Author Marianne Ryan knows how stressful being a mom can be and advises daily meditation to help de-stress. Here, she shares 5 simple steps for successful mediation.
Meditation - who has time for it?
In the craziness of family life, balancing the needs of a new baby and/or small children with running the household, holding down a job, not to mention finding time for ourselves, we all have a full “to do list” that we never seem to complete. This is what makes it so important we take some quiet time for ourselves now and then. A great way to do this is to meditate however, when it comes to meditation, you might be tempted to skip it since, “who has time to sit around and do nothing?”
Let’s be clear, meditation is NOT “doing nothing” - research has shown actual positive changes in the brain after only eight weeks of practicing meditation.
There are many positive benefits to meditation; it can:
- Improve memory
- Improve self-awareness
- Increase compassion
- Improve quality of sleep
- Decrease stress
In addition to this, people who suffer with chronic pain often find pain relief and improved coping skills when they practice mediation regularly. Many women experience lower back and pelvic pain after childbirth and meditation is one of the easiest ways to relieve it. In my physical therapy practice I often advise clients who suffer with chronic headaches, TMJ, neck, back, pelvic and gastrointestinal pain to practice meditation daily.
Initially most moms feel they are too busy to add one more thing to their daily “to do list”. However, I’m sure that, no matter how busy you are, you would welcome the possibility of decreasing your stress and getting a better night’s sleep. Let me make it easy for you, all you need to do is follow the simple steps below and I promise you, it will only take ten minutes a day.
Here is a list of how to get started:
- Schedule it
Try to meditate at the same time every day. Most people find early mornings are best so they can start their day refreshed and centered. If you are too busy in the morning, try meditating during your lunch-break or whenever you can fit it into your schedule on a consistent basis.
- Find a place where you can shut the door
You can do it on your bed or even in the bathroom. Leave your phone and computer off and consider using a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
- Use a timer
You can use the one on your phone; try to pick a gentle and welcoming ringtone and set it for 10 minutes. The last thing you want is to use a jarring alarm. Another alternative is to use a kitchen time, or alarm clock with the volume down low.
- Sit in a comfortable position (or lie down)
You may need to sit on top of a pillow or yoga block to sit comfortably. Cross your legs and place both hands on your knees with the tips of your thumb and middle finger together and palms facing towards the ceiling.
If sitting is uncomfortable, you can try lying down with pillows supporting your head and knees, but don’t let yourself fall asleep.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath
Breathe through your nostrils, feeling your breath enter your body and your belly rising and falling with each breath. Continue to focus on your breath and mentally take a “look” at your body. Start with your face and mentally examine it. Is there any tension? If so relax the muscles. Relax your jaw and facial muscles then have a “look” at your neck and shoulders and release tension as you explore with your closed eyes. Continue to scan and release tension in your body from head to toe, as you feel the air entering and leaving your nostrils.
Here is an important tip:
When your mind becomes distracted with other thoughts, try to mentally “file” each thought into a category and label it with an emotion such as anger, fear, or happiness or use a subject name, like family, work or things to do. After you label the intruding thought, let it go and return to scanning your body.
Continue this until the alarm goes off, and then take a moment to reflect and give thanks before you jump back into your regular routine.
After childbirth many moms are so concerned about getting back into pre-pregnancy shape that they forget to focus on decreasing stress their levels. In my book Baby Bod, I will teach you how to get back into shape and how to use breathing exercises and some self-massage techniques to relieve tension in your body. Adding daily mini-meditation sessions to your program will help you make a fabulous recovery, and can even make you a calmer, more compassionate mother and partner.
To get a sneak preview of the book, you can download a FREE section called "Why You Should NOT Do Sit Ups to Flatten Your Tummy" by clicking here.
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Lastly, if you would like to speak with me to discuss how the Baby Bod program can help you get back into shape after having a baby (even if your 'baby' is all grown up by now!), drop me a line via the contact form on this site.
Marianne Ryan PT
MARIANNE RYAN PT, is a physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. She is the owner and Clinical Director of MRPT Physical Therapy, and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association Media Corps. With more than 30 years' experience, she specializes in the treatment of the spine, pelvis and jaw, with particular emphasis on the treatment of prenatal and postpartum patients. She has taught physical therapy treatment and exercises for prenatal and postpartum women on the nurse midwifery program at Columbia University School of Nursing, and has also taught at the TMJ clinic at New York University Dental School. A much sought-after media guest, Marianne has appeared on dozens of national TV and radio shows, and has also been featured in Red Book, Fitness Magazine, USA Today, Shape Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. She was also featured in the film Drifting, a documentary about movement produced by the Tribeca Film Institute. Passionate about helping women to restore their stomachs after pregnancy and childbirth, Marianne is author of the book Baby Bod® - Turn Flab to Fab in 12 Weeks Flat.