How can mindfulness help?
Mindfulness helps us to tune into the present moment, to notice the internal dialogue and switch off the charge of the immediate emotional response. it allows you to observe what might be a useful response, and what is sticking you deeper in the mud.
I’ll give you an example of it at play. In June 2009 I did the Blenheim Triathlon, which was scary enough as an idea, but on the night before there was a howling gale which basically kept me up all night, nerves rising thinking “no no the weather can’t be crap the weather can’t be crap please don’t be like this tomorrow”. The howling gale continued unabated the following morning, and my triathlon buddies and I were waiting, shivering and sodden and wholly unprepared for this turn of events, for our slots. Our nerves were ratcheting up a notch every time someone said THIS IS A NIGHTMARE, WHAT ARE WE DOING?!!! at every biting whiplash of wind.
That enforced moment of calm made me reset my mindset. I thought, well, I’m here now. I need to get to the other end of the lake. There’s no escaping that. So I slowed down, I focused on breathing rather than fretting. I even somehow managed to take the moment to notice that due to the crazy weather there were multiple swifts swooping down onto the lake skimming off insects around us, which remains a strangely calm memory within what was clearly watery mayhem to the casual observer.
I did the London Triathlon when Freddie was 6 months old (I know, right? Clearly only a deeply hormonal person would ever do that). The swim was again a complete disaster. As soon as I got in, my goggles began to leak water, and adjusting your goggles while you’re actually in the throng of a triathlon swim is slightly tricky, let me tell you.
So rather than panicking and thinking “oh JAYsus why am I doing this to myself, my breastfeeding boobs are already exploding and I’m not even a third of the way through this nightmare, this is awful make it stop this is crap…”, I just thought, gotta get through this. I literally channelled Daniel Bedingfield, I gotta get thru this. In times like this I always focus on a word that hovers into my psyche. Sometimes it’s one word, like “push, push, push” (quite suitable for getting through labour perhaps), this time it was Dory from Finding Nemo Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming… breathe, kick, breathe, kick. And before I knew it, I was dragging my postnatal weary ass out of the water and trotting off to the next stage. And at the end of it all I was able to grab hold of my baby immediately and remedy the exploding boobs…
Mindfulness lifts you out of the emotional reaction to your circumstance
And allows you to view it as a single moment which will pass. Wasting less energy on resisting challenging circumstances, and instead allowing the sensations space in that moment to be, then dissipate. The emotional charge of holding onto something by empowering it and labelling it AWFUL, SHIT, TERRIBLE is then released and softened.
This is applicable to basically every activity we could ever be in as people/mums. Labour. Breastfeeding. Sleepless nights. Soft play. Rhyme Time.
Take the time to tune into your present moment. You will feel better.