The act of mindful meditation can feel incredibly hard to commit to for many? And for mum's, it can tend to border on feelings of impossible at the beginning. The expectation of time and focus put into long periods of stillness? I personally SUCK at it. But am working on it. Because I know how amazing it is for me. Thousands of years of history have shown it. Science has shown it. Just speaking with people who regularly meditate, you can feel their calm and focus and just know they are functioning at a higher energy level. In all concepts of the word 'energy'. And so I have been on a gradual mission to improve my practice, and find ways that work for me. I love a good meditation practice that makes everything feel so much simpler.
For me, I find short activities like a 'tea meditation' far more successful than trying to sit for long meditations with my eyes closed and body still. Either my mind goes crazy, or I fall asleep. Total novice, right. Plus chronically exhausted. But I am GRATEFUL that I have worked out that simple activities carried out with acute awareness, and appreciation of the magic or joy of that everyday activity, can be just as much a mindful, meditative action. And it is one that I can achieve. Even as a busy mum!
A couple of key pointers to keep mindful meditations simple:
1. Bringing mindfulness into a daily activity that you do anyway will set you up for success.
2. Don't 'overthink' it. I mean, a really big aim is to give your mind a break so you can reset, right. So don't get all flustered creating the perfect space/position/ambiance...the whole thing, if you are very new to it, and have an overactive monkey mind like me. For me that is a total set up for failure. First, the more energy I put in, the more my kids will sense from next door, or deep sleep that I am trying to take a moment of peace. AND THEY WILL HUNT ME DOWN! Second, the more I focus on everything being 'perfect' the trickier it is for my mind to switch off checking and rechecking the level of perfection whilst I am supposed to be meditating.
3. Never EVER lie down Mum. ZZZzzzzzzzzzzz
How to create a simple 'tea meditation':
If you are after tips on a traditional tea meditation as is done in Japan or China, I suggest you return to Google right now. What I am aiming to provide here is some steps in creating a practice revolving around an activity most people do every day. And most mums find themselves living for, the focus to "just get me through these next few hours". Tea drinkers will hate me for my next words, I'm sure, but if you're not one, try substituting with your coffee, or whatever beverage floats your boat. Of course if it is a morning practice you are creating, lets keep the wine capped. I am all for responsible parenting before midday.
In seriousness though, the aim is to 'be present' in the simple acts of life. The simple joy of a hot or chilled beverage, often the first real break after a crazy morning that may or may not have started before the sun was up. Find what makes you happy, and what you already do. It will help you succeed in your practice.
Your steps to a simple tea meditation:
1. Aim to do this while your baby/s are otherwise occupied- sleeping/when someone else can watch them. We're talking 15 minutes here, or longer if you can.
2. Prepare your tea- however you do it, acutely focus on this one activity alone. The selection of drink, the action of moving your package, boiling your kettle or pot on the stove. Inhale the scent of your tea. Select the cup, the spoon. Be acutely aware of every tiny step it takes to make your tea, and seat yourself in your selected spot. Be sure this is somewhere comfortable. Peaceful. Be sure you can turn your back on the mess and chores you have waiting for you. These do not matter right now.
3. Gratitude- Before you take a sip, sit quietly, inhale your tea, and give gratitude. Gratitude that no matter the chaos, you have found 15 minutes for YOU. You deserve this. Gratitude that you have been shopping and remembered to buy tea. Gratitude that you have been blessed with an amazing tiny soul, for they may make your life crazy, but it really is a pretty magic madness.
Gratitude-take it as far as you want, the simple things around you, or on a deep spiritual level. Whatever works for you. Sit quietly with those thoughts for a minute or two.
4. Drink your tea- with full mindfulness. What does this mean? Be 'intensely' aware of each action. Little sips. Inhale. The taste of the tea. It's smell, the warmth in your mouth. Where in your mouth do you taste it most? Can you separate the flavours (if it is a blend)? The feel of the cup in your hands. It's warmth. Inhale. Deep, calm breathes. Notice the action of your arm, the sound as the cup is set down. Other thoughts will likely come to mind. Acknowledge them, then let them go. Now is not their time for your attention.
5. Sit silently and process- When your tea is done, just sit. Sit with the silence. Notice the sounds around you. Let your thoughts come back in. GRADUALLY. Notice how you feel. Calmer? Or is there another emotion. Are you a little more prepared to jump back on the crazy train. And think about how you can slow all that down. Try not to jump up and race blindly back into chores and activity. Try to hold onto that calm feeling and step into your next activities with that awareness. End as you began, and as a mum, first give thanks that you simply got to finish this meditation uninterrupted. This whole process could take you 15 minutes, or an hour if you have it.
If you are not feeling calmer, if perhaps you find yourself feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed, please don't then assume that this is an awful practice that is all wrong for you. Instead, try to recognise that you have possibly been feeling this way for a while. Possibly your have been keeping yourself crazy busy to help keep 'control' of any negative feelings. To suppress them. Possibly this time of stillness has allowed for these emotions to surface, and this is exactly the right time to address them. It is the time to pick up the phone and talk to someone. Your partner, or friend, or a total stranger sometimes is easier. You are not alone. Sometimes choosing to write, letting your mind work the pen with no control from your conscious, letting your thoughts pour out. This can all be part of your process.
Being a beginner at all of this, and an anxious over thinker, I would feel irresponsible to not warn you that practicing mindfulness even in small ways can be beneficial in unlocking your suppressed 'stuff'. Which can be daunting, but also incredibly cathartic. And other times your are left feeling so light you could float, so ready to take on your day.
If you reading this, and in your first steps of growing your little person, I am excited to tell you that I stumbled on Maternitea last year. They supply an amazing range of organic tea's to support you through fertility, pregnancy, and breast feeding, as well as nutritional support if you are seeking it. Absolutely worth checking them out and seeing if they are right for you. (And no, I gain no benefits from recommending them. In fact, I am yet to let them know, but I think they are awesome.)
If you are reading this and wishing now you could pick up the phone and talk to someone, but preferably someone you aren't close to yet, there are a number of fabulously supportive groups out there for perinatal wellness. My favourite NFP organisation here in SE QLD is Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness. There is not a peer woman involved in that group who does not know what it is like to feel overwhelmed or anxious or in need of someone to talk to.
If you have young bubs (under 12 months), and interested in learning more about basic mindful moments, learn better to connect with your bub and help create some calm and understanding in your home through deeper connection, connect with other mums' where honesty and support is always present, as well as tea, and morning tea, why don't you take a peak at all our Infant Massage Program has to offer. There is so much more, over and above the amazing massage component. Including an opportunity to access 12 months subscription to Headspace (largest online meditation),
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