niqWith it being taken up by businesses as big as Google, increasingly embraced by the NHS and the subject of thousands of articles, it’s unlikely that you haven’t come across the concept of “mindfulness”. A meditation technique in which you aim to be fully present in the moment, there doesn’t seem to be anything that you can’t do mindfully – from working, dieting, and of course, mothering.
All the publicity around mindfulness, fuelled by the various studies that have proven the benefits of the practise, has firmly place mindfulness in the public eye. Mindfulness apps have millions of users and huge amounts of people have tried it. But what if you’ve got the app, read the guides, and dedicated a few hours to becoming mindful and found it hasn’t work for you at all? What if, even worse, mindfulness is stressing you out?
Due to its huge popularity mindfulness has become synonymous meditation, but mindfulness is not the only meditative technique. It could be that mindfulness is worth another try, or it could be that an alternative to mindfulness would suit you far better.
Don’t Give Up On Meditation
There’s absolutely loads of reasons why mothers would be attracted to mindfulness, with promises of calm, rest and less stress all very relevant when there’s small children running around, or babies to look after. These benefits however aren’t exclusive to mindfulness, and if you’ve found the mindfulness technique inaccessible, then there are lots of ways to make meditation part of your routine.
When you want to feel the benefits of meditation, finding a way to really enjoy the practice will be half the battle. The easier and more accessible the practice is, the more likely you’ll find yourself sticking with it, and there’s an array of techniques out there which could suit you.
Research the Techniques
Meditation has been around for thousands of years, so it’s no surprise that in that time humans have come up with a few different ways to approach it. Mindfulness is actually one of the more difficult techniques, requiring concentration and conscious control of your thoughts.
For mothers, this can be especially hard work as there’s always so many things to think about. Hyper-vigilance is the norm when you have small children (seeing as they are always thinking of new ways to hurt themselves) and you are constantly having to plan ahead, meaning that more than any other time of life there’s compelling worries that can distract you from a meditative practice. This is all the more reason to try to fit meditation into your life, as it helps you cope with this pressure without becoming overwhelmed.
If you’ve found mindfulness too challenging, Vedic meditation is another simple yet powerful technique that could provide an effective alternative. Based on personalised mantras, Vedic meditation is often considered the easiest (although no less effective) meditation technique. Its simple use of mantras makes it much easier to incorporate into modern day life, and it doesn’t involve the usual sitting-with-a-straight-back pose or stereotyped crossed leg position. Vedic meditation can be practised anywhere you can catch a few moments to yourself, from the tube to the quick lunch break, and the results are immediate.
Another alternative is Loving Kindness Meditation, that enhances your empathy for other people (always helpful, especially if you think your nerves might snap if there’s another tantrum) but perhaps most usefully it increases your self-esteem and kindness towards yourself.
Mothers in particular can benefit from this in the weeks and months after birth, when it feels like you’ve lost control and ownership of your body. Yoga can also help alleviate these struggles. If you are used to keeping up with an exercise routine Yoga is a way to retain a physical element to your meditative practise, meaning that if you are too exhausted and physically drained to head out for a run you can still enjoy exercise.
Find a Teacher
Moving away from mindfulness apps and guided meditations online, to group classes led by an experienced and passionate teacher is another way to make meditation work for you. Firstly, by turning meditation into a social activity it could be more fun, with new people to meet and plenty of support. Secondly a good teacher will know how to guide you through any snags, encouraging you to keep up with the practice and feel the benefits.
Meditation comes in many forms and if you find one difficult or ill suited, there are lots of other paths to try. With so much to be gained, it’s definitely worth a little research.
This post was written by Holly Ashby from Will Williams Meditation, a London meditation centre that aims to improve people’s health and happiness.
Images by Alex Berger, Quotefancy.com – this is a promotional post.