Updated: Feb 15, 2021
Happy February! This month, we are focusing on Mom Mindfulness, and in addition to learning and talking about #mindfulness, we will engage in conversation around self-love and mindful-mothering.
In this blog, we help you to understand what mindfulness is, as well as how to incorporate it into your day to day life. Each week this month we will be sharing with you a new mindfulness meditation practice to help bring a sense of peace and awareness to your busy life. We know how hectic being a mom can be, and here, we offer you some tips and techniques to design a mindful lifestyle for you and your family.
Mindfulness is practiced in countless ways yet there are threads of consistency among different disciplines. Giving mindfulness a singular definition will only limit its scope and possibility. Mindfulness is a practice of choosing your thoughts, resulting in more self-regulation, emotional control and general stress reduction (which we'll discuss more later this month). Often, mindfulness has themes such as cultivating compassion, being in the present moment, or creating a non-judgmental perspective. Mindfulness is a choice to tune-in to your present experience. This can be a very helpful practice for us moms who are thinking about and doing what feels like a million things at once - getting the kids ready for school while thinking about how to coordinate breakfast and a virtual work meeting that are happening at the same time.
DISCLOSURE: This information is not meant to be all-encompassing and should not replace seeking advice from your health care provider for specific questions, solutions, and concerns about your health! The purpose is to spark curiosity and gain some insight into your health.
What is mindfulness and how do you cultivate it?
Mindfulness begins with awareness. Skills of awareness can help you to see the world around you and how you fit in it! Awareness can help you see habits in your behavior and in your thoughts. Practicing awareness will help you see details in your surroundings. It can also help you solve a problem, based on what you see. The more you can see and describe your world and your thoughts, the less you will find yourself judging it. Mindfulness practices can be especially helpful for moms who find themselves judging their own parenting choices!
What can you do with awareness? You can make choices. It’s possible to disagree with your own thoughts. It’s also possible to learn from them. Some of your thoughts will be empowering and others will not. When you are aware of your thoughts, one choice is to hold the thought and nurture it, while another choice is to let that thought go. We all know that letting go of thoughts isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be! You can make the choice to nurture thoughts of gratitude, love, tranquility, and positivity, and let go of negativity. By choosing positive thoughts, you are designing the environment of your mind to be filled with love, beauty, and/or possibility!
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
Letting go of negative or pesky thoughts isn’t as easy as any of us would like. When you have them, can you train yourself to shoo them away? Maybe, but it takes practice. First, you need awareness that the pesky thought popped up again. Next, remember that you have a choice to hold and nurture that thought OR you can choose to let it go. Usually, when I let go of an old shirt, it’s because I have a new one to put in its place. Simply letting go of something is much more challenging than replacing it.
So, if you have a pesky thought, what will you choose to put in its place? It is possible to establish a new reflex. Many of us are trained in opposites. Salt – pepper . . . wet – dry . . . hot - cold. . .When you first notice a thought and then choose to replace it, what will you fill your mind with? “I can’t” becomes “I can”. “No, it is not” becomes “Yes, it is possible”. First you are aware of the thought. Then you choose to replace it. This process or redirection, with practice, becomes more automatic. Redirecting your mind to a thought you choose is another step in creating a mind-full of possibilities and positivity.
Mindfulness is a practice of choosing your thoughts.
How to use mindfulness to enhance daily life experiences - the example of dish washing
Everyone is distracted on occasion; however, cultivating mindful awareness can help limit the distraction. Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, Miracle of Mindfulness “The fact that I am standing here and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.” He was reflecting on times when, without running water, in freezing cold temperatures, he had to wash dishes after 100 monks had eaten. Instead of being grumpy about the process, he stood in the process and was aware of his role in washing the dishes. That is a time when the mind could “run away” as we all put little conscious thought and more habit or muscle memory into doing the dishes. We know as moms that cleaning up after everyone has eaten (and after perhaps we have also cooked) can make us grumpy. You can use mindfulness to make this into a pleasant and even peaceful chore. For example, doing the dishes also means there was food eaten, and for that, we can all offer gratitude. Our partner and children now have full, happy bellies that will help them to relax and fall asleep easily. Choosing to focus on the dishes, and include the reason for the dishes, can strengthen your stance and limit the turnings of the mind.
Design your mind - take charge of your thoughts
Mindfulness allows you to fill your mind with the thoughts of your choice. Having no thoughts at all can leave you feeling disconnected and empty. With practice, you may become aware of your replacement thoughts happening before the negative thoughts. Nurture and support these! You may notice when thoughts of anxiety arise, the time between feeling anxious and resolving into peacefulness gets shorter. Again, it sounds easy enough - but it's deceptively challenging. Allow yourself time and practice before dismissing the idea of mindfulness. It is a practice filled with positive potential!
Designing a mindfulness practice is also a choice. Do you want to cultivate a meditation practice or mindfulness in action? Work on skills of slowing down and noticing. Take time to breathe and notice how it feels. Look for light and love and beauty.
Over the next several weeks, we will provide you with four guided experiences to help you feel different forms of mindfulness.
Breath Focused – In breath-focused meditation, we will introduce you to a variety of ways to observe and modify the breath.
Metta Meditation – In metta meditation, we will help you focus your mind on love and compassion from a global to very personal experience.
Vipassana Inspired – In vipassana-inspired meditation, we will provide a sensory-focused practice to complete while snuggling with your child (born or unborn).
Mindfulness in Action – In mindfulness in action, we will help you practice mindfulness in your daily life, cultivate gratitude, and breathe while being productive and yet, not multitasking!
What style of mindfulness fits best in your life?
Which techniques fill your cup and help you feel reset?
The more techniques of mindfulness you learn, the more you can make a choice to not only design your thought patterns, but also design your mindfulness practice to respond to your needs in the current moment.
Please follow us on social media and continue learning about various mindfulness practices and how you can make a positive change in your life! Take a moment for YOU!