One of the things you notice as you advance through your twenties and beyond is a marked changed in the content of your Facebook feed. Photos of neon-waving and nights out start slowly disappearing, to be replaced by squishy newborns, perfect and glow-worm like in blankets. It would be easy to think, looking at such benign little beings, that they don’t have it in them to utterly transform someone’s life from top to bottom, but that’s exactly what they do.
Few people are truly prepared for the havoc (although, of course, a very lovely havoc) that is unleashed when they start a family, and the transition can be a bit of a shock. One of my friends had put together a pile of books to entertain her on maternity, looking at them with a hollow laugh at her naïve, pre-baby idea that she would have time to read. “That’s when I thought a baby would fit around my life”, she said, which I suspect is a pretty universal sentiment in new mothers as they are encountered with something that needs more attention and care than is easily imagined.
Add to this the pressure and worry that comes with having children, and the situation can become a strange and exhausting mixture of stress and elation. Even the most innocuous of activities seems to be met with a chorus of “you shouldn’t be doing that! Do it this way!” and many people seem keen to parent from a distance, with the barrage of advice often becoming confusing and contradictory. In all the maelstrom, meditation can be one way find your place of calm, and give you the confidence to forge ahead in the way you think is best.
The benefits of meditation and pregnancy can positively influence both mother and baby, as meditation reduces stress hormones which can picked up on by an unborn child, and it also makes you feel calmer and happier. Our hormones and moods can get, well, it’s probably best to say “interesting” during pregnancy and meditation can balance you out, lessening the understandable stresses and worries that come with the prospect of motherhood.
The “fight or flight” response is our bodies’ evolutionary method for dealing with life-threatening situations, and it sets off in times of stress. However in the modern world this response is triggered more often than our bodies are designed to cope with, making your heart beat faster, flooding your system with stress hormones and neglecting non-essential functioning such as digestion to go into emergency mode.
This happens with even small stresses, and they’re fewer times in life more stressful than new parenthood. Meditation calms down the area of the brain that initiates the fight or flight response so it reacts more appropriately and lets you feel more serene.
It Needn’t Take Up Too Much Time
n the hectic weeks after a birth it can be hard to find the time to brush your teeth or wash the shampoo out of your hair, so taking out time for meditation seems impossible; but all you need to find is 20 minutes in your busy schedule to achieve the amazing benefits of meditation. This short amount of time can ultimately have a very profound effect on your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Your Kids Can Join In
Once your kids get older, meditation is a great habit for them to practice. The ways in which it makes adults calmer and happier works for children too, and picking up such a healthy and beneficial practice early can stand them in good stead throughout their lives.
Holly Ashby is a writer who works for Will Williams Meditation, a London meditation centre that provides classes in Vedic meditation.
Did meditation help you in those early weeks after the birth of your baby? Would you get your children to meditate with you?
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