Motherhood can be an exhilarating spiritual journey, where each day we have the privilege of witnessing our most creative project flourish.
That’s on a good day.
Mindfulness has been a crucial part of my motherhood survival tool kit, not only in managing the emotional dips but also in enabling me to appreciate the daily magic. Although motherhood brings significant challenges to a regular mindfulness meditation practice, it can be integrated into daily life in a way that supports greater wisdom, presence and ease. Dr Elise Bialylew shares tips on how you can manage the emotional roller coaster ride of motherhood.
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Here are four ways mindfulness can help you better manage the rollercoaster ride of motherhood.
Accepting what is out of your control
A friend once likened motherhood to backpacking around India: “as long as you accept that fact that most of the time nothing is going to go to plan you’ll be right”. If you’re someone that fancies a plan or a schedule, new motherhood can be a rude shock. That’s where mindfulness, the practice of coming into the present moment and meeting it with acceptance and compassion, is a great support. When things aren’t going the way you’d like and you feel frustration or impatience building, mindfulness can bring you back into your body, and help you release the physical tension to regain your cool.
Developing greater self compassion
A fundamental aspect of practising mindfulness is to meet your moment to moment experience with kindness and compassion. When dealing with the many challenges that come with motherhood, self compassion is a powerful antidote to any feelings of inadequacy that can arise. Rather than being bullied by your inner self critic, practise being your own best friend. The next time you feel like you’ve fallen short of how you’d like to be mothering, put your hand on your heart and silently whisper to yourself “this is tough but I’m doing the best I can and just like everyone else I’m not perfect”.
Communicating more effectively in relationships
Having children puts stress on relationships and under stress communication can get seriously impaired. There are actually neurobiological reasons for this. The fight or flight response, driven by our amygdala, is a reflex response which gets activated when we sense a threat in our environment. This response evolved to protect us from danger. However, this warning system has not changed for about 100,000 years and nowadays rather than the threat of physical predators, we face psychological stressors, like arguments with our partners when we’re exhausted and still adjusting to the new reality of motherhood. When the stress response is triggered our higher brain functioning regions, including the prefrontal cortex, go offline. A key to better communicating under pressure, is developing the capacity of this part of the brain, which supports us to stay cool under pressure and communicate with greater calm and wisdom.
Regular mindfulness meditation has been shown to increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with higher level brain functions such as the capacity to calm ourselves down in the heat of an emotion and communicate and problem solve with greater effectiveness.
The daily routine and challenges of motherhood can easily make you numb to the miracle that you actually created a human being! Mindfulness helps us slow down and absorb the miracle of creation in each moment. Whether it’s being more present to the delight of a child playing with bubbles, or taking a moment to listen to the peaceful sound of their breath when sleeping, mindfulness can deepen our appreciation of every moment.
As we practice mindfulness in motherhood, we also model a powerful skill to our children supporting them to meet life with greater wisdom, self-compassion, and resilience.
Get Mindful In May
Regular mindfulness meditation, rather than duration provides the most benefit. Just 10 minutes a day, every day, is more likely to improve your sense of wellbeing than 30 minutes once a week.
‘Mindful In May’ is a great way to get started – or reboot your practice. This global meditation challenge has taught thousands of people to meditate for 10 minutes a day; while raising funds to bring clean, safe water to developing nations. One in 10 people globally do not have access to clean water.
Create more focus, clarity and calm in your life with a month of inspiring content to nourish your soul and introduce you to world leaders in wellbeing; along with daily motivation and coaching to support your new mindful habit.