Thank so much to the lovely Belinda for being with us in October and for her practical advice on helping us find solace and serenity in amidst our busy lives. This is the last post in our ‘Monday Meditation’ series in October. If you’ve missed our previous editions, you can find Belinda’s first post here, second post here and third post here. ~ Annie x
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzz word in recent years, however unlike a lot of hyped fads it really does work, providing a strategy to help us live in the present moment, even if it that present moment is a bit shitty (and haven’t we all been there).
According to the ever-faithful Wikipedia, mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”.
In practise it’s not always easy to be so accepting and non-judgemental of ourselves or of uncomfortable situations, but with practise it’s possible to become more mindful of our thoughts without getting attached to negative thinking or letting our minds get carried away in future planning and other thoughts like the endless ‘to do’ list.
Think about a moment where you’ve felt stressed and under pressure. Chances are that your brain chatter started to tell a story of its own based on the uncomfortable feelings and emotions you were experiencing. Mindfulness is a skill that allows you to focus on the present moment without judgement, which is especially powerful when going through hard times or even just long days at home with the kids.
If you spend a lot of your time looking after small children like me, there’s an endless opportunity to practice your mindfulness skills.
A first step is to go for a walk with them and devote all your energy and focus not on just getting to the destination but in taking in the journey itself. Small children are naturals at the mindfulness game – so take their lead and you’ll be amazed at what you will see and feel. Stop when they notice small things on their path, dawdle alongside and look for birds in the trees and the wind blowing leaves across the path. Not an activity to try when you’re rushing to do the kindy or school drop off and get to work, but after giving this a go you might find yourself leaving that little bit earlier just so you can savour the moment.
A trick for when you feel frustrations rising to the surface is to pinpoint the emotion you are feeling and why you are feeling it. Sometimes we can experience emotions without really tapping into what’s causing them. Are we doing too much? Do we need to slow down or do we just need to attend to that nagging task we have been putting off? Is the real reason that our childrens’ nagging is getting to us today is that we haven’t rested or nourished ourselves enough? Sitting with our emotions can be tough but once you’ve mastered it you’ve got your own personal reboot button to help you get through tough days.
Another great way mindfulness can help us as mothers is that it can bring a meditative quality to tasks that have to get done that we may not really enjoy. Washing pile anyone? Mindfulness prescribes taking in all the sensations of the most mundane of tasks, so when washing up pay attention to the warmth of the water, the light caress of the bubbles and focus your attention to cleaning each plate and moving it to the rack. You’ll be surprised at how relaxing these tasks can be when you focus on small things – the sensations, your breath and small movements. Higher degree of difficulty with a nagging child tugging on your leg! Not sure the most zen could even manage that, but it’s all about small mindful steps everyday.
As much as sitting and dedicating some quiet time for ourselves should be a priority for mothers, it’s not always going to happen everyday so injecting some mindfulness techniques into everyday living can be bring about noticeable changes in our mood and coping skills.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried some of these techniques and how they work out for you. I’ve really enjoyed being here for the past month, bringing you my little Monday meditations. Thanks again to the lovely Annie for having me. I’d love if you popped over to the blog, or joined me on facebook, twitter or instagram to say hello sometime.
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.