Guest Post by Dr Elise Bialylew
Motherhood is an exhilarating spiritual journey of epic proportions where each day we are faced with the privilege of witnessing our most creative project flourish.
That’s on a good day.
On a bad day it’s an exhausting, frustrating ride where we are tested beyond our limits through sleep deprivation, mastitis, stress, relationship tension, and self doubt.
Mindfulnss 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.
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 relationship
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.
Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance — Eckhart Tolle
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. We can watch in full presence and awe at our little children learning new skills, like how to use a spoon, and suddenly the morning porridge ritual becomes a miraculous spectacle. 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 the little miracles that are there in every moment, if only we remembered to pay attention.
As we practice mindfulness in motherhood, we model a powerful skill to our children supporting them to meet life with greater wisdom, self-compassion, and resilience.
This article by Dr Elise Bialylew was originally published here: 4 ways mindfulness can help you manage the emotional rollercoaster ride of motherhood
Would you like to find out how mindfulness can help you?
You might have heard of mindfulness or meditation before, but have you incorporated it into your life?
Every year in May, people all over the globe commit to meditating for 10 minutes a day through a program called Mindful in May, founded by Dr Elise Bialylew. So far they program has inspired over 30,000 people from 35 countries to learn mindfulness.
Mindful in May brings together the world’s best meditation experts, neuroscientist, and wisdom teachers and also inspires participants to raise money to bring clean, safe water to those in need. So far they’ve raised over $600,000, and brought clean water to over 10,000 people!
That means it creates a clear mind for you, and clean water for others.
To kick off the global campaign, a FREE 5 Days To Mindfulness Program runs from April 9-13th. By becoming part of it, this is what you’ll get:
- Daily encouragement emails for 5-days including guided meditations
- Two live guided meditations with Dr Elise Bialylew, doctor and mindfulness expert
- A two part video interview with world leading neuroscientist, Michael Merzenich
- Access to an online community (get your questions answered and be supported)
Science says practicing mindfulness will:
- Reduce your stress (and its negative impact on your body)
- Improve your focus and performance
- Increase your sense of purpose and meaning
- Help you tame your brain
I hope you will consider giving this opportunity a try. I’m looking forward to it and hope we can both be more mindfully inspired together.
Below are some more articles written by Dr Elise Bialylew, founder of Mindful in May:
- Five world leading mindfulness teachers share their tips on Mindfulness Meditation
- Five scientific reasons to practise Mindfulness
- How to practise mindfulness in daily life
- Four ways mindfulness can make you happier
- Six ways mindfulness meditation can make you a better entrepreneur
- How to mindfully manage a tantrum
- Mindfulness for social media addiction
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Thank you for sharing this! My name is Tere and practicing mindfulness was one of the things that changed my life!
I had a high-risk pregnancy and was diagnosed pre-eclampsia at week 20. We had a pretty devastating prognosis and among the things I did to try to hold on was mindfullness.
My son was born at 31 weeks and, again, we had to be the best versions of ourselves we could be to help him out of the NICU. He was in there for a month and a half, and we incorporated mindfullness every day in our routine. He then overcame a series of medical diagnosis.
Now he’s a toddler, and we get to practice mindfullness to raise him and teach him (ah! the temper tantrums!). We are big advocates of this practice since we can vouch for the huge difference it has made into our lives!
This is a beautifully insightful read. So many amazing points made but two that really stick out are the need for increased self-compassion, and releasing things that are out of our control (love the comparison to backpacking India). While motherhood brings extraordinary gifts, challenges are an undeniable piece of it. Mindfulness can keep the boat together and afloat when (normal) waves come rocking. As kids get older, bringing them into mindfulness practice is beneficial for them and the whole family.
Love this post, Elise! Motherhood is a tough job. Be have to be watchful and attentive all the time.
Thank you very much for sharing this! My name is Apoorv, and one of the things that changed my life was to practice awareness! Many points made but two that really stick out are the need for increased self-compassion and the release of things that are beyond our control (love the India backpacking comparison). Although motherhood brings outstanding gifts, challenges are an undeniable part of it.
Ramya Ravindra Barithaya
Love the post…. Appreciate your post