Meditation Teacher, Jackie Stewart, on Staying Grounded While Mom-ing

August 09, 2020

Dealing with fertility diagnoses, treatments and being a mom in general can be a lot. The stress of wishing to have a child, to actually having one, can take a serious toll on mental health, and can have you feeling irritable, overwhelmed and out of control. 

We asked Jackie Stewart, a meditation teacher at MNDFL to give us some advice for staying grounded through motherhood. 

 

On Motherhood

“Becoming a mother has been amazing! It’s the most challenging, fulfilling thing I’ve done. What I’ve learned in the past 10 months is that I can only be as present and patient as a mother to Phoenix as I’m being to myself; if I’m not taking care of my own body and mind in the most basic ways (nutrition, sleep, and relationships) I can’t show up for him the way I’d like to be. It has made the biggest difference.”

 

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Reflecting on the early days... My postpartum experience was filled with an immense amount of love AND anxiety, especially those first 3-months. Every instinct in me wanted to “breathe it away” or wrestle it out of my mind. It felt uncomfortable and invasive. The moment I found the slightest bit of reprieve was when I leaned in. By leaning in, I could find some acceptance that this old “friend” anxiety was here to stay for a while. When I let go of my need for things to look/feel/be anything other than what they were, a tenderness emerged. This tenderness connected me with every other mother- whether postpartum or not, who might also be sitting with anxiety in this very moment. There was something that felt powerful about that. . 🦋 It feels important to talk about and share these intimate moments, so we don’t feel alone. It also feels important to support other mamas as they go through the transition from woman to mother. 

A post shared by Jackie Stewart (@_jackiestewart_) on

 

Motherhood and Mindfulness

Motherhood has absolutely transformed my mindfulness practice. Every single moment has become an opportunity to practice how I’m showing up- for myself and for him. I have to understand that my interactions with the people around me are being absorbed through his observation. Any old narratives I carry with me will color my perception. The more aware I am of them, the more I can look to see beyond that narrative to what else is possible. My perception has a direct impact on the way his world gets shaped, and this becomes such a great source of motivation for staying mindful. The stakes are higher so my motivation is deeper. 

 

 

 

Staying on track with meditation 

Be gentle with yourself. Many of us struggle with a vision of what we think meditation, a calm mind, or being a patient person is supposed to look like. This causes us to view ourselves through a very critical lens, and doesn’t give us much space to discover the tenderness and courage that can be revealed in this practice. 

  • Start with some guidance. Whether that’s working personally with a teacher, going into a center, or the convenience of an app. Guided meditations can offer a foundation and structure for practice. Come and practice together with me on Monday evenings at MNDFL in NYC, or on the Journey LIVE app every weekday morning at 8am EST. 
  • Give yourself 10 minutes a day. Real benefits are established by developing healthy habits, so set yourself up with the consistency of a daily practice. Sometimes working it into another part of your daily routine can be helpful in building it in as something you just do, like brushing your teeth or your skincare routine
  • Get creative. Try different styles, teachers, ways of sitting, and even where you practice to see what feels most supportive for you. In my first year of postpartum, my practice happened everywhere from the bathroom floor to the stairwell of my building. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity to make self-care happen. 

Introducing meditation to kids

The most honest way I can answer this question is to have a meditation practice of your own, and let your kids become curious about what you’re doing. By modeling the act of slowing down and taking care of your own experience, your kids may ask questions about it or express an interest in joining you. I think this is a beautiful and organic introduction for kids, and also keeps us accountable for the very thing we’re hoping to share with them. 

 

 

Bonus Tips

I personally think meditation has the potential to transform our entire approach to parenting. It has helped me reflect on all the ways that I felt cared for and loved as a child, and also all the ways in which I felt rejected or hurt by the way I interpreted other people’s actions. It gives us a chance to show up for ourselves and heal all the parts of us that might still be wounded from our own childhood, and then we can intentionally parent from a place of wholeness, rather than a place of unexamined fragmentation. In a sense, we’re re-parenting ourselves as we emerge as the inspired parents we know we can be.   

 

Get to know Jackie

What are the first 3 things you do after you wake up in the morning?                 

Read with my son

Morning yoga flow

Lemon water and mediation
What is the best advice you have ever gotten? And what is the best advice you could give? 
The best advice I’ve ever received is to speak to myself like I would my best friend… I have a tendency to give others space and acceptance in a way I don’t always offer myself. This advice is a helpful reminder to stay easy and gentle with myself too. 
Advice I would give is to just show up… and keep on showing up. Feel your feet on the ground, take a deep breath, and stay open and curious about what’s right in front of you. 
Tell us something we don’t know about you and about what you do. 
I think something many people don’t know about me is that studying theater and working as a professional actor served as a gateway to my spiritual journey. My time spent in conservatory may have been the first time in my adult life where I felt connected to my body again, where I understood presence in an embodied way. It is where I learned what it meant to get out of my way or out of my head, and plug into a state of spontaneity and play… where I could open up to something larger than myself, and flow. 
Walk us through your beauty/ wellness routine.
My beauty/wellness routine would probably best be called my Whole Self routine because I believe in an integrated spirit/mind/body approach to self-care. Half is listening to my heart and nourishing it, the other half is maintenance on all levels. 
My morning routine looks something like this:
-Meditation
-Warm lemon water to support digestion and immunity
-Movement of some form (yoga or dancing)
-Warm shower with cool water at the end
-Essence or serum on the face (currently using Matrescence Brightening Essence!),
-Moisturize face and body
-A moment to appreciate caring for myself this way with the hope that this care may turn outward and extend to other people and circumstances I may encounter the rest of the day
What is your favorite thing about yourself? 
Something I can appreciate about myself is my level of commitment to whatever I’m involved with or currently taking on. It’s taken me a while to learn how to say no because when I spread myself thin, my level of engagement is compromised and that doesn’t feel right for me. I want to be thoughtful and considered about what I do and the type of impact that can have on the people around me and world I live in. 
Jackie Stewart  Mindful Meditation Teacher
Slowing down and finding gentleness is where my feet touch the ground in my motherhood practice… and yes, motherhood is an intentional practice for me. When I slow down I notice more. I notice when I might be caught up, when I’m holding on to an expectation, when I’m running an old narrative that doesn’t help the current situation. I notice when I’m being hard on myself, and when I’m being hard on myself that usually means I’m being hard on the people around me. Cue the gentleness. When I can give myself this kind of space, and meet my experiences with acceptance rather than judgement… there’s a sense of ease that sets in. A sense of okay-ness with myself, and that the next moment is workable. That I can approach it with intention.  When I slow down, I can show up for the people around me because I’m actually paying attention to them. I can take them in with interest. I can become curious about experiencing the world through their eyes, and this creates a feeling of connection and understanding. One of the most incredible gifts that becoming a mother has done for me, is being able to re-experience the world in a brand new way, through the eyes of my son. Becoming interested in what interests him. When I slow down, I can remember what is important in my life. For me, this is connection, this is grounding.  xo Jackie
 




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