This level of responsibility is exhausting; it can cause us to doubt ourselves and our abilities. Mothers often fall into the trap of putting the needs of others before their own, adding mental and emotional exhaustion to the physical requirements of motherhood.
Mindfulness has long been a cornerstone of many Eastern practices including yoga and tai-chi. Mindfulness works both to quiet the mind and increase one's ability to be fully present in each moment. For the often hectic and always demanding lives of mothers, mindfulness exists as a practice with the capacity to greatly enhance one's quality of life. And when mamas are happier, kids and families are happier too.
At its simplest, mindfulness can be defined as a mental state of awareness. Imagine a day when your morning begins with peace instead of chaos. A day when while driving, you are focused solely on the road and not a grocery list, bills needing payment, or things that must be returned. Mindfulness meditation works to clear the mind of everything - everything except being. In a role where we answer hundreds of questions a day and consistently find ourselves distracted by others' needs, mothers tend to lose time.
Mindfulness bring attention to each and every moment, providing the tools individuals need to appreciate time rather than feel chained by it.
Benefits of Mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness offers many benefits; however the most valuable benefit is that of being fully present in each moment. Other documented benefits include the following:
Being mindful can reduce an individual's stress level. Decreased stress can lead to better sleep, more positive social interactions, and lower blood pressure. Many medical conditions can be triggered or exacerbated by stress as well such as headaches, chronic fatigue, and hypertension just to name a few. Reducing stress levels is a key step in improving both emotional and physical health.
Related: 5 Mindful Tips to Strengthen Your Family
Decreased Emotional Reactivity
Mindfulness trains the brain to be and to observe rather than react. This translates to slower emotional reaction because the brain first observes, then processes, and then may choose to react. Think of mindfulness as the brain's way of breathing deeply. Practitioners of mindfulness report that they often notice a decrease in emotional reactivity when experiencing a trying situation. For moms, this translates to better emotional responses when dealing with tantrums, stubbornness, or other potentially emotionally trying situations.
The brain is like any other muscle in the body; if you exercise it, muscle grows and increases its capacity to lift. When consciously activating the brain, the brain's ability to function increases. In other words, suddenly the brain decides to be on deck - just 10 to 15 minutes of mindfulness a day has led to tested results in better memory. Mom brain is a real thing - moms are so busy trying to remember things for everyone else sometimes our memory revolts. Reclaim your brain's ability with mindfulness meditation!
Routinely engaging in this meditation practice may lead to heightened focus. This can result in more present conversations with others, better attention when driving, and an increased capacity to learn new skills. Increased focus means less distractions, which ultimately leads to more time!
The ability to truly see ourselves for who we are versus who we think we are is a gift; mindful meditation can help mamas work to identify aspects of themselves they'd like to change and do it without guilt. Self-observation is the ability to notice and acknowledge a behavior without judgement - negative or positive. This skill is crucial in one's ability to initiate meaningful change.
Related: How to Practice Mindfulness Outdoors with Children
Interested in reading more, or looking for resources to begin a mindfulness practice of your own? Check out these three great resources online:
- Psychology Today
This site has curated some of the best, vetted content written by field experts regarding mindfulness, its benefits, and studies proving its effectiveness.
- American Psychological Association
This content examines the current empirical research validating mindfulness and its benefits. Additionally, the site links to hundreds of resources on mindfulness.
- Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center
This fantastic resource defines mindfulness and provides both text and video exploring the topic. It provides a balanced approach as well as a quiz that rates your current mindfulness level.
How to Start Practicing Mindfulness
Beginners should aim to set aside 10 to 15 minutes daily to begin their mindfulness meditation. A quick web search will reveal recommended books, videos, and websites for however you learn new material best. In addition, with the rise of mindfulness's popularity, you may be able to find mindfulness classes locally; check out local yoga or other wellness-focused businesses - they may offer classes or workshops on mindful meditation.
Shutting out the world, as well as our own nagging selves can be a difficult task. However, it's not a unrealistic quest. Mindfulness's most precious benefit to mamas is its ability to encourage fully being - being you. There's only one of you, and you have gifts to give. In a world rife with distraction, we need to relearn how to simply acknowledge ourselves, and accept that we are enough.