Slow down Sally..
As women we generally tend to be facilitators, nurturers and great at being resourceful for our families. We want to be a successful mum, friend, wife, business woman, and member of society.
This year something has changed in me. I'm not sure exactly what the catalyst was, except that I was exhausted from business, exhausted by family, exhausted by my body that I have not looked after, exhausted by my need to achieve, be validated, and needed. I was exhausted from exhaustion.
By nature I’m a fidgeter! If I’m not doing something, I start to feel anxious; I’m not achieving anything, I’m wasting precious time, I should be folding washing, spending every spare moment soaking up my children - who won’t be in my nest forever - working on my business, or touching base with the long list of people I feel I’m neglecting. Yes my mind is manic, like many of the women around me!
My mother has said to me on many occasions: “you do too much.” For some of us, this is the language that feeds our chaos; yay they notice I care, yay I must be close to conquering this bizzo, or (the classic martyr mantra); I’m a mum that’s “what I do”.
Recently I had a go at meditation, I closed my eyes, breathed deeply and focused on the sound of my breath……and that bloody fly in my room - I need to clean all the fly gunk off the windows, urrrg look at those dirty sills…….Meditation; I was incapable.
I gave mindfulness a go, not so demanding, I sat there and took in the rural scenery from my bed, I felt, I reveled, I took heed of the things around me…… noticed the gentle whirring of the wind, the small droplets of water appearing on the window,….washing, WASHING, THE WASHINGS ON THE LINE……….Yup failed that one too….
Next, I tried just sitting in a quiet room - a conquest itself with 3 young children under my roof. And ya know what, it drove me mental to the point of black rage.
Recently I watched a video by a motivational speaker, she said that; “if you can’t sit still and do nothing”, if you are “incapable” of this act - then it’s says one simple thing; "we don’t like what we see - we can’t bare to be alone with ourselves". And this really struck a chord with me. I am guilty of not sitting still, I am guilty of being unable to be alone with myself. When I am "doing" it quietens the beasts in my mind. But it also means that I’m incapable of seeing things as they are. I am not allowing myself the quiet to reconnect with myself, with reality, with the goals, wants and needs that "I" have.
As mums we sometimes talk about trying to "find" ourselves again after becoming a mum, as, along that journey, this can sometimes become lost. And to do this we go and find hobbies, go to the gym, get our hair done, buy a new outfit or go out with friends. All this stuff is great, but it’s intriguing that our first port of call is not to sit alone with ourselves - after all, we are trying to "find ourselves”.....
Have you been "alone" with yourself recently? Meditation, mindfulness or just stillness in silence, no distractions?
And as I sit here in this quiet room, not being still, but instead writing, I know it’s time for some alone time.
And this brings me to our children…
As parents we teach our children a large portion of what they take through to adulthood. We teach them how to cook, how to look after their bodies, how their bodies work, how to treat people, social skills, budgeting, reading, creativity, exploring their imaginations....the list goes on. I know many parents teach their children about their own emotions, how to identify, deal with and express these, but how many of us teach our children long term mental health strategies, like mindfulness? In my opinion, it is a much neglected skill, and in a country where we rate in the top 3 countries for reporting of anxiety and depression disorders, I feel it’s something we need to start giving a little more attention and time to.
I have often thought about ways to do this with children, about teaching them to enjoy and be still in their own company, and the discipline of this. I don’t feel I could ask my 6 and 3 year old, let alone my 18 month old to embrace mindfulness or stillness in a quiet room. However in this day and age of technology; video games, ipads, iphones and tv's I definitely think there is a way to try to get them to start to "connect" with themselves on a quieter more introspective level.
A few years ago when I was mum to only two of my children, I met a mum of 4 at the local swimming pool. We got to talking, and I asked her; “how do you do it? Where do you find your quiet?" Her answer? From the time the children are 18 months, they are expected to go to their rooms between 4 and 5pm. During this time they are to choose to either read, write or do a puzzle. Yes they are still "doing" but they are being introduced to the concept of quiet, and start to explore some of the more subtle qualities of their character without all of the noise, without interaction with others. I know at this point many will be saying - oh good luck getting my 3 year old to do that, but I think that with time, patience, persuasion and perserverance, this is something that this year, my family will be implementing. I like the idea also because 4pm tends to be that time of the day when all of the kids are exhausted and grumpy, it could be a great way to channel some of those frustrations, and an opportunity for me to learn the same.
I’d love to know your tips and ideas for learning stillness and introspection, and how we can mentor this to our children. So if you’ve got some great idea’s, please comment below and let us know!
Till next time,