Mindfulness hit the news recently, weirdly just a couple of days after I decided to start doing guided meditations again. I’ve used these meditations since I discovered them a few years ago and was having some stress and panic attacks at work. They really helped at the time, and even though I’ve not always had time to keep them up since having the Chicken, the technique of noticing the breath is something I’ve found myself doing whenever I need a little calm (Ha! frequently!) I’m yet to learn more about it, but I thought I’d share the things that I’ve found easiest to incorporate into daily life with a baby / toddler (I think she has a foot in both camps at the moment)!
1. Watching my daughter. Not interfering or directing. Just watching her going about her active business, singing as she goes and contemplating, as I do, how much joy she oozes without even trying. I think babies are mindful by nature – they focus intently on their own present moment and have not yet learned to manage their emotions, which they express freely and passionately.
2. Learning from my daughter to stop and notice things. We stop and stroke some leaves and talk about how they feel, what colour they are, if they smell, what do they feel like on our fingers or tongues, how does the light fall on them. Intensely focussed on the minutae of everyday life. It’s really calming.
3. Breathing. Noticing my breath whenever I get a moment to. The rhythm, the sound, the temperature, the sensation in my nostrils, the associated movements of my belly. The effortlessness of it. Just all the details.
Essentially it’s about being in the present – not ruminating on the past and not creating narratives about the future which can lead you to stress about things that might not even happen. I’m very prone to that way of thinking.
Last night I went to my first Yin Yoga class. We held sustained postures while focussing on the breath, which is harder than you think! I can immediately see the value of this when standing rocking a baby/toddler back to sleep at 3am, or when I feel the heat of frustration rising in my chest. I find it really hard to focus on my breath and stay centred and not lose it when every fibre of my body and mind just wants to crawl back into bed! Patience is not one of my finer qualities!
I’m not saying I’ve cracked it, and I definitely do not float about in zen like state of wonder at the universe. Far from it – I’m impatient, I get angry, I’m stroppy and I let all these things get me down sometimes. But I’m practising different ways of dealing with those feelings because I want to relate better with those I love, and I want to “be the change”.
Do you have anymore tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!