Don’t judge me. I am terrible at yoga. In fact, I am terrible at relaxing. And for a long time I didn’t believe it was humanly possible for me to meditate.
Picture this: a trendy Boston yoga studio, dim lighting and 30 people getting their “ommm” on. The instructor tells everyone to clear their minds and center. Meanwhile, in my head, I am creating five to–do lists, planning my outfit for tomorrow, reviewing mnemonics for my next dental school exam, trying my best not to fall all while panicking that I am not doing this “right.” And clearly I wasn’t doing it right. So I left yoga. Forever. I was a mediation failure. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, “clear” my brain.
So, there I was. A yoga failure. A hot yoga failure. This began my journey to believing that I could not meditate. I (wrongly) associated these topics. Meditation must mean being able to clear your mind, right? Turns out, that’s not exactly true. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago I started to read about “mindfulness meditation” that I had an Oprah-Winfrey style “Ah- ha!” moment.
What is Mindfulness?
I had to Google it. It’s the “quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”. Or in more depth: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. When I read this definition of “meditation” I thought: I CAN do this. FOCUS? I can focus. I can’t clear my head but I sure as heck can focus. And awareness of my feelings and thoughts- now that is something I can wrap my brain around!
And I needed this. 6 months ago I was closing in on the final months of my second pregnancy, opening my dream office (with a dream partner), teaching full time running a household and attempting to raise a high energy 3 year old. Life was wonderful but stressful. I was tired and losing my cool with the people I loved the most. Then mindfulness fell in to my lap. I began to understand that I could prevent that that overwhelmed feeling by self-diagnosing the signs in myself of when I was getting stressed. It was about focusing and becoming aware of MYSELF and my reactions. And best of all- this practice doesn’t have to be done all alone or even in a yoga studio- it’s practiced in daily living.
And now, am I a mindfulness expert? Ha. Far from it! But I feel like I am on this great path to practicing this concept more each day. I can feel that I am calmer; I’m more in control of my emotions, my actions, my reactions (and with a three-year old at home- this is HUGE).
Life has a funny way of showing you that you are on the right path. A few weeks ago- mBrace Orthodontics asked parents – what would you like to learn about to better support your parenting and your children. They responded with the topic of “Mindfulness” which led me to contacting Bethany Cunningham, a mindfulness educator. After an hour of sitting with her over coffee- I can tell you- I absolutely can not wait for March 2nd when we welcome her to our office to share more tools and strategies for creating mindful and “heartful” children (and selves for that matter!)
(If you are local to mBrace Orthodontics and would like to join us in our mPower Speaker Series, please visit http://mpowerspeaker.bpt.me for tickets)