In 2017 I worked with many female clients - most of them mothers or teachers (or both!) - who all desired to feel more ease, calm and balance in their busy lives. When you think about balance it's about not having too much of one thing over another - too much busyness requires the opposite (stillness) to balance it out. Meditation was on all of their radars. Most had tried it but had found it too challenging or had gotten "too busy" to slot it into their life regularly.
I could completely relate because my own meditation practice only truly began about 4 years ago after 13 years of physical yoga practice. I couldn't go on living the way I was (which was an anxious, overthinking, self-limiting, stress-aholic, perfectionist)! So I committed to a daily seated practice, starting with just 5 minutes. I also decided to do a short pranayama (yogic breathing) practice before I sat still to try and calm and focus my rabid mind.
When I committed, my whole world changed. Well, my experience of the world did - nothing else externally changed initially. After a while I lengthened my daily practice. And I fell in love.
If you are at the point of feeling “something needs to change” this year then maybe meditation is that change.
I read this in a book by John O'Donohue the other day:
'When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you. Your forgotten or neglected inner wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and rest within.'
This has been my experience 100%.
When I first tried meditation I couldn't sit still because my mind was so active and I was scared of what the hell was going on in there. I think many of us fear the solitude of meditation - it’s just us on our cushion....nothing to hide behind.
I thought I "couldn't do it properly" so I stopped trying. It was so uncomfortable for me. But I've come to use my mental activity as a measure of how far off track I've allowed myself to get. How distracted and fragmented. I just notice and be with it. And then I can make some changes in my daily life to get back on track. It's a great mirror.
I've come to see the mental chatter as like the whitecaps on the surface of the ocean on a windy day - if you dive deeper the water is serene underneath all the froth. It's waiting in peace. And let's face it - in the busy-ness of today's world we all have a fair bit of "froth" to dive under. Sometimes it feels like it's constantly windy too (and if you're a mum, particularly of boys, that statement is more than just a metaphor)!!
Meditation is diving with your mask on - you can see so much clearer. And you get more comfortable with diving the more you do it. It becomes familiar and feels like home. Although the thoughts arise they are more like bubbles floating to the surface.
Interrupting Reactive Patterns
Meditation is also a pattern interrupter. We start to relate to our world differently and move through our day with more awareness and space. Space to respond to our kids rather than REACT - and we've all been stuck in that pattern...... especially at bedtime when you think it’s done and dusted and someone calls out “Mum, I need a drink”....or when having to treat head lice for the 23rd time and it's only June. Everybody loves Byron Bay but none more than the nimble nit. They reign supreme here. But I digress...
If you would like to be more present for your kids, calmer in your daily activities and clearer headed in 2018 then here are my suggestions for settling the nervous system and beginning to make time for being still. You will never look back if you commit to a daily practice, however small.
Tips for Starting a Daily Practice
* You could start by practising deep abdominal breathing, breathing deep into the belly for 5 counts and breathing out for 5 counts - when you wake up and before going to sleep. Try 10 rounds. This soothes your nervous system, triggering the relaxation response. It takes around 2 minutes.
* Start small. Create 1 or 2 minute pockets of stillness and silence in your day and just sit, eyes closed. Have a trigger for when you will do it so that it becomes a habit. Once it's habitual you can increase your time. Commit. When you wake first thing in the morning is a good time, before distractions or excuses creep in. Other times might be after lunch or before bed.
* Create a list of things that are distracting you - taking up or wasting time that might be better spent in stillness. Each week you could pick one off the list to remove from your life gradually or replace it with meditation. The more distracted you are the harder it is to sit still.
* Take note of the benefits you are feeling as a result of these pockets of stillness. Notice any difference from the days you skip it. The benefits will provide motivation to stick with it and embed it in your daily routine. Everyday.
If you know that you find it difficult to sit still in silence (even for 2 minutes) I've created a simple, 5 minute meditation for busy mamas that you can receive if you subscribe to my email list. I'll guide you through a calming, centring, morning micro-practice.
If you are feeling like you want to make some changes in your life but need support and accountability then check out my coaching offerings for 2018. Sometimes you just need someone beside you saying "You can do it" and holding you accountable to what you say you want.