This is a guest post by Allison Evans, Hypnotherapist specialising in HypnoBirthing and HypnoBirthing Fertility Therapy.
If you’re reading a blog called “Mummy Zen,” you’re probably aware of the concept of mindfulness: that is, bringing your full awareness to the present moment. There is something about raising a child that seems to invite mindfulness. You can’t help but notice how in-the-moment children are, how they delight in the smallest details, and you delight in their joy, too. There’s also an undeniable pull out of the present moment, as we must think and plan for the future – “What do I need to pack for our outing?” And as we reflect on past missteps – “How could I have forgotten the sun cream?” This is just part of being human, especially when you are responsible to others! But if you ever find yourself feeling disconnected, vaguely dissatisfied, quick to anger and wondering where your sense of humor has gone, mindfulness may be what you need.
A few years ago, when my children were four and two, that’s exactly where I was. Fortunately for me, a friend introduced me to a wise Naturopathic Doctor. Her simple suggestions turned my life around, and I have shared them – and some discoveries of my own – to many others to positive effect. Here they are:
1. Breathe. Deeply. Every day. Breath is foundational to the HypnoBirthing method that I teach. Deep breathing actually short-circuits the body’s stress response, and helps to keep a mother in labour – or anyone – calm and in control, no matter the circumstances. I now recommend that mothers continue their breathing exercises after their babies are born: 5-10 minutes of slow, deep breathing through the nose, two times per day, and in moments of stress. Focus on the breath, allow it to be all you do for those 5-10 minutes, allow it to nourish you and be grateful for the simple miracle of breath!
2. Mono-task. Yes, I mean stop all the multi-tasking! Start by picking one routine task where your mind has a tendency to wander or that you might do while also talking on the phone. For example, as you do the washing up, focus on each of your senses: feel the warmth of the water, notice the flex of your arm muscles as you handle the dish, smell the fragrance of the dish soap, listen to the sound of the running water. Avoid the tendency to mentally prepare yourself for your next task. Focus on this one, menial chore and smile. Smiling reinforces good feelings, similar to deep breathing.
3. Allow yourself to be interrupted by your child at least once per day. How often has your child heard, “Just a minute, honey”? As convenient as that phrase is, it does send a message to your child that the laundry is more important than she is. Is it? That’s mindfulness, too: not just reacting, but taking the time to respond consciously. If what you are doing is, in fact, time-critical, pause to hear her out. Make eye-contact with her as you listen to what she needs, then give her a realistic time frame for when you can attend to her. Similar to responding to your baby’s cries, this attention, even when it’s inconvenient, encourages her trust in you and the world.
4. Make a date with your child. Take a moment to think back over the last month. What makes you smile to remember it? Was it how clean your bathroom was? A television programme? More likely it was something your child did or said! Schedule time each day to be present for such moments.
5. Make a date with yourself. Make yourself a priority, just as you have made your child. Get up earlier than your child so you can enjoy an hour or so of the prime morning time all to yourself. If your child is a very early riser and that isn’t practical, use the child’s nap time to do something that restores you, such as meditating, reading a book, or corresponding with a friend. Resist the urge to “get something done.” It can wait.
These mindfulness exercises will ground you in your life and bring you a real sense of peace. Enjoy!
I invite you to practice these mindfulness techniques and please share your own with us. Let us know what happens!