Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by melissanreynolds
This is your mindfulness 101 a brief introduction – what you need to know about mindfulness as a busy mama. What it is, benefits, my experience, how you can practically fit it in, resources and more.
Let’s bust a myth first – it’s not time consuming and you don’t need to purchase a thing. Intrigued? Read on.
Definition of Mindfulness
Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as:
in the present moment, and
Kabat Zinn is the founder of the Mindfulness -Based Stress Reduction program that has been used for chronic illness, veterans and more for the past 40 years. It is a structured eight week program introducing the concepts and practices of mindfulness. It has research backing up it’s efficacy in many chronic illnesses. Including chronic pain, which is of particular interest to me.
The conditions that mindfulness can help include:
- Chronic pain
- Immune disorders
Benefits of mindfulness include:
This article provides a fantastic summary of the research and reading I have done over the past several years. I provide a reading list below as well.
- Relieve stress
- Reduce blood pressure
- Improve sleep
- Reduce chronic pain
- Increased emotional regulation (reduces anxiety and depression)
- Better physical health (helps a range of chronic conditions)
- Improved memory and attention
- Stronger relationships
My Experience and Benefits
Mindfulness is a pivotal part of my holistic management plan for managing fibromyalgia, four children and the rest of life. I practice guided meditation every day to help me with sleep, rest, stress and pain management. I colour with the children as a shared mindfulness practice. I maintain a journaling practice that is mostly freewriting, but often I will use prompts to help me process various things. All movement that I undertake as a person with a sensitive system is mindful – yoga or walking done with mindfulness of how it is impacting my body.
Years of practice has decreased my stress response and helps me when I am overwhelmed. I use my mindful breathing practices whenever I am experiencing stress, overwhelm or high pain levels. These tools are a crucial part of my daily management toolkit.
In this free series I teach you my four best yoga tools that can become part of your daily plan.
There are many mindfulness practices. Meditation is one that I practice regularly, it has a whole load of research and benefits on its own.
- Body scan meditation
- Mindful breathing
- Five senses exercise
- Mindful movement (yoga)
Each of these practices deserve a whole post on their own. I will work through the list as I am able to. My focus here on this site is to help you use these tools in the context of our super busy lives. None of these tools need to take more than a few minutes a day.
My post sharing my best mindfulness, rest and self-care tool ever Yoga Nidra Helps You Manage All The Things – gives you my best tool, it can be done at multiple junctures through the day (you choose) and for 10, 15, 20 or more minutes according to what you have.
How to Practice
It’s about quality not quantity. You want to create a simple but sustainable habit to complete. So think about what practice resonates best for you. I began with meditation because that is what I needed, profound rest. By taking 30 minutes to do my meditation, I give quality to the rest of my day.
You could start with a five minute free writing practice. Get a cuppa, set a timer and write for five (or 10) minutes. Whatever comes up, allow it out. I have a couple of pretty journals you might like to help you with this below.
The point is that there is no one way to do it. Try a few ways, see what resonates and then commit. All you need is 5-10 minutes a day. Then the hard part is taking your mindfulness throughout your day. Being mindful outside of your formal practice. This is where you reap the most benefit.
I created the below gratitude journal after purchasing a couple of journals that just didn’t hit the spot. I wanted a simple practice in a pretty format. After seeing how bland the last one I bought was, I set out to create my own. And I love it! Check it out here.
Include your children
As a mama, it’s nice when we get a break to focus on ourselves. But we can also include our children, it is wonderful modelling and a good skill for them to develop.
I practice the “blow the candle” technique when my children are wound up. Inhale, smell the candle. Exhale, slowly blow the candle out.
We colour together.
My eldest two have done many hours of yoga with me.
How to fit it in
Besides including your children, which leaves many hours to find a time to fit it in. My favourite times to practice, besides all day when I need it, are first thing in the morning and before bed.
I get up 15 minutes before the children for quiet time. Sitting in my favourite chair, with a heat pack, coffee and some toast, I do some deep breathing and watch the Tui (NZ native birds) dance and sing. I also step out during the day at random times to see what they are up to.
For a more formal practice, I do a Yoga Nidra guided meditation in the afternoon (it’s my secret sauce for coping with chronic pain and fatigue with four small children) and a body scan meditation before I fall asleep.
Practically for you, some times to consider adding a brief practice:
- When you first wake up, do some gentle breathing in bed or a comfortable chair
- Before you get dressed do some gentle yoga stretches with your breath
- On the bus, or while driving, take five deep, gentle breaths
- During your morning team break, pay attention to the whole process of making and consuming your coffee
- At lunch time take a meditation break
- When your partner gets home (a friend visits) sneak in a practice (take a hot bath!)
- After the children are in bed try some restorative yoga, it might help you sleep better
- At bedtime do a body scan meditation
I hope you have found this helpful and that you are going to give some mindfulness practices a go. I have many resources to support you with that. Find a reading list below for further detail.
Reading list for Mindfulness 101
Defining Mindfulness article
Benefits of Mindfulness article
(Please note these are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using these links, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you)
Wherever You Go There You Are – this is a general book about mindfulness and meditation from the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy (MBSR) programs. I highly recommend reading this one.
You Are Not Your Pain – this is about using meditation for pain management
Full Catastrophe Living – this is also about using meditation for illness management
Yoga Nidra The Art of Transformational Sleep by Kamini Desai – this is my favourite book about yoga nidra guided meditation