Be a mindful mother filled with compassion and grace.
Being a mother is like putting your heart in another body and letting it walk around with no protection.
The emotions we feel daily as mothers are intense, and they can swing from bliss to rage in a heartbeat. This is in part thanks to the incredible pressure coming from all sides to be a perfect mother, and at the same time have a great career and be a loving wife, a goddess in the kitchen and the bedroom and, of course, look like a supermodel.
It’s not possible.
So you need to focus on your perception of what being a mother is, and then let go of what is not working for you.
The thing is, you are already everything you need to be – all the experiences you have had so far have made you the mother you are, and the mother you were meant to be. You don’t need to believe it when the media says you need fixing. You just need to reconnect with how powerful you already are.
You have the ability to be a lighthouse for yourself and your family – beaming out a bright light that can uplift everyone around you.
When you rush around like you are in a supermarket sweep game show – when contestants have 10 seconds to fill a trolley – your light starts to fade. Mundane tasks leave you feeling exhausted and the repetitiveness of the bedtime routine has you gasping for air. Mornings are a military procedure of making lunches while dealing with meltdowns over minor incidents.
Enter the mindful moment.
Mindful moments are all about being absorbed in the present moment – freeing you from the pain of the past and the worries of the future. This is the true art of paying attention. You are only truly alive in each moment. In this moment, right now. Now is when you can appreciate life and what is around you, when you can have meaningful encounters with others. Now is when you can train yourself to strengthen your mind, and create more empathy and compassion within yourself and your relationships. You can let go of judgement and expectations. All you need to do is just notice your thoughts and not be dominated by them.
Be mindful, especially with your children.
Mindfulness can be practised by engaging all your senses – taste your food, listen with attention, sense the air you breathe, and really see the wonders life offers. This teaches reflection. If you can learn to quieten your mind and reduce stress, you will be more in control of your own actions. This will make you a great role model for your children. When you are calm, you help create a happier, more balanced child. When stressed, you create stressed behaviour patterns in your children.
This mirroring process shows how connected we are to our children. So make your day a mindfulness meditation in motion – for your sake and theirs. This can be done while you are cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, crying or contemplating. Notice how you are feeling. Are you feeling anxious, angry, overwhelmed, elated, frustrated, exhausted or bored? Now, learn to accept these feelings – don’t tell yourself what you should or should not be.
You are already enough.
You need to reprogram your mind and use triggers so you remember to practise this ancient art and transform everyday life into a mindfulness meditation. Taking a few breaths with awareness each day can help reduce stress and plant the seeds for a practice that nourishes body and mind.
Using your senses mindfully
We are bombarded every day via our senses. Studies claim we discard almost 90 per cent of the information overload we receive, which means we absorb only 10 per cent of what we see and hear. And if we practise using our conscious-awareness mind, we can choose what of this 10 per cent we pay attention to.
Eighty per cent of what our brain absorbs is visual, and we can find so much joy if we just open our eyes with awareness. Life moves fast. One day your child is a baby, the next it seems they are off to school. So you need be very grateful for your eyes. (Not everyone has this sensory pleasure.)
Mindful seeing calms your busy mind by slowing down and simplifying what you see. Go outside and take a breath and absorb the surroundings. There is so much beauty in the world.
Use eye contact with people when interacting with them, and especially when talking with your children. Really look them in the eye. Connect and touch their soul. This helps open your heart and, instead of feeling anger and frustration, you feel empathy and compassion.
A smell can instantly take you back to a distant memory. An aroma can trigger all kinds of emotions. Some scents relax you; others may make you uncomfortable or frightened.
Aromatherapy can play a vital role in your life. Different essential oils can be burnt for energy or for relaxation. Scented candles, soaps, creams, perfumes, tea and flowers can all be used in mini mindful meditations. Pack your handbag with ways to mindfully meditate using your sense of smell. Use a lavender hand cream or honey lip balm and absorb the moment – feel the softness as you rub the cream or ointment into your hands or lips. Really feel and observe the sensations. Inhale the fragrance and the moment.
Too often in our society we overeat and gobble down dinner in front of the TV. We need to slow down, chew our food and taste it, mindfully. You can learn to savour the taste of food and give your brain a chance to let you know you are full.
Being mindful while you eat and drink with your family also teaches your children to appreciate food and thought. Use the time eating as a family to talk about where the food has come from, and about how many people have worked hard to bring this food to you.
Be thankful for food.
Our children depend on our love and acceptance, and what better way to show we care than to hug them.I believe we should hug our children and each other as much as possible. It releases stress and keeps us feeling loved and connected.Bedtime is great for practising mindfulness through touching. After you have bathed your child, wrapped them in a towel and rubbed them dry, it’s time for a cuddle. Pop them into pyjamas, tuck them into bed and read them a story, then it is time to stroke their hair and kiss them goodnight. Absorb the moment – they are only children for a short while.
Be mindful in the way you think. Are you being critical and judging yourself? Instead, learn to observe your thoughts and choose not to indulge in them. Sit in silence, rest your mind and start to notice your thought patterns. What are you thinking? Write down your thoughts in a journal and take note of the patterns that arise.
Think about thinking. Then focus on your breath and start to become aware of your other senses. What can you hear, smell and feel? Do it mindfully. Create mindfulness triggers throughout your day – the kettle boiling can be one, or set an alarm on a phone or laptop to remind you to be mindful at intervals. And while this trigger could produce an action, it could just be that you simply commit to noticing one beautiful thing. Children do this naturally – they see the birds in the trees and stop to smell the roses.
Time to reflect
Mindful parenting involves recognising and nurturing your child’s full potential. It is not seeing them as a projection of who you want them to be, or of you.
I believe we need to try to be completely present with our children, even if it is for only 15 minutes a day. Give them your undivided attention and listen to their every word. This will help your children feel emotionally secure. Bake some cookies, read your children a story, build a sandcastle with them or push them on a swing. I have learned that when I close my laptop and join my 4-year-old in whatever he is doing, being a parent is an absolute joy. Absorb your children’s awesomeness. Ask yourself every day: “What can I do to feel more connected to my child?”
My son and I hug every day. My son is my mindfulness bell.
Find your mindful moment right now.
Unplug and play with your child each day.
Create a mindfulness bell to remind you to be present.
Use hand cream in your handbag for a mini meditation.
Give your children a yoga hug and inhale their loveliness.
This is a chapter excerpt from the award winning book “Mother Om – Connect with yourself and your child in one mindful moment a day”.