Mindfulness. It’s a word we busy mamas don’t always think about but it holds so much power.
A few weeks ago we held our first parenting class. We had the privilege of having Innerlinks Communication come to our clinic to discuss reflexes and the importance of mindfulness. After this class I was inspired to share with all of you my journey with mindfulness and how it can positively impact your life.
During my stay in New Zealand last year, I learned to be present. Initially, upon our arrival I felt lonely, lost, without a purpose, and removed from all that I have known. At times the days were long and sad, but without the distractions of my BUSY American life, I started to take note of the beautiful vistas outside my window. During my darkest hours, I would sit with my cup of tea in a chair facing the harbor, with the windows open, and learned to be still for 5-10 min. This took a lot of effort in the beginning, but with time it became part of my daily routine. With each passing day the clouds of sadness parted, I found my purpose in this far away land, and I thrived. I know this may sound insignificant, but my time in stillness led me to appreciate other things in my daily life, like being at home when the kids came home from school, cooking, walks by the water, time without work stress, etc. I spent more time in the present and less time mourning the past and fearing the future.
BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness has many meanings to many people. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
How many of us take a moment to be aware of our day? Not the daily schedule and the constant busy. I mean, appreciate The Day. If we are all being honest here, we don’t. So why would we devote our time to this word we hear often, but rarely put into practice.
Practicing mindfulness can:
- Decrease stress (LINK)
- Decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety (LINK)
- Boost your immune system (LINK)
- Improved academic success (LINK)
- Decrease burnout (LINK)
- Enhanced resilience in children (LINK)
- Improve Social Skills (LINK)
- Decrease in tantrums and emotional rage (LINK)
A day of mindfulness
The goal of the day is to live in the present. Thinking about and experiencing the current moment without stressing about the past or worrying about the future.
1. When you wake up…
- Feel: how do the sheets feel on your skin, are you hot or cold, do you feel any tension anywhere, how fluffy is your pillow
- Smell: do you smell your morning coffee, the smell of breakfast, essential oils, or maybe nothing at all
- Sound: can you hear the birds chirping, cars running, the air conditioning, the heat, a fan, are the sounds quiet or loud, soft or sharp
2. In the shower…
- Feel: Think about the water on your skin, does it feel hard or soft, is the temperature just right, too hot, too cold, feel the soap on your skin
- Smell: does your shampoo and conditioner fill the air with floral scents, or does it smell sweet, is it refreshing or calming
- Sound: How does the water sound as it hits your skin, how does it sound when it hits the tile or the shower curtain, which sound is most appealing to you? Focus on that one
3. Drinking your morning coffee….
- Feel: when you grasp your mug notice how the warmth of the mug transfers to the palms of your hands, take time to feel the warmth start intense and slowly fade
- Smell: does it smell sweet, can you smell hints of vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, hazelnut
- Taste: is it sweet or bitter, creamy or smooth, black or flavorful
- Sound: listen to the sounds of your coffee machine brew, is it a subtle grumble or a trickling drip, is the sound constant or does it change as more coffee is made
- Challenge: Try drinking your morning beverage without your phone. Be still! Appreciate the roof over your head, the people in your house, the chair you are sitting in, the beautiful view out of your window
4. Eating any meals or snacks…
- Feel: the chair under your bum, the floor under your feet, the surface of the table
- Smell: what is the aroma of the food
- Taste: sweet, sour, salty, herbs, crunchy, smooth, creamy
- Mandatory: No TV, Phones, Electronics at the table
- Appreciate: Talk about the great qualities of the food in front of you with your family, especially the kids. The colors, the smells, the feel, the benefits (avoid the word healthy). Celebrating the food puts a positive spin on meal time and peaks the interest of picky eaters. A recent example from our table: I made a new BBQ sauce and everyone got some on their plate except the picky eater. It was so good, we all fell out of our chairs in ecstasy. We couldn’t stop talking about it. Picky eater was offended that he was not part of the BBQ Celebration. I think he ate more then the rest of us.
- Challenge: chew every bite. Did you know you are supposed to chew each bite of food 30 times, doing this for every bite and every meal might not be practical but one or two mindful bites can really help. Play a game with your kids – chew one bite the regular way and take notice on how it feels in your mouth. Now everyone chews one bite 30 times. How does this feel in the mouth?
5. When outside…
- Feel: take off your shoes!!!!! Feel the earth beneath your feet and practice grounding . Feel the sun on your skin, notice the parts of your body where the heat from the sun is more intense. As you walk, is the ground cold, soft, does it give with every step or push back up against you, notice each step and where it leads you. Hold your child’s hand, notice how it has grown over the years, can you feel their pulse, take time to appreciate this moment before that hand grows to belong to a powerful man or woman.
- Smell: are there flowers around you, has the grass been recently cut, have you ever noticed the smell of a recent summer rain
- Sound: listen to the bugs of summer, the noises of birds, the kids laughter and chatter around you. At our House: when the boys are outside shooting hoops with the neighbors, I open the windows to listen to their banter.
6. Before bed…
- Turn off your electronics. Put your phone in a charger in the kitchen next to everyone elses. I promise, your social life will continue to flourish.
- Feel: sense the sheets, appreciate how good your tired body feels to get in bed, stretch your body
- Smell: essential oils are a perfect fit here
- Sound: listen to the quiet (hopefully). Appreciate that everyone is in their beds (hopefully)
- Appreciate: keep a journal next to your bed, before you sleep take a moment to reflect on the day, write what you are thankful for, the things that made you smile and how you are going to make tomorrow great. Great things happen throughout the day, but human nature focuses on the negatives. Allow this time for Intentional Positivity.
- Be still: take a moment to be with yourself, feel your heart beat, listen to your breathing, watch your thoughts, don’t allow any negativity in, just be with you and then fall into a peaceful sleep.
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