On Becoming an Aspiring Mindful Mama


Welcome to the First Mindful Mama Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZParticipants are writing posts about what mindful practices mean to them, how they parent mindfully, obstacles to mindful practice and experiences along the way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I became a mother a mere fifteen months ago and, while I positively love this life, I’ve found that it makes for a great many demands on my time. I remember, prior to motherhood, when issues would arise and I would actually be able to spend time thinking about them. I might respond to a situation in a way that I didn’t like, so I would stop and think about what I could have done differently. These days, I’m faced with situations of one kind or another in increasingly rapid succession, and not only do I sometimes respond in ways that are less than ideal, but I find that I don’t have a whole lot of time to stop and reflect on those responses.
Mothering aside, the past year brought up some deeply painful and challenging issues in my life that I have been unable to write about here because the stories are not mine to share with the world. Suffice it to say that there has been a great deal weighing on my heart. Between the demands of motherhood and the challenges of these other issues, I have spent days here and there feeling like I was barely staying afloat, drifting in a sea of overwhelm. I am thankful for those days because they showed me that something had to change.

While pregnant, I had prepared for my daughter’s birth using the Hypnobabies Home Study Course, which included a number of different relaxation scripts. I uploaded these to my ipod and spent some quiet time each night listening to them and focusing on relaxing my body and reprogramming my mind. This practice helped to all but eliminate my fears related to childbirth, not by making me forget them, but by allowing me to face them head on, and then replace them with facts and positive images instead. At the height of my new mother overwhelm, I began searching for resources that would help me relax in a similar way.
I did some looking around and decided to purchase  The Mindfulness Workbook: A Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Fear and Embracing Compassion. I read the first several pages and all the while I could feel myself squirming with discomfort inside. The author spoke of going with the flow of our experiences, and responding mindfully instead of simply reacting to them. I have always tended not only to react to experiences, but to overreact and attempt to take control of the situation. I could tell that what I was reading was going to force me to look at these reactions and overreactions, and that I wasn’t going to be able to ignore what I saw. I jumped right in to the book, and tried the practices it suggested for a couple of days. I thought how valuable it would be for me to use what I was learning  as part of a daily sitting practice, a regular time for reflection and meditation. I even decided when and where I could fit it into my day. And then I moved on.
I’m not sure if I failed to put my plan into action because I was afraid of the change I knew it would bring about in my life, or if I simply forgot because I was busy with my day-to-day responsibilities. Either way, weeks passed as that book became a doorstop in my bedroom. Each time I walked by, I saw it sitting there, serving as a constant reminder that I needed to slow down and learn to take time for the work of mindfulness. What’s funny is that unlike many other books I have started and never finished, this one refused to disappear from view on a shelf somewhere and be forgotten. I needed this one, and fortunately it stayed right there where I would see it.
Finally, I spoke to my husband and we agreed on a specific time each day when he would focus on our daughter so that I could focus on me. So far, I have simply gone into our bedroom and worked with one of the practices in that book. I am only a week into this new routine, but already I feel so much better. It’s not about the book, though it has been a useful tool, but there’s something about knowing that I’ll have the time each day to just sit and reflect and be in my own presence that makes the pressures of the day more akin to an easy flow. It makes me less likely to react, and more likely to stop and think about how I will respond, or even let go of the need to respond altogether. I have many years, perhaps a lifetime to go before I learn to truly accept the flow of my experiences instead of fighting for control against the inevitable, but it feels good to be trying.
Photo Credit:  Brandi Dale Photography
Used by Creative Commons License

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Mindful Mama Blog CarnivalVisit TouchstoneZ to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

16 thoughts on “On Becoming an Aspiring Mindful Mama

  1. Kelly & Dave

    Oh my goodness Melissa – I LOVE this post!

    First of all, we are very similar. :)

    And that last paragraph summed up everything for me – it is SO hard for me to do certain things when I know I may be interrupted by the need of my little one (not that I resent that in any way) – but I just find it easier not to start than to start and likely be interrupted. I think it's a brilliant idea to specifically get that time from your partner – usually when my husband is watching Bean I'm online or trying to get dinner done or something – but I'm sure that even a 15 or 20 minute window taken to purposefully be mindful would be an amazing opportunity. I am definitely going to start doing that!

    I am also someone who reacts – often in anger – and I just do not want to be that person. This is so inspiring and helpful – both to know I'm not alone :) – and to have that gentleness in that it will be breaking lifetime habits and will need time…I tend to get impatient when things don't work right away!

    Thank you for your post Melissa – I hope it all goes well for you!

    Reply
  2. Kelly & Dave

    Oh my goodness Melissa – I LOVE this post!

    First of all, we are very similar. :)

    And that last paragraph summed up everything for me – it is SO hard for me to do certain things when I know I may be interrupted by the need of my little one (not that I resent that in any way) – but I just find it easier not to start than to start and likely be interrupted. I think it's a brilliant idea to specifically get that time from your partner – usually when my husband is watching Bean I'm online or trying to get dinner done or something – but I'm sure that even a 15 or 20 minute window taken to purposefully be mindful would be an amazing opportunity. I am definitely going to start doing that!

    I am also someone who reacts – often in anger – and I just do not want to be that person. This is so inspiring and helpful – both to know I'm not alone :) – and to have that gentleness in that it will be breaking lifetime habits and will need time…I tend to get impatient when things don't work right away!

    Thank you for your post Melissa – I hope it all goes well for you!

    Reply
  3. Kelly & Dave

    Oh my goodness Melissa – I LOVE this post!

    First of all, we are very similar. :)

    And that last paragraph summed up everything for me – it is SO hard for me to do certain things when I know I may be interrupted by the need of my little one (not that I resent that in any way) – but I just find it easier not to start than to start and likely be interrupted. I think it's a brilliant idea to specifically get that time from your partner – usually when my husband is watching Bean I'm online or trying to get dinner done or something – but I'm sure that even a 15 or 20 minute window taken to purposefully be mindful would be an amazing opportunity. I am definitely going to start doing that!

    I am also someone who reacts – often in anger – and I just do not want to be that person. This is so inspiring and helpful – both to know I'm not alone :) – and to have that gentleness in that it will be breaking lifetime habits and will need time…I tend to get impatient when things don't work right away!

    Thank you for your post Melissa – I hope it all goes well for you!

    Reply
  4. Kelly & Dave

    Oh my goodness Melissa – I LOVE this post!

    First of all, we are very similar. :)

    And that last paragraph summed up everything for me – it is SO hard for me to do certain things when I know I may be interrupted by the need of my little one (not that I resent that in any way) – but I just find it easier not to start than to start and likely be interrupted. I think it's a brilliant idea to specifically get that time from your partner – usually when my husband is watching Bean I'm online or trying to get dinner done or something – but I'm sure that even a 15 or 20 minute window taken to purposefully be mindful would be an amazing opportunity. I am definitely going to start doing that!

    I am also someone who reacts – often in anger – and I just do not want to be that person. This is so inspiring and helpful – both to know I'm not alone :) – and to have that gentleness in that it will be breaking lifetime habits and will need time…I tend to get impatient when things don't work right away!

    Thank you for your post Melissa – I hope it all goes well for you!

    Reply
  5. Kelly & Dave

    Oh my goodness Melissa – I LOVE this post!

    First of all, we are very similar. :)

    And that last paragraph summed up everything for me – it is SO hard for me to do certain things when I know I may be interrupted by the need of my little one (not that I resent that in any way) – but I just find it easier not to start than to start and likely be interrupted. I think it's a brilliant idea to specifically get that time from your partner – usually when my husband is watching Bean I'm online or trying to get dinner done or something – but I'm sure that even a 15 or 20 minute window taken to purposefully be mindful would be an amazing opportunity. I am definitely going to start doing that!

    I am also someone who reacts – often in anger – and I just do not want to be that person. This is so inspiring and helpful – both to know I'm not alone :) – and to have that gentleness in that it will be breaking lifetime habits and will need time…I tend to get impatient when things don't work right away!

    Thank you for your post Melissa – I hope it all goes well for you!

    Reply
  6. Kelly & Dave

    Oh my goodness Melissa – I LOVE this post!

    First of all, we are very similar. :)

    And that last paragraph summed up everything for me – it is SO hard for me to do certain things when I know I may be interrupted by the need of my little one (not that I resent that in any way) – but I just find it easier not to start than to start and likely be interrupted. I think it's a brilliant idea to specifically get that time from your partner – usually when my husband is watching Bean I'm online or trying to get dinner done or something – but I'm sure that even a 15 or 20 minute window taken to purposefully be mindful would be an amazing opportunity. I am definitely going to start doing that!

    I am also someone who reacts – often in anger – and I just do not want to be that person. This is so inspiring and helpful – both to know I'm not alone :) – and to have that gentleness in that it will be breaking lifetime habits and will need time…I tend to get impatient when things don't work right away!

    Thank you for your post Melissa – I hope it all goes well for you!

    Reply
  7. Kelly & Dave

    Oh my goodness Melissa – I LOVE this post!

    First of all, we are very similar. :)

    And that last paragraph summed up everything for me – it is SO hard for me to do certain things when I know I may be interrupted by the need of my little one (not that I resent that in any way) – but I just find it easier not to start than to start and likely be interrupted. I think it's a brilliant idea to specifically get that time from your partner – usually when my husband is watching Bean I'm online or trying to get dinner done or something – but I'm sure that even a 15 or 20 minute window taken to purposefully be mindful would be an amazing opportunity. I am definitely going to start doing that!

    I am also someone who reacts – often in anger – and I just do not want to be that person. This is so inspiring and helpful – both to know I'm not alone :) – and to have that gentleness in that it will be breaking lifetime habits and will need time…I tend to get impatient when things don't work right away!

    Thank you for your post Melissa – I hope it all goes well for you!

    Reply
  8. Shana

    You wrote: "I have always tended not only to react to experiences, but to overreact and attempt to take control of the situation." That is so like me! I am definitely interested in that book now. Thanks for the post and the idea.

    Reply
  9. Rachael Nevins

    Best wishes in your new practice, Melissa!

    And control? Is so, so, so, so, so hard to give up. It pervades my mind. I especially notice it when I'm at the temple: I pay attention to EVERYTHING that's going on, in this weird, controlling way, as though if I weren't paying attention, something would go terribly wrong. Whereas in reality, all that I'm doing is standing there silently or chanting as the service unfolds around me.

    Reply
  10. One Rich Mother

    That does sound like an interesting book I will have to give it a look.
    Having that sort of connection with your spouse can be so powerful.  Some how I had forgotten about it until I read your post but earlier in my marriage the husband and I would spend time at night in prayer together and on the weekends we did medication together.  Somehow we lost touch with that…  Thanks for the reminder! : ) ((hug))

    Reply
  11. Patti @ Jazzy Mama

    Your post really resonates with me.  You have seen a need for change in your life and you are facing it.  You are engaging in your life and not just letting it happen to you or making excuses for that which you cannot control. 
    I sense that you are a deeply connected woman or conviction and strenght. 

    What a wonderful post!
    Freedom and Joy to you and yours.

    I

    Reply
  12. Terri Henry

    I'm happy you are making time for your new practice and arranging with your husband to give you the space to do so – great stuff!

    'drifting in a sea of overwhelm' oh yeah that's how I've been feeling in the past few days, having all the inspiration from  this mindful mama carnival is certainly timely.

    Reply
  13. amandametro

    I'm so happy you are finally able to take some time to focus on yourself. It is a must I know I'm missing in my life quite frequently and without it, I am much less of a mother. Bravo to you and keep at it!

    Reply
  14. MJ

    Good for you Melissa!!  What a powerful thing to do for yourself and I hope you let us know how these practices work out. Much love to you!

    Reply
  15. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ

    This is a wonderful post for the carnival. Thank you so much for participating!

    I really get what you're saying about getting caught up in everything and then coming from a place of reacting (and overreacting) instead of being proactive about things. It makes a huge difference in my ability to be patient and mindful with everyone (including myself) if I can look forward to some time to just be present without interruptions.

    "I have many years, perhaps a lifetime to go before I learn to truly
    accept the flow of my experiences instead of fighting for control
    against the inevitable, but it feels good to be trying." Wow! Absolutely agree with this. The parallels you bring between pregnancy/birth and mindful parenting resonate with me, as well. We have to give up control completely at a certain point during birth and just get our minds out of the way of our bodies. I think at a certain point, we have to give up control and just BE while we're parenting, too. This is something I know I will be working on until I die (or achieve enlightenment. Ha!)

    Reply

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