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.
“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.
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.
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Full of love for mamas everywhere 💖. Motherhood is the sweetest sisterhood and fiercest warriorhood I have ever experienced. I have never known this level of honesty, vulnerability, courage, strength, compassion, connection, and endless support. Inspired by the mamas who keep it real, raw, and totally human.
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.
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