What is mindfulness?
The theory of mindfulness is thrown around quite a lot at the moment, it’s a bit of a trend – and for good reason. Mindfulness helps us slow down and not become quite so overwhelmed in this crazy busy world we live in. In its simplest form, mindfulness is consciously and intentionally being present in the moment, thinking and acting purposefully and being open minded and nonjudgmental.
Except with kids, life becomes a bit of a paradox. Days can fly by, whilst simultaneously sitting stagnant in a thick, blurring fog. In the early days when my second son was a newborn it felt like I would NEVER be able to stop feeding, I would NEVER be able to sleep again and my body and personal space would NEVER be just mine ever, EVER again – then all of a sudden, my baby was suddenly not so little and I was left wondering where that time went . Did I blink and miss it? Did I fall asleep without realising and wake three months later? Did I not sleep at all in the last six months, causing my brain to completely block my memory to avoid the development of posttraumatic stress? I would often feel guilty as I found myself wanting to fast forward to the “next” stage because I felt emotionally and physically drained – and now he’s actually in that next stage, and I’m left clinging to the remnants of the last stage, because dammit I wasn’t ready for him to grow up yet.
Mindfulness will not stop time but it will help you enjoy, appreciate or even just survive the current moment while it is still here. Mindfulness encourages you to be nonjudgmental of others and of whatever situation or environment you’re in, but perhaps more importantly, it encourages you to be nonjudgemental of yourself. As mums, we find this so hard, don’t we?? Almost every mother I’ve talked to, at some point or another, has felt guilt about her parenting, her feelings, her relationships, what she’s not doing, what she is doing, the list goes on. And that is such a burden to carry.
I’m still constantly feeding, still trying unsuccessfully to steal my sleep back, still sharing my body and my personal space bubble with this beautiful little human – but now that I know how quickly it goes, I’m trying to be present in this moment, right now, rather than reminiscing on the past or trying to jump to the future. Because I won’t get this time back, so it makes sense to try and enjoy it, rather than accept feeling stressed and guilty.
So how do you become more mindful?
There are so many different ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life. I’d recommend starting with something small and adding other techniques from there, rather than trying to change everything at once – like any goal, breaking it into small chunks makes it much more achievable.
Some ideas to get you started…
- Purposefully place mindfulness reminders around your home and/or workplace. You could use post it notes, phone alarms, stickers, a certain piece of jewellery, a poster on the wall, candles – anything that you will come across regularly throughout your day that will encourage and remind you to be present in the moment.
- Begin a ritual or habit at a certain time each day as “you” time, where you consciously encourage yourself to simply enjoy and savour whatever it is you’ve chosen to do. This could be your shower at night or your morning cup of coffee or tea. It doesn’t have to be long to be effective, but you should try to regularly make time for yourself to just be.
- Schedule (or spontaneously squeeze in when you get the opportunity!) time to meditate, either guided (there are a lot of wonderful YouTube videos and apps available for this) or unguided. You can either repeat a mantra/positive affirmation to yourself, focus on something that makes you happy, or simply reflect either inwards or outwards.
- Make associations with things that you have to do anyway as opportunities for mindfulness – at the moment a great opportunity for me to do this is while breastfeeding, because whilst stuck under a baby there is a lot of time for thinking!
- Take five minutes each morning as soon as you wake up to decide that the day is going to be awesome – this one is tricky for me, because at the moment I’m usually woken by a child grabbing my face or trying to climb over me rather than awaking naturally… but nevertheless I will keep trying!
I get it, it’s hard to cram time to be mindful in an already cram-packed day. “Bunny,” I hear you saying, “I barely even have time to go to the bathroom alone, let alone be mindful!” Well, rumour has it that us women are pretty good at multitasking, so if it comes down to it…
In all seriousness though, it is so worth it to take even just five minutes to breathe and be present. Mindfulness can definitely help through the rough times, and often overlaps with happiness and positive thinking. It’s definitely easier said than done to be mindful when your child is throwing a tantrum because you wouldn’t let them lick the electrical socket, or when you haven’t showered in two days because your baby is constantly hanging off you because bloody teething, or when you’re facing your third poonami in two days while you’re in the car outside school when the bell’s about to ring and it’s raining and you forgot to repack the nappy bag after the last poonami and you wonder if it’s even physically possible to completely clean a baby with just one wet wipe… not that I’m speaking for experience or anything. But consciously reminding yourself this will pass and it’s only what you’re needing to do right now – not forever – definitely makes it easier to cope with.
Remember, mamas: a bad moment does not mean a bad day, and a bad day does not mean a bad life.
I’m not Buddhist, but I do love the Buddhist quote:
“You should meditate for one hour each day.
Unless you are too busy.
Then you should meditate for two hours.”
I encourage – in fact, I challenge – you to find a way to bring a tiny bit more mindfulness into your life. What will you start with? Are you mindful already? Let me know below 👇👇
Until next time, glow mamas.