A Moment of Mindfulness
By Kristina Burks Halliday, LCSW and Birth Roots Board Member

Parenting and preparing to have a child require tremendous amounts of time, effort and energy just as they bring tremendous joy, fulfillment and beauty. It is easy to get caught up in thinking, planning and the logistics of daily life which can cloud our ability to notice what is around us.  Spring is a perfect time of year to slow down, breathe, observe and rejoice.

Tiny green shoots pushing through the last of the grubby snow, triumphant buds sprouting from dormant tree tips and lingering light past bedtime – the joy and renewal that characterizes springtime in Maine has finally come. The literal and figurative darkness is waning; what better time of year to truly notice the transformation that is occurring all around us?

Below are some ideas regarding how to practice mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. So, come together at Birth Roots to celebrate new and growing life, and take a moment to bring some Spring into your life.

Five tips for incorporating mindfulness into busy family life:

  1. Self-narrate an activity, or say it aloud to your child as you do it, including as many sensory details as you can. “I am squirting on the soap, it smells like apples, it is green, and now I feel the warm water running down my wrists, the scrubber is rough and the dish is now smooth, I see rainbow colors in the suds…” This hones your focus onto what you are doing, making you truly present in the moment.
  1. Try a mindful activity to explore what focusing your full attention on one thing in the moment feels like. Include your littles and enjoy their reactions! Try popping an M&M (or organic dark chocolate or the leftover Easter Bunny ear – no judgments!) into your mouth – chew and swallow as you normally would. Now try placing one in your mouth and trying to make it last for an entire minute. Turn your attention to the textural changes and the sensations as they occur, from the first taste all the way to the lingering sweetness when it is gone. What did you notice? How were your first and second experiences different?
  1. Take a mindful walk, even if it is a few steps to your mailbox and back. Try to notice every detail of what you see around you, and only allow thoughts of this to enter your mind. If thoughts of anything other than what you are seeing, feeling and doing enter, simply acknowledge non-judgmentally that your mind drifted and do a sensory check-in: “What do I see? What do I hear? Smell?” etc.
  1. Take one minute to focus only on your breathing, or lay you hand on the back of your sleeping child and bring your attention to the rhythm and try to match your breath. Again, if your thoughts drift, simply remind yourself to refocus on the breath.
  1. Pick one day to really notice where your thoughts tend to drift to the past or future, or where you are most likely to “zone out.” The next day, try choosing one of these times to practice a greater awareness of the present moment. Challenge yourself to notice three new details on a route your travel frequently such as on the drive to work, school or the store.

 

For more information about how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life check out the following articles:
Mindfulness Meditation Benefits: 20 Reasons Why It’s Good For Your Mental And Physical Health: 

5 Prenatal Meditation Techniques | Fit Pregnancy and Baby

If you are new to trying to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life, these apps can be a helpful start:
Mindfullness Daily, Smiling Mind, Imindfullness, Insight Timer (guided meditations 1 minute to 1 hour)