Written by Yan
A former doctor and dedicated yogi. Yan has traveled the world volunteering and practicing at mindfulness centres, intense silent meditation courses, ashrams and monastic retreats; experiencing yoga, pranayama and meditation around the world under different teachers and gurus in Thailand, Hong Kong, Nepal, India and Europe. Her inquiring mind has led her to experience most types of yoga, including Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, hot yoga, satyananda, sivananda, Kundalini, Yin yoga, Yoga therapy and Yoga Nidra.
Yan’s belief is that to live a full yogic life is medicine for the mind, body and soul, leading you on the path to unconditional love, peace and happiness.
To follow her yogic journey and inspirational discoveries, follow her on Facebook here.
The Mindful Mummy
To all you beautiful mothers out there,
Congratulations! My deepest respect and love to you all for taking on the enormous task of bringing a little soul back into this magnificent world. Through pregnancy and birth you have given the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. Feel gratitude for all your strength and endurance and give patience and compassion towards yourself on your sacred journey through motherhood.
I have no doubt that on par with the loving intention you all bear and the selfless acts of devotion to your little one, there will be moments of wobble and dither, nail biting, fist clenching, bashing head against table and just plain hiding under the bed sheets. You are after all, a human mummy and so feeling a roller coaster of emotions is completely normal. In bringing mindfulness into the household, we can become more present, see life with more clarity and come into a space of being that allows us to feel a grounding sense of peace and acceptance for any moment, however calm or chaotic.
What it means to be mindful
In mindfulness, we come into a state of pure being. In being, we are in the here and now and fully present. When present, we are conscious and aware. Awareness is simply noticing and knowing, beyond any thought, feeling, label or judgement that may arise. Mindfulness is not however, about silencing the mind by forcing it to stop. The mind will continue to perceive and think, just as the body continues to breathe and move. We do however, have the capacity to remain present and aware of the mind and any objects that arise in the mind. If thoughts, feelings, judgements and beliefs arise, we can simply observe them, just as we would observe our breath and body. In this mindful state of awareness, we are no longer the tamed subject of our mind but we expand beyond it, to objectively observe it and embrace it for what it is. We know we have arrived into being when there is a sense of inner silence, stillness, emptiness and spaciousness.
It’s important to know that being mindful is not about being a saintly mum. It is not about doing or emanating the positive qualities that come from mindfulness. If we are unhappy changing diapers, we do not force ourselves to be happy. If we are not peaceful getting up in the night, we do not try to force ourselves to feel peace. If we have indiscretions, we should not judge our actions, and if we catch ourselves daydreaming we should not feel guilty. Mindfulness is beyond right or wrong and good or bad, there is simply a nudge to wake up and notice whatever meets our experience. Mindfulness watches non-judgmentally like an accepting and compassionate angel in our heart. To this angel, we can do no wrong, there is only complete and utter love and compassion for us and all that surrounds us.
Through mindfulness, our awareness heightens and we begin to see and understand not only our individual human experience but also the movement of all of life around us and we see clearly our dynamic connection with it. We come to know the reality and truth of how this beautiful universe unfolds. In a super-conscious state, we realise our one true self and there is a deep peace, contentment, liberation and freedom from suffering that comes from knowing; there is love without condition.
With the insight that comes from mindfulness, we have the power to authentically choose and create our reality and a conscious mum is more able to act from that space of unconditional love for her child, herself, her family and friends and everything else in this universe.
Parenting with awareness – How to make it work
- The first thing I would recommend is to convince yourself that it is beneficial. Get curious, read more about it, talk to others who have experienced it and try a class or course to experience it firsthand for yourself. There is no forcing mindfulness, we have to really see the value in it and want to do it with a genuine heartfelt intention and faith that it is serving us in a positive way. Only then will mindfulness manifest into our reality.
- Use the breath as your anchor to the present moment. The breath is always with us and if we are aware of it, we are conscious. As you inhale, notice the air entering the nose and the rising of the chest and belly and know that you are breathing in. As you exhale notice the air leaving the nose and the falling of the chest and belly and know that you are breathing out. You could try this with your child, becoming aware of the both of you breathing together. Notice how awareness of your breath heightens your present awareness of yourself, your child and the things around you. Look at it as a ‘checking-in to being’. When the mind wanders, check-in with the breath. When there is strong emotion, check-in with the breath. When you are talking, laughing or crying with your child, check-in with the breath. Even when you are peaceful and calm, check-in with the breath. There is no need to change a thing, just patiently check-in to being in every moment possible. Like this, we are simply adding consciousness back to creation.
- Set up a mindful space in a quiet corner of your home where you can sit in peace undisturbed for a few moments in the day. Make it inviting and soothing with cushions and if you want, any object or picture that brings a sense of calm to your being. Eventually we want to move away from ritual, associations and formality, but in the beginning it can certainly serve as a reminder to take a few moments out for yourself in mindfulness.
- Start a routine 5-10 minute sitting practice once or twice a day, exercising full awareness of the breath. In the beginning especially, routine can help us to remember and exercise our will power to ‘wake up’. As it becomes more natural, it can even trigger spontaneous moments of mindfulness throughout the day. If a regular time wont work, perhaps you could do it in the first 5 minutes whenever your child falls asleep and feel free to make use of alerts and reminders if you feel it will help.
- Start to slowly integrate it into your daily life. Mindfulness practice should not be limited to seated meditation. In fact, the only way to incorporate mindfulness into our everyday life is to simply begin practicing it in our everyday life. Start by choosing one thing each week to practice being fully present and aware of. That experience could include walking with your child, dressing them, feeding and eating together or cooking for the family. Find the present moment where the breath resides and in being, you will increasingly notice the infinite details of the now.
- And remember to always approach every effort of mindfulness in motherhood with patience, love, compassion and gratitude towards yourself and your experience. We can only love others as much as we can love ourselves. If there is ever any doubt about how to deal with a situation, just ask yourself, ‘what would love do?’ and take it from there.
All my love on your beautiful journey. xxx