Title: Breathe Mama Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms
Author: Shonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW
If you want to have more peace in your day, feel present in your life, and develop deeper connections with your family and those around you, this book is for you. Author Shonda Moralis teaches not only why mindfulness meditation is important, but how to accomplish it and make it a part of your everyday routine.
I recently asked several moms what they think of when they hear the words “meditation” and “mindfulness.” Meditation, they said, is napping, breathing, taking the time to think of nothing, and/or sitting somewhere quiet. Mindfulness, they responded, is hard to achieve and find, important, being present in your moment, and/or being conscientious and considerate.
Moralis says, “Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with purpose and without judgment…mindfulness meditation is just one type of meditation among many” (p. 8).
Throughout the book she presents over 60 “mindful breaks” that can help moms be present. She uses the course of a day to divide each section and includes a mindfulness log and notes pages at the back. This book takes the somewhat overwhelming task of beginning a mindfulness meditation practice and makes it accessible and enjoyable for all.
Parts I Liked Best:
Mindfulness is not something that comes easily for me, and while I have practiced meditation before, I always feel like I am fighting it. By taking “mindful breaks,” not only have I had more opportunities to practice throughout the day, but I have also found myself missing those moments when I skip them.
One specific theme I pulled from the book is to let go of perfection and control. Towards the beginning of the book, Moralis shares a message for mothers, but it can be applied to anyone and to any facet of our lives. She says:
“When we are honest and authentic in our conversations with other moms, we invite them to speak openly about their struggles thereby offering one another support and empathy. We are more free to champion one another rather than compare and judge. The more accurately we view the facade of perfect motherhood, the less pressure we put on ourselves to achieve what is obtainable only at great cost to ourselves and our families” (p. 10).
In this fast-paced, social-media-filled world, it can be easy for moms, myself included, to feel like there is a certain level or expectation of motherhood perfection they need to achieve. This lie not only hurts us and our families, but as Moralis says, it limits our abilities to reach out and help those around us.
Being in control of life one hundred percent of the time simply is not possible, no matter how hard we try. Kids get sick, plans get cancelled, job layoffs happen, etc. While the unknown can be a scary place, being mindful and present allows a person to achieve a sense of calm in the storm.
Towards the end of the book, the author shares a story of when she was pregnant and had a series of complications that landed her in the hospital for surgery. She relates, “The ability to calm myself with my breath and notice when the what-ifs were taking up residence in my mind helped to ease the discomfort. It did not eliminate the trials I faced, but offered me a place to rest my attention for a short while” (p. 143).
I recently put this mindfulness break into practice during my Milton Dentist visit and found that it really does work. I wasn’t happy to be there by any means, but I was able to relax and ease my discomfort considerably.
How This Book Made an Impact in My Life:
This book has taught me that mindfulness is not just something we practice once a day and then move on. It is a practice we can use at any time and in any place to reset our thoughts, calm our mind, and bring ourselves back to the present. Not only has this practice helped me as a mother, but I have begun teaching it to my children. There are examples throughout the book that include family participation, such as the “Three-Breath Hug,” but many of the mindfulness breaks can be adapted in some way for younger children.
My focus has been changed as I experience the happy chaos that is everyday family life, and I now “See how one small mindful break can potentially transform an ordinary moment into one that feels remarkable” (p.130).
One lucky mother will receive their own copy of Breathe Mama Breathe! Leave a comment by the end of Friday, March 24th to enter. Winners will be notified by email.
QUESTION: Do you currently schedule time for meditation or mindfulness? Can you think of times during the day when this would be helpful?
CHALLENGE: Through this book or other resources, learn more about meditation and mindfulness and how you can apply it in your life.
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Edited by Aubrey Degn and Sarah Monson.