Mindfulness is for everyone, and it’s never too early of too late to begin learning the mysterious language of the mind. Today, i continue to work with individuals who are not mothers; men, children, and women not yet expecting to begin families of their own, are all excellent candidates for Mindfulness practice because all that one must bring with him or herself is a sense of curiousity. The sub-population of prenatal/postpartum/perinatal Mindfulness became of deep interest to me with the birth of my first child nearly five years ago. It was then that it became clear to me that my gift lay in communicating between these two worlds.
Becoming a mother marks a significant shift in a woman’s identity. Some even equate the birth event as the birth not only of a newborn miracle, yet of a mother herself as a unique identity not separate from her former self, yet altered. In many cultures world-wide this sacred shift is regarded with great respect, and mother is cared for with the same nurturing, warmth and doting as the newborn babe. The mother is mothered. Depending on the sub-culture in which we live here in the West, we may experience various degrees of this community that holds a space for caring for mother just as much as baby; yet more often the case is that days or weeks after birth we find ourselves home, alone, just baby and me, expected to care for the both of us. Ultimately, out of necessity, baby’s needs comes first – these needs are immediate and frequent, and leave very little time for self-care.
If we accept that our days, weeks, years are filled with highs and lows, pleasant and unpleasant, peace and stress, then Motherhood serves as the ultimate magnification of this truth. Motherhood is in many ways the perfect grounds for our practice because of the dissonance between direct experience and our perception of how things “should” look; and because in it we experience a strong opposing pull from many of the teachings in the practice. If Mindfulness offers the concept of slowing down, pausing, to reconnect, then Maternity often looks like a race against the clock; if Mindfulness teaches single-pointed awareness, then motherhood is the epitome of multi-tasking; Mindfulness invites us to trust in change, and in many ways we either crave or fear change when it comes to our children, their behavior, their “phases”.
The Mindful Mamma orientation holds that Maternal Wellness is comprised of a woman’s emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual sense of health. Like a fingerprint, it is entirely unique to her alone. Maternal Wellness is comprised of a layered set of realities including: one’s own personality or disposition, genetic predisposition to hormonal or biochemical changes, social support, contemporary anthropological realities such as geographic distance from maternal figures, logistic accessibility to resources, beliefs on self-care, and social perceptions of expectations.