Your heartbeat is rising, chest pounding, jaw clenched tight, head about to explode, then a torrent of words leaves your mouth so quickly you forget to breathe, and what was it you just said anyway?
There’s never a minutes peace; you work all day, do the school run, try to referee the kids while doing the supermarket shop, home to the kitchen to put the shopping away, make tea and make tomorrows packed lunches, eat, wash-up and then……….STILL no peace!
Sound familiar? You must be a stressed out mum or dad. Don’t you just feel there isn’t enough of you to go around, totally drained by everybody? Your mind is splintered; permanently multi-tasking, even in your sleep.
You need to ‘regroup’, get yourself back together, stabilize your mind.
I remember this harridan self, well organized on the outside but torn apart on the inside, never quite feeling settled, never quite managing to totally de-stress.
Having tried all the usual stuff: glass of wine, tv/dvd, surfing the web, role-playing video games when kids were in bed (it really seemed much easier to be a wizard , searching the depths of dangerous dungeons looking for hidden artifacts, than to be a mum), exercise dvd’s, yoga, and the odd jog, I found that although these relaxed my body for a while, they never quite addressed the tension and discord in my mind.
What else could I do?
The answer was close at hand. While surfing the web I came across a website showing a beautiful building with a Cherry Blossom tree on the lawn outside, right next to a lovely park I used to visit as a child.
The website seemed to welcome me with its warm sunshine-coloured layout, and the people pictured were happy and smiling. Normal people just like me, but happy and smiling, no steam coming out of their ears, no purple face, no hair standing on end! Young people, old people, men and women, short hair, long hair, natural faces and faces with make-up, some fashionable and some not, some in dresses, some in jeans. An average cross section of people except none of them looked stressed like me.
I bookmarked this page for a couple of months before I plucked up the courage to actually visit. Then, in January, as part of the New Years Resolution for a ‘New Me’ I made my first visit – it was a Buddhist meditation centre with beginners classes open to all, very calm and very friendly.
Nervous though I was, and corny this may sound, but I had an overwhelming feeling of being in the right place. Have you ever experienced those moments in your life when you feel you are exactly where you’re meant to be? This was one of them.
The class was very simple, sitting on chairs. The teacher talked a little about that days’ topic, we had a short discussion with time for questions, and best of all, a short guided meditation.
Now at this point, you may be visualizing hippies with flowers in their hair, sitting around singing (that’s if you are old enough to remember those days?) But it wasn’t like that. Sitting on chairs, eyes gently closed, silently focusing on our breath – just on our breath. Gradually letting all our thoughts, plans, worries and fears subside. So simple, yet so effective.
Afterwards we all had a cuppa and a chance to chat with the teacher. I felt quite emotional and overwhelmed by the sense of relief at shedding my burden , even for this short period of time. I decided to try this at home, it proved to be the best decision I ever made.
These are the three easy steps I used to meditate at home. This really worked. A mere 5-10 minutes regularly (daily if possible) made a real difference, I noticed results in just a couple of weeks.
- Find a small space in your day. A regular time works best but it may be that as daily routines vary so will your timing. If you have more than one child it may be easier to choose a time when they are naturally separated by bedtimes or visits to scouts or brownies etc to minimize the risk of disruptive noises from energetic games or arguing.
- Find a quiet place, probably your bedroom. Explain that you need a few minutes to yourself and that you would prefer not to be disturbed except for something urgent. (Of course, what we think is urgent, is not quite the same as what they may think is urgent – wanting a biscuit or telling tales seems to be quite urgent to a young person!) I made a sign to stick on my bedroom door “Do not disturb. MMT” (Mums Meditation Time) which seemed to work quite well. They will get the hang of it eventually! You can also invest in some earplugs or even ear defenders to minimize the noise from footsteps, doors etc, just allowing enough sound in for safety, if you don’t have an older child or partner to supervise.
- Sit down in your quiet place, on either a cushion or a fairly upright chair (so you don’t fall asleep!). Spend a couple of minutes imagining the physical tension easing out of your body, so you feel relaxed and comfortable. Focus on the breath as it enters and leaves at the tip of your nose, noticing the sensation of the cool in breath and the warmer out breath. Simply follow your regular breathing pattern, no need to change it in any way. Don’t worry when distractions arise in your mind, just gently let go of them, without interaction or judgement, and return your attention to your breath once again. Gradually your mind will become slightly quieter and more peaceful. However slight, this will improve and increase with practice.
That’s all there is to it!
Anxiety and stress will gradually decrease, it becomes so much easier to let things ‘go over your head’, instead of getting caught up in a knot with them. The kids don’t even seem to argue so loudly, and the boss isn’t quite so awful after all.
You have discovered a peaceful oasis in the midst of your hectic life, which gives you the breathing space (no pun intended!) you need to function effectively in your daily life, resting your overworked mind and easing you towards becoming a more peaceful, happier you.
How does this work? More in my next article.