I first met Belinda through her blog over at Save Mum’s Sanity when we were both very pregnant with our youngest boys, and I loved reading about her parenthood adventures. As we are both Brisbane girls, our blogging friendship soon turned into a real life one, and I’m so glad she agreed to come and share her words of wisdom over on the Mummalove blog. Bel will be popping in every Monday during October with some meditation and relaxation related posts that will hopefully help you find some solace and sanity during the month and beyond. ~ Annie x
My first hazy recollection of meditation was as a child in the 80s watching A Country Practice – not that I knew it was meditation at the time. Shirley Gilroy, one of the main characters, was married to the Police Sargent in the small town of Wandin Valley, where the show was set, and was often-times found cross-legged under a white wire pyramid in the corner of her living room with her thumb and forefinger touching. If my memory serves me correctly she was also chanting Om.
I remember thinking it was fascinating, if a little weird, as my little country self had never encountered such a thing, but I knew I liked it. Who wouldn’t like sitting in a corner, eyes closed, blocking out the world around them for a little while and going within? Well plenty of people, it seems. Even though society has moved on a lot since Shirl sat in her corner under her pyramid, I still sense a lot of resistance around meditation from both popular culture and people I know. It can often be considered a bit mystic, inaccessible and just plain weird. And besides, who has time for sitting in the corner with your eyes closed anyway?
Although I’ve never held these thoughts myself, they’re all legitimate. The art of meditation rising from Buddhist and Hindu traditions is still not considered an essential part of everyday life in the west. Sure, many may have dabbled at the end of a yoga class, but what if I was to suggest that a regular meditation practice would have enormous benefits for mothers like me and you? No pyramid required!
I’d always been an occasional meditator until the end of 2012, I decided that I needed to take better care of myself in order to be happier, healthier and to be the best parent I could be to my two boys, one of whom has additional needs.
Up until this point, I’d always thought meditation had to be super serious with whale music on in the background with no interruptions and that it was a luxury I just didn’t have time for. However, at that point in my life I realised that I just couldn’t afford not to give a bit of time back to myself or I was going to completely burn out. So I scheduled in time for meditation and yoga and progressively I started to feel lighter and more like myself again. I realised by just sitting and being for just 10 minutes a day – even if I nodded off (which I did a lot!) – left me feeling more at ease during all those other minutes in the day.
I started off doing guided meditations on the internet – I outline a few of my favourites in my post on how to start a daily meditation practice. Most are based on the practice of tuning into the breath and focusing your attention there, and when your mind wanders (which it will) the breath acts as a steadying force to come back to. This focus on the breath now pays big dividends for me in times of stress, whether that’s parenting or at work or if I’m stuck in traffic and running late! Every time I feel anxiety rising I stop and deepen my breath and it slows me down, I can think clearer and react in a more deliberate, less-stressed manner.
Meditation doesn’t just help me deal with stress but it’s helped me to hone in on my intuition and act from the heart more often. This has been an invaluable tool for me this year as we’ve been navigating a range of therapies and extra interventions for my son before he starts Prep next year. At first I felt totally overwhelmed and out of my depth, constantly wondering if we were on the right path, but thanks to giving it some focus through meditation and working on listening to why certain feelings were cropping up for me and what they meant, I now feel clearer and more confident in my advocacy role.
So that’s what meditation has done for me and I’m confident it can do the same for you too. The next few Mondays I’ll be taking you through a few meditation techniques that can help you and perhaps even more importantly how you can incorporate them into your already busy lives. Next week the focus will be on how to make meditation an enjoyable ritual in your life.
Belinda is a journalist, yoga-addict and mother to two boys, always searching for ways to live a purposeful and stress-free life. Join her over at her blog Save Mum’s Sanity in celebrating the perfectly imperfect journey of motherhood.