As it is often said, parenthood doesn’t come with a manual and so it can be easy for mums to become overloaded with information and advice from others. It is natural to want to search for practical tools to help you stay sane as you meet the challenges of raising your children.
Mindfulness not only offers you a new way coping with stressful situations but also to savour and enjoy the good bits too. But before this starts to sound like another ‘set to rules’ to live by in order to be a ‘good mum’ it is important to recognise that Mindfulness is about being yourself. It is a gentle, non-judgmental way of being. It offers you the opportunity to forgive yourself for all that is not perfect and accept things just as they are.
Mindfulness is about bringing your attention and focus to the present moment and then practicing being aware of each moment as it happens. It can be easy for your mind to wander back to past events and to find yourself thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet. You have no control over either the past or the future. The only thing that you can positively control for yourself is this very moment.
A common phrase that mums use is how busy they are, often that they are too busy. It is easy to become consumed by this. You find that car journeys are made on ‘auto-pilot’ without any awareness of the journey itself, or meals are eaten without tasting and savouring anything more than the first mouthful or two.
It is easy to switch on ‘auto-pilot’ for the routine tasks but other moments can be lost in the same way. Busy mums are often advised to take time for themselves. One example might be to book a treatment such as a massage or facial. You go along and lay on the couch ready for some wonderful pampering. You enjoy the first few relaxing moments and then the mind wanders and before you know it you are lost in thoughts of your ‘to do’ list, children’s activities, going over a past experience in your thoughts, or thinking about an upcoming event.
In all of these examples experiences are passing you by, moments are lost and go by unnoticed because of being so preoccupied by multiple and sometimes futile, thoughts.
A good way to start practicing Mindfulness is through a simple, body scan mediation. To begin with listening to a meditation CD might help to guide you. During this exercise, you are not trying to make anything extraordinary happen, you are simply making space, focusing on the breath and on each part of the body noticing each moment just as it is. When the mind wanders you simply notice this and bring your attention back to where you intended it to be.
The benefits of practicing Mindfulness can be huge. Your stress levels start to lower, feelings of anxiety and anger can be significantly reduced and you find you are becoming a more patient parent. Most profoundly, your life experiences no longer pass you by. You are beginning to feel what it is like to experience the present, moment by moment, just as it is.
Tanya Wright holds workshops at The Ananda Clinic, Tonbridge and The Karma Studios, West Wickham, to introduce the core concepts of Mindfulness and meditation as well as mindful techniques for stress management and to reduce feelings of anger, anxiety or panic.
Saturday 2nd March – SOLD OUT
Saturday 9th March 2pm-4pm – spaces available at The Ananda Clinic, Tonbridge
Saturday 11th May 2pm-4pm – spaces available at The Karma Studios, West Wickham