I am really feeling the benefit of peppering my day with mini-meditations right now and the first one I want to share with you is this: the mindful pause.
It’s particularly useful for mothers. As a mother, your daily experience is of the craziness of multiple simultaneous demands on your attention, frequent interruptions, on-the-spot decision making, settling squabbles, switching tasks frequently and knowing what you do shapes the lives of your children.
Taking regular “mini-breaks” or moments to pause is necessary to regroup, recharge and restore the relaxation response in your body. It’s like a system reboot. It makes it possible to reconnect to the here and now and mother mindfully again. Regardless of what is going on in your head, the mindful pause can bring on the relaxation response and enable clearer thinking, opening up more choice and restoring a calmer you.
Transitioning from one activity to another (e.g., from the park to the car, the car to the lunch table, the lunch table to the play area) or from one role to another (e.g., from work to home or child care to work, from school drop-off back to the car) is the perfect time to pause and tune in to your breath.
The exercise below can be used before, during or after a stressful encounter or environment. For example, your child suffers from separation anxiety. Your stress levels might rise in anticipation of dropping him off, so you can do it then. You can do it during your handover to stay as calm and centered as you can, and you can use it afterward if you notice you have been holding tension during the drop-off.
Over time you can develop multiple triggers to pause, but at first, use any transition as the main trigger. As you being to train your awareness of stress, you will interrupt this more quickly and choose to pause.
The Mindful Pause
With your mouth closed, tune in to your breath. Actually feel your breath coming in and out rather than thinking about the breath. Deliberately slow your breathing down and then just allow your breath to assume its own natural rhythm. You don’t need to force it in any way.
When your attention wanders, gently bring it back and use it as your anchor to steady and ground yourself. Rest in the breath. Relax into the breath.
Continue for approximately two minutes (or longer if you can), then gradually open your awareness back out to your surroundings and take this calm with you as you move on with your day.
As one of my mindfulness teachers says: trust your breath — just trust your breath.
May you be well.
Deep breathing photo available from Shutterstock