If you are a mum and find life a little too hectic for your own liking, I strongly recommend you get yourself a copy of Mindfulness for Mothers, by Rebecca Ryan. The book is only available on Kindle in the UK, but if you’re lucky enough to live in Australia, (and we’re not jealous at all), you can grab a physical copy of the book as well.
Who’s Rebecca Ryan?
Rebecca Ryan is a Melbourne-based yoga and meditation teacher, as well as a mum-of-2. She has been providing prenatal, postnatal and mums & bubs yoga since 2007 and published the book Mindfulness for Mothers in 2016.
Why do mums need mindfulness?
You can argue that most people could do with a little more mindfulness in their lives, but when you look at some of the benefits of regular mindful meditation practice, these include:
- reduced stress and anxiety
- increased self-awareness and perspsective
- a more relaxed body and a calmer mind
- increased feelings of happiness, compassion, empathy, contentment, alertness and vitality
- improved sleep quality
- improved memory and cognition
- more balanced hormone levels
- improved immune function
- and lower blood pressure.
So if you’ve just become a mum and already can’t quite remember what you used to do with all the time you had before your baby arrived; or if you’re juggling a million things while caring for your children (like most mums d0), then you can see why mindfulness meditation could be a good thing to try out.
Mindfulness meditation = self-care
The truth is that as mums we’re just too often guilty of not looking after ourselves well enough. This is true for our bodies (the way we sometimes eat on the go or struggle to find time to exercise), but it’s true for our minds as well. We feel all this guilt from seemingly taking time away from our children, but if you think about it, our children can also benefit from us looking after ourselves a bit more.
Mindfulness can help us be more present, calmer, less worried, kinder (to yourself and others) and less reactive and more responsive to the every-day situations we face. And yes, this includes the spilled bowl of cereal and the infamous school run – it’s called school run for a reason, right?
Plus, through the practice of mindfulness we can teach our children a very important life lesson too. We can show them from an early age that looking after ourselves is important. And that’s an invaluable lesson, especially if you consider that a lot of us (me included) find mindfulness in their adult life when it feels like life is getting on top of them.
What I loved about Mindfulness for Mothers
I found Rebecca’s book totally unique. Having read a fair amount on mindfulness in the last year or so, I discovered a huge amount of wisdom and practical tips in this book that I haven’t come across anywhere else.
1. You can practice mindfulness during the natural breaks of your day
This concept is so simple, yet so powerful. We are so used to rushing around from one task to the next that we can miss the natural short breaks scattered all over our days.
Rebecca says: “There are techniques in this book that will help you notice and enhance the natural breaks in your day, such as before you start the car, before you eat, when you arrive home from work, before you check social media, when you are about to have a cup of tea or coffee, before you reach for your phone, after you put your children to bed, or before you switch on the TV”.
Had it ever occurred to you to start using any of these moments for a quick grounding, breathing exercise? I have started to become more aware of these moments now. I stop myself in my tracks, close my eyes, take a pause and breathe, and it makes a huge difference to my day and stress levels.
2. You can practice mindfulness around your children
I speak for myself here, but in the last 8 year or so (since becoming a mum), my children being around has been the ‘excuse’ for everything. I can’t exercise, because I’ve got my children with me. And surely I can’t meditate, because I’ve got my children with me. And when I don’t have my children with me, I’m at work, right? So when do I get to meditate?
But truly, these are just excuses.
Just go to Part 2 of Mindfulness for Mothers and you can find a choice of 10 different types of meditations that you can do around your child. The time taken for these ranges from 2 seconds (honestly) to 30 minutes, with 6 options being 5 minutes or under. Are we really saying that we don’t have 5 minutes or under over a full day spent at home with your child to try out a mindfulness meditation? If this doesn’t convince you, Rebecca also gives examples of when (in the day) you can do these, so there are really no excuses to try it out!
3. You can (and should) create your own mindfulness practice
I’m a big believer of the fact that you have to find your own way in life. Things that work for some people don’t seem to work for others. And the more you focus on how certain things come so naturally to some and not to you, the more you end up feeling frustrated and dissatisfied with yourself.
So how about trying to do things that YOU like, enjoy and find easy? Plus what works for you today, in your current circumstances, might not work in a few years’ time. So if you have a few options to play with, you know you can always adapt and change your practice too.
To the already-fantastic list of 10 mindful meditations that you can do around your children, Rebecca adds another 11 (in Part 3 of the book) that you can do on your own. Again, the time for those ranges from 10 seconds to half an hour. You get a full description of the practice, together with benefits and tips.
4. You won’t reap the rewards unless you make mindful meditation a habit
Part 4 of the book is all about helping you to make mindfulness meditation a daily habit. Creating a new habit can take a bit of work, but it is definitely possible. Rebecca gives some examples and ideas based on recognising and replacing existing triggers (i.e. replacing a mindless scroll of your Facebook newsfeed with a quick grounding practice), or creating new triggers to remind yourself that it’s time to meditate.
This becomes very useful, for example, when you find yourself in a stressful situation. Can you stop yourself when you feel your blood pressure going up and take a few deep breaths instead?
5. We should all remember that meditation isn’t a recent phenomenon
I was completely blown away by the range of different meditations listed in this book. Rebecca clearly has a huge amount of knowledge on this, and her passions really comes across when you’re reading her book.
It’s fascinating to realise how different cultures or faiths from all over the world have ways of incorporating mindfulness in their own practices. Daily prayers, pilgrimages, and even techniques that use shaking movements of the body are all ways of making mindful meditation part of life. Mindfulness meditation might have become the buzz phrase in the last few years, but it’s definitely not new. In fact, it’s probably a much needed reminder of the ancient knowledge that we seem to have lost over the years.
And so we need to learn it all over again. Because we need it now more than ever, in this crazy-paced world.
So if you think you’d enjoy Mindfulness for Mothers, or know someone who would, you can buy your Kindle copy here. For more information on Rebecca Ryan, you can head over to her website, where you can also find links to her interviews and YouTube videos.
*I received a free digital copy of the book Mindfulness for Mothers, but all ideas expressed in this post are my own.