By Lena Franklin, LCSW
I’m consistently hearing from my mom friends and clients that finding time to meditate is “impossible” when you’re experiencing pregnancy brain or immersed in the day-to-day rhythm of taking care of your kids. And forget getting on that meditation cushion when you have a newborn. The exhaustion is real. Modern neuroscience shows that meditation can be a transformative tool when managing stress ~ decreasing the stress hormone, cortisol, and increasing an overall capacity to shift into our parasympathetic (rest and digest) dominant nervous system. But as a mom, it can often feel that the fight with time is a never ending battle. A shift in mindset can transform the way moms meet life, moment-to-moment. Whether you’re stressed getting ready for the baby to arrive or completely and utterly exhausted from taking care of your newborn, Mindful Eating can become a way you shift into the power of presence.
What IS Mindful Eating exactly? Well, it’s an intimate attunement to tasting, smelling and feeling your food as you eat it. Think you do that already? Well, think again. The extent to which we can be present with our food is the extent to which we taste it and absorb its benefits. Have you ever downed a bag of chips or trail mix without registering even eating it? Even as a mindfulness-based psychotherapist and meditation teacher, I’ve been guilty as charged. When we’re not paying attention to what we’re putting in our bodies, we mindlessly ingest our food, often feeling dissatisfied with what we’ve just eaten. Through the art of Mindful Eating, we can shift into our embodied presence with gratitude and joy. Even a few moments of savoring our meal, tea or piece of chocolate can refuel the mind, heart and spirit in ways that allows you to journey on the path of motherhood with confidence, expanding your ability to enjoy one of the most fulfilling (but taxing!) experiences of a lifetime.
Commit to a daily Mindful Eating practice. Whether it’s when your baby is sleeping or for 5 minutes first thing in the morning, make this food or drink oriented meditation a nonnegotiable in your schedule ~ like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Gandhi would often say, “our actions express our priorities,” so as mothers, when we prioritize ourselves, we also teach our families how to care for themselves. 5-10 minutes a day is all it takes to reconnect with sacred intention and the power of presence through Mindful Eating. Consider putting this meditation practice on your calendar as if you’re making a self-care appointment with yourself!
Whether you’re sitting-down for a quiet moment with your morning oatmeal or savoring a piece of chocolate before bed, transition into focusing on your tastebuds. Remember, our senses are how we experience the world. If we’re unconsciously eating and drinking our way through life, we’re not authentically experiencing the richness that life offers. Through the art of Mindful Eating, we practice “single attention tasking” which is a mindfulness practice of doing one thing at a time. It’s a simple concept but not easy to do, as we’ve become conditioned to feed our babies while making to-do lists in our heads and scrolling on Facebook. Stop, pause and drop into the present moment experience. Take small bites and feel the piece of nourishment swirl around your mouth. Experience the emotions that emerge within from being awake to the food before you. Slowly, mindfully take in your food with untethered attention to taste. This is an emotional and energetic gift to yourself as a human…and powerful mother on this earth.
When we choose mindfulness, we transform ourselves and our families. As mothers, there’s a need to weave mindfulness practices into daily life, especially when it’s not feasible to sit in meditation for 30 minutes. Mindful Eating is a meditation utilizing the sensory experience of food to anchor our awareness in the present moment. When we train the mind to be present through meditation, we’re more easily able to release worry thoughts and anxieties about the future. As mothers, anxiety can often arise through fear and doubt of our ability to nurture and raise these beautiful beings we brought into this world. Parenthood is one of the greatest gifts and responsibilities humans receive. If we can make mindfulness a priority, we can transmit this presence to our children, planting seeds of peace, love and joy in their lives before they’re even born.
As a mindfulness-based therapist, I work with pregnant women who seek to cultivate homeostasis in mind, body and heart before their babies arrive ~ threading these practices into life, fostering equanimity that spans far beyond delivery. There are various meditations that can be done to promote sustained peaceful presence, even in the face of stress, worry and exhaustion. These mindfulness tools can be carried into motherhood, offering a safe refuge to return home to in the face of life’s chaos. The art of Mindful Eating holds the capacity to be your practice of awakening into motherhood with unbounded balance, joy and fulfillment.
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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.