TIPS WHILE WRANGLING A CURIOUS 1 YEAR OLD
BY PAIGE K JOHNSTON
In the 18 months leading up to the birth of my son, I had two miscarriages. I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager, and this time was particularly challenging. I decided that I need to work on my mental health if I was going to create the conditions in my body to have a healthy pregnancy (mentally and physically), so I took at class on mindfulness meditation at the local hospital. I had read about mindfulness before, but reading about it does not necessarily lead to practicing it! I threw myself into it and loved the way it made me feel - uplifted and like I was able to see daily life with more calmness and positivity. By the time I became pregnant with Aaru and up to when I birthed him into the world, I felt very changed.
But actually having a baby shook me, and now a year into his life, I have again become estranged from most attendance to my mental needs and to being able to find calm amidst the storm of parenthood. Conversely, I think about, read about, and even give college lectures on the topic of self care and ritual, so it's important to again find my way back!
1. HAVE ONE RITUAL YOU DO EVERY DAY
The ritual can be something that seems small (giving thanks before your evening meal) or something bigger (like meditating for 30 minutes). Whatever it is, you are acknowledging that your body deserves and needs care and kindness. My one ritual is making tea every morning. I make it both for myself and for my partner without fail. I choose cups that I love, I spend time deciding on which tea is just right for that morning, and I pour and steep the water with patience. I *try* to drink it mindfully, but many days making it is the more crucial part of the ritual!
2. WHEN YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH, JUST BRUSH YOUR TEETH
This is wisdom that my midwife's assistant imparted to me when I was doing postpartum yoga with her and panicking about having lost all focus in my brain. She said when I brush my teeth I shouldn't do anything else - don't look at my phone, don't read, don't walk around, don't vacuum, etc. Just brush. This is very much in the spirit of Buddhist mindfulness, the bottom line being do NOT multi-task! Mono-task and be present.
3. LOOK AT THE SKY ONCE A DAY AND REALLY SEE IT
This comes out of the goal of "coming to your senses," meaning truly being in touch with your multi-sensorial being in the world. So often we are just looking, hearing, etc. but aren't actually seeing or listening. The goal is of course to do this throughout the day, but in the spirit of doing what I feel I can and not judging myself for starting small, I take time to really see the sky once a day. I take note of the sky's mood, the clouds, my perception of wind changing or storms coming, and I'm reminded of how it has changed, even subtly, from the previous day.