Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge
This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My Thoughts on this Subject…
I was racking my brain trying to come up with some new thing I could do to be more mindful. It’s not that I’m already doing so much or so well, that I had a hard time. It’s that I just don’t have the inner peace and centered-ness/grounded-ness at the moment. I don’t feel like I have much space to add more mindfulness, or anything for that matter.
Finally it dawned on me. This is something I’ve been pondering for quite a while now and I started to figure it out when I would catch myself playing with Em, but really just counting the minutes until I could get back to getting some work done. I usually managed to stop, but I judge myself that it took effort. I had to re-learn how to simply play. I would get a bit jealous of Stephen’s mom because when she was here playing, she just played. I was never so free.
So I started trying to make times, even if it was only an hour, when I was only a playmate, not a mom fitting in some playtime between chores.
This is a constant challenge for me. And my other neat trick is to talk about what’s coming up. It was so hard for me when she was really little, because I knew that little kids have no concept of “later” or “tomorrow”… and that it would just confuse her. So I had to bite my tongue constantly. I started noticing then how often I’m on to the next thing in my head.
As she’s gotten older, and since my girl has always been extraordinarily verbal… she actually calls me out on it. She’s said to me, “Mom, just be with me,” or, “why are you talking about that when we’re doing this?” It blew me away the first time and I had to decide not to be crushed by my failure and to just shift. That was what she really wanted anyway. And as children are so good at, she forgave and forgot instantly.
I’ve learned to enjoy playing again. I still have to let go almost every time. I have to make a decision to be in the moment and to find my inner kid. It’s more fun for both of us if I’m playing for myself and not just for her.
I was surprised that mud gave my first real breakthrough. In the summer of her 2nd year, we started spending almost every day outside in the mud. She had a whole world under the grapefruit and orange tree. It looked like an archaeological dig. Some of you may remember that I was not the outdoorsy type, but since I wanted her to be the nature girl I never was, I faked it til I maked it. I got to practice letting go and getting dirty in that mud. There’ s no way to play in the mud halfway. (You can tell I was proud of myself.)
It was a start. And as life got more and more busy, even though I still tried to remain conscious of being present with her, I stopped thinking about it or trying to learn more.
Recently my husband and I have given ourselves the opportunity to deepen and re-claim our relationship. Part of the process for me has been that I’ve made room in my concept of my own near perfection to take in what he’s been saying about how I am constantly thinking about the next thing and the next. He’ll often say, “You just talked about 5 different things, none of them having to do with this moment or what we’re doing right now.”
I see now how this has also taken something from our relationship and our time together (which is much harder to come by now that we have a child.)
The why of it is that I’ve used this technique as a method to cope with my lifelong anxiety. So, I’m really strong in my ability to be in my head and I also make lists, think of what needs to be done, etc…. to hopefully stop worrying about it, problem solve ahead of time, or to imagine the worst thing that can happen and figure out how to survive it.
The things I do in my head:
1. Make lists, problem solve, try to sort out and organize all the things that need to be done.
2. Imagine the worst that can happen so that I can imagine surviving it and let go of the anxiety.
3. Imagine the near future in which things are going well and everyone is happy…. whatever thing I want to focus on or whatever I’m working toward. A sort of visualization, I suppose.
4. Create! I’m an idea person. I can’t help but think of things to do, blog, write, invent, etc…..
5. Barrier. I believe that I learned some of this as a child when I was very open psychically. I think I didn’t have a filter and things, energies, voices, images would invade if I didn’t have a wall of sound. I was a very frightened kid.
So, some of these are good things to do. Positive and productive. The problem is that I don’t know how to NOT do them. I don’t know how to be at peace and quiet in my mind. I’ve been asking my husband, “What are you thinking about right now?” Driving is a big one for me. I’ll start just rambling out loud to him all the things that are in my head and sometimes he’ll stop me. What I don’t get is, what do people do in their heads when they’re not thinking? Stephen just asks me if we can talk about anything else but what we have to do next or some other task oriented list. We can usually find something creative to talk about. He loves to hear about any creative idea I have and those are wonderful conversations where we can get excited and inspire each other.
So, how do I change this?
1. Become aware. I’ve told Stephen that I don’t mind if he points it out to me since I still don’t always notice it.
2. Make time for quiet practice. Not meditation. Too extreme for me. I want to start doing Tai Chi again. That would be a good time to practice being in my body and quieting my inner voice.
3. Stephen and I are going to start a practice of just sitting together and being. A partner meditation. Sitting cross legged, knee to knee and holding hands. I’ll start by being aware only of his touch and tuning into my body in that very moment. (I’m really looking forward to this one.)
5. Dedicated play time with Em.
6. Dedicated time to actually process and think about what needs to be done. Inner voice free for all!
7. Workout daily to relieve anxiety naturally.
I would love any other ideas anyone has. This is really hard for me. But I suspect it will change my life for the better in so many ways. I suspect it will make my creative time more productive as well. When I sit down to write or create jewelry or my dolls…. I have to work, sometimes hard, at emptying my mind to allow my vision to manifest. I want to be able to hear the more subtle voices of my guidance or energies of the universe.
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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- The Importance of a Moment Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama reflects on the need to slow down and breathe in life instead of rushing from one moment to the next.
- Mindful Playing With My Daughters Rani at Om She Said looked at her girls and realized that more than anything they wanted her right there next to them, playing, laughing, creating, and having fun; that’s exactly what she did!
- Watch Your Words Patti at Canadian Unschooler challenges herself to make her words a reflection of her intentions.
- The Mindful Benefits of Knitting Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares how knitting has helped lift her out of depression and has given her a new form of meditation.
- Self Compassion: How Thinking About Bad Experiences Can Make You Happier and More Compassionate CJ at Imperfect Happiness challenges herself to be more compassionate…with herself.
- Calming the Home Environment by Selecting Traditional Toys Sam at Love Parenting discusses the benefits of natural toys.
- Quieting my Infernal Inner Ramblings Tree at Mom Grooves writes about her commitment to get out of her head and into the moment with her daughter and husband.
- Changing Our Everyday The Aniweda Dream is sizing up the changes they’ve made by moving across the country and looking at how to make their lives more mindful as a family.
- A Mindful Cup of Tea Amy at The Daily Muttering tells how she’s trying to regain control of her life with the chaos of 3 kids thanks to the introduction of a simple daily ritual.
- Mindful Mama Moontime Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how becoming conscious of her moon time has helped her find balance in herself as a woman, and a mama.
- Speaking to the Need Shana at Tales of Minor Interest shares how she tries to stay mindful of her preschooler’s needs.
- Going Within Amy at Anktangle describes a centering practice she’s been being more intentional about lately, and which she has come to realize is a precious gift in her life.
- Waking Up With Meditation Amy at PresenceParents shares how awakening with presence carries her through the day.
- Mindful Meditations Zoie at TouchstoneZ explores six weeks of seated meditation and discovers some things she doesn’t expect.
- Mindfulness in the Kitchen – an Everyday Challenge Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she’s been challenging herself to involve more mindfulness in everyday tasks – especially in the area of cooking for her family.