As my first Mother's Day approaches, I realize I have a choice about how I meet the day. I can lump it in with all of the other holidays and layer on expectations and ideas of what the perfect day would be like. Or, I can shift and greet this new day with acceptance and mindfulness. Since this is my first Mother's Day, I have a chance to set the tone for Mother's Days to come. Instead of creating expectations of what may or may not come to be, I will set a few intentions for my day.
May I spend my first Mother's Day in gratitude.
May I pause and enjoy the moments of this day.
May I spend the day free of technology.
For me, spending the day on a technology fast will support my intentions to be grateful and to be fully present for my first Mother's Day. It's all too easy to allow a screen to call my attention instead.
I have much to be grateful for...
About a month ago, I set my intention to breastfeed mindfully. Initially, I thought it would be good to pause and do a lovingkindness meditation. I also got the idea from the book Mindfulness To Go to take and count four breaths when I'm breastfeeding as a way to become more present. Breathe in—one. Breath out—one. Breathe in—two. Breath out—two, etc.
My intention was mostly in response to my cell phone use and distracted thinking while I breastfed. Shortly after Stevie was born, I found myself frantically searching online for answers to my many new mama questions. Was this colic? How much spitting up is normal? Does my baby have gas, and what can I do about it? And so on. I had a hard time finding another time to look things up, so I picked up my phone while I breastfed.
Now that Stevie is five months old, we understand each other better even though I still have lots of questions. I don't feel as desperate to find answers outside of the two of us. I still look things up, but I don't feel like I need to do this when I'm breastfeeding. My phone habit while breastfeeding has extended to texting, looking on Facebook, checking my email, etc. Spending time on those activities while my little guy eats is not at all rewarding. And, I know this time is precious because babies change so very quickly.
Knowing this, why do I still have a hard time putting my phone down and not distracting myself while I feed my baby? I can't say that I have an answer, but I feel like there's a cultural norm to grasp for more. We seek immediate gratification, and with technology, we think we can have it on-demand, 24-7.
I know I enjoy my days and moments most when I am unplugged. In nature. Spending time with my husband. Talking to a friend. Cooking. Gardening. So, I choose to make a change. I choose to pause and to breathe and to send loving thoughts to myself, my baby, and my husband. May our little family be happy. May our little family be healthy. May our little family be safe.
When I remember to pause and make this my practice, I feel a sense of peace and contentment. Until a week ago, I hadn't remembered to post any visiual reminders to pause and check in while breastfeeding. It has already started to help me remember to slow down and be present even when I'm not in the spot where my reminder is.
“When you're walking, Just Walk; When You're Birthing, Just Birth.” This is the title of a chapter from Nancy Bardacke's book Mindful Birthing. This book was an invaluable tool for me while I was preparing for childbirth. This chapter title stuck with me. It's simple but to the point. When you're doing something, give it—and only it—your full attention. Probably my best reminder to stay present while breastfeeding is to have a note that says:
“When you're breastfeeding, just breastfeed.”
Is there an area of your life where you'd like to be more fully present?
I'm Joanna, mother of Stevie, born at the end of October 2014. I'm the mama behind Colorado Mindful Mama. Or maybe I should say I aspire to be her.
I started this blog to help me stay on a mindful path in spite of being a mother. More precisely, I want to be present for all of the moments of motherhood—for the challenging times when I am up every two hours like the last two nights and for the sweet ones like when Stevie gives me a huge toothless smile while breastfeeding.
My husband and I started our mindfulness and meditation journey four years ago at an Intro to Meditation retreat at the Himalayan Institute. Learning to meditate was my vehicle for becoming more present in my daily life—essentially practicing mindfulness.
Since that weekend retreat, I have meditated most days. This has surprised me because I'm exceptionally good at starting things. I'm not nearly as good at sticking with things I've started. I tend to dabble. But, with meditation and mindfulness, I am learning to accept myself and my life as it is. This practice has helped me to realize I have a choice each moment about how I'm going to respond to what shows up in my life. I do not have to follow old patterns and “jump down the rabbit hole” with a knee-jerk response that I have had so many times before. If I'm present, I have a chance to shift my response. I have a chance to change. They say it's a sign of insanity to do the same thing and expect a different outcome. Mindfulness and meditation are my way of seeking a better outcome in my life.
I find I tend to be a bit of a crab when I don't get my daily self-care time to stretch, do some yoga, and sit (meditate.) This is especially the case now that I'm living on less sleep than I could have ever imagined. I have always loved my sleep. I still do—I just don't get much.
I digress. This blog is a space where I will share my attempt at living mindfully now that I have joined the sisterhood called motherhood. I hope to offer truth, insights I make, some humor, and ultimately I hope it will help me to stay on this path that has been so life-changing for me.
I hope you will join me on this journey of discovery, whether you are a parent or not. If the last few months are any indication of how the future will be, this ride will be full of ups and downs with a good deal of absurdity mixed in. In other words, it will be humbling.
P.S. If you are a local Colorado Springs area parent, check out the Mindful Parenting Meetup group I started. www.meetup.com/COSMindfulParenting/
I'm Joanna, a coach and a movement teacher, wife, mom, nature-lover, gardener, photographer, daily meditator, and wild food forager. I aspire to help you live our life grounded in love, creativity, and joy.