As some of the regular readers may know one of the main aims of this blog is to inspire other busy parents to give Mindfulness a go and to help us help the next generation embrace mindful living.
However, a very happy and unexpected by-product of the blog (and something I am extremely grateful for) is that I have become acquainted with some lovely like-minded bloggers who have some fabulous blogs of their own.
So I invited some of these bloggers to explain a little bit about their relationship with Mindfulness and add their voice to my pro-Mindfulness campaign. Thus, the ‘Mindfulness and Me’ guest series was born.
The series is a chance for other bloggers to explain how they have incorporated Mindfulness into their busy lives and why it is an approach to life that they value. If this sounds like something that you would like to participate in then please do contact me by completing the form below. It is also a chance for us to have a great insight into how flexibly Mindfulness can be applied to our lives. The idea for this series was first conceived from the somewhat tongue-in-cheek interview which I did with my hubby recently. You may want to read this here.
Sara from Mind Your Mamma is our third interviewee. I am very grateful to her for taking the time to answer the questions about her own experiences with Mindfulness. Below are the questions and Sara’s responses.
- When and how did you first come across Mindfulness?
I first came across mindfulness around two years ago thanks to the work I do as a BabyNatal antenatal teacher. The BabyNatal programme is part of The Natal Family, and their founders designed and launched a mindfulness-inspired programme for pregnancy and birth – MummyNatal. Through the work I do with The Natal Family I came across some of the mindfulness principles, and although by then I had already had my third child, I became curious about finding out how mindfulness could help me as a parent and help me cope with stress and worry.
- What were your initial thoughts about it?
I was lucky to attend one of the MummyNatal sessions that expectant mums attend (although I wasn’t pregnant at the time), and found the guided mindful meditation very relaxing. We also did a little experiment of trying to eat a raisin mindfully (after looking at it, smelling it etc.), and I had never realised SO many things about raisins! It just goes to show that we live most of our lives in auto-pilot and not really ‘paying attention’.
- How has Mindfulness helped you personally?
I feel that I’m still at the very beginning of my journey into leading a more mindful life, and documenting this journey (for myself and for others) is one of the main reasons why I started my blog. I had an odd year, with a couple of incidents (and a couple of accidents) that made me realise I was actually stressed, in ‘survival’ mode and not really living in the moment. I was always frazzled and obsessed about my never-ending to-do list, and I knew I had to introduce some changes. Although I still don’t do guided meditations as much as I would like to, I have found the benefits of mindful breathing a great tool to help me during the day.
- How do you fit Mindfulness into your busy life?
That’s exactly the issue! Like many other mums, I don’t think I prioritise self-care well enough! Whenever I have time on my own without the children, which at the moment is only when my youngest naps in the day and then in the evenings after they’ve all gone to bed, I tend to use that time to do other things. I’ve decided I won’t do chores at these times, but rather do things for me that require the concentration I don’t have when the children are around, but I still end up DOING, rather than enjoying some NON DOING time and looking after my mind. I try to push myself to do it, but it’s not more than once a week at the moment, so I’m not where I’d like to be yet.
- What are your ‘go to’ – informal or formal – practices (if you have them)?
I have found the Calm app very useful for guided mindful meditation, and I have posted a review on my blog, talking about how it’s been working for me. I have read a few books on mindfulness as well, but obviously doing guided meditation while you’re reading the script is not ideal! I want to try other apps for guided meditation and body scan meditations, but I must say that trying to anchor myself to the present moment through breathing has really been working for me. That’s something I can use on a daily basis when I’m with children.
- How important do you think formal meditation is to someone who is trying to approach life mindfully?
I feel it’s very important. Whenever I try and meditate I can see that my mind keeps ‘running away with my thoughts’. And often, if I don’t have a voice guiding me, I just let it! I forget I’m meditating, and I forget to bring it back! Apparently the more you train yourself to do this (through formal meditation), the more you become better at it, and I’m looking forward to getting to that point! It’s impressive to notice how many thoughts go through your mind during a very short period of time. This really gives you an idea of how busy our minds are! It’s not just our lives and schedules – our minds are cluttered too, and unless we become better at ‘letting thoughts go’, we are doing our minds a real disservice.
- How would you like to extend your Mindfulness practice further?
There’s a lot more that I want to know about mindfulness. For me it extends to self-kindness, self-awareness, and the ability to let go of the things you can’t control. But it’s also about staying calmer and actively choose to anchor yourself to the present, rather than ‘wishing time away’ or always being one step ahead, worrying about the next thing you need to do. I feel that changing your own habits is hard and takes a lot of work and time, but I’m determined to do it!
- Do you have friends or family who use Mindfulness techniques too?
Within The Natal Family, I have a lot of friends and colleagues who use mindfulness techniques regularly. The MummyNatal teachers enjoy taking ladies through guided meditations weekly and report feeling a lot better afterwards and generally feeling like better people – mothers, wives, friends, daughters etc. – since practicing mindful meditation regularly.
- What ‘top tips’ do you have for someone thinking of trying Mindfulness for the first time?
My top tip would be ‘just do it’! Even if you don’t know anything about mindfulness, YouTube it or download an app like I did (Calm and Headspace are good places to start). A guided meditation typically covers some of the principles around mindfulness, so it all starts to make sense and ‘click’ straight away. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are ‘intimidated’ by the term ‘mindfulness meditation’ and perhaps think it’s linked to a religion or certain behaviours or beliefs. It’s not! It’s for everyone, and it can really help in many areas of your life, so I’d encourage people to try and forget about what they think they know about it, leave the pre-conceptions at the door, and really give it a go.
- Who would you recommend Mindfulness to and why?
Mindfulness is for everyone! And once I feel like I’ve mastered it for myself it’s something I want to introduce my children to as well! But I’d definitely recommend mindfulness to other parents and other mums like me. If you’re constantly busy – running your life, your children’s, looking after the house, having a job etc. – then mindfulness is for you. I believe we are all doing too much, and we all really need to slow down, breathe and start enjoying the little moments – our children grow up too quickly, and we’re too busy running around from one thing to the next to really stop, anchor ourselves to the present, and live in it. This is why I started my blog – I want this change for myself and my family, and my blog is my way of documenting this and staying true to it!
I’m sure you agree it is great to get someone else’s perspective on Mindfulness and what it means to them. Sara makes some excellent points and I’d like to thank her for taking part in the ‘Mindfulness and Me’ guest series. If you’d like to read more from Sara who started her blog with the intention of slowing her and her family’s lives down and becoming more mindful, while documenting and sharing their journey in the process. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Next time I am very excited to be welcoming Lucy from Lucy’s Locket for ‘Mindfulness and Me’ #4 so please look out for this post. Please don’t forget to complete the contact form below if you are interested in taking part in this series.
If you would like to write a comment to Sara or myself about the series than please do so in the comment box below the contact form. Thank you and bye for now x