
- Find one thing, one act of love, to be your meditation and do it with mindfulness every single day. It can be anything from sipping your morning coffee, to kissing your loved ones goodbye or pulling soft woolly socks over your babies toes. Whatever you chose, do it with full presence and give it your full attention. Become aware of the smells, the way it feels against your skin or the sound of what you've chosen. Immerse yourself in the small details of your chosen moment. Remember that you can find peace and stillness in the most smallest of acts and they can fill you up with a warmth that feels like the sun is beaming out from inside of you.
- Love your body. Do this today or a soon as possible: Buy yourself the most luxurious, creamy and heavenly smelling body lotion. Then every day smother lashings of it over your beautiful life giving body. Massage it in to yourself the way you would massage a lover. With tenderness, kindness and a lot of love. Breathe in big inhales and exhales as you do this and smile at the parts you love and hate about yourself. In fact, linger a little more on the parts you hate as they will be needing extra love. When we become mindful in acts of self love, we step out into the world with an inner confidence knowing that we have taken a moment in our day to honour these mama bodies that give so much on a daily basis.
- Have in breath and out breath moments in your day. A common complaint among parents of today is the busyness of it all. We are constantly rushing from one thing to the next, never stopping, never taking a moment to just be and breathe. We think our children's days have to be filled to the brim with activities and constant stimulation. In breath moments are those times when the kids are running around, dinner is being cooked, washing is being hung and mud pies in the garden are being thrown around with shouts of glee! Out breath moments are sitting in mamas lap to read a story or hear a soft song sung, slow walks through nature and watching clouds pass by on cosy blankets outside. Be mindful of having these slower moments in your day for your children and yourself. They will help to gather your thoughts, re energize and bring peace back into the home.
Mindfulness to me is bringing all the goodness that is in life into our minds and acknowledging the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings too. Life as mama can sometimes feel like you are amidst a big stormy sea with crashing waves all around, dark murky water with no bottom in sight and no compass to direct the way home. Just know that we have all been in that ocean and in those dark times. Just stop, breathe and you will find the calm beyond the fury of the storm. It is always there. You know it is. That peace resides in you no matter what and if you want it, it is there to take your hand and lead you into being the mindful mama that you always were. xx