Reborn Into Motherhood
So I celebrated the big 4-0 in September. Pause.
Does that put me in the “old” category? To many younger folks (39 and below) it probably does! Yikes! Enough said.
Among the flurry of celebrations with family and friends, I decided to give myself a very special gift for my birthday: SILENCE.
No, not you silence and ponder, but me, I literally went away for a weekend of silence during a yoga and meditation retreat in the mountains of Quebec. I left the kids with my husband and I spent my days in silence, barely even making eye contact with those around me, walking in nature, doing yoga, meditating, colouring mandalas, writing in my journal, and basically just BEING.
IT WAS INCREDIBLE! IT WAS INCREDIBLE! INCRRRRRRREDIBLE!
Everything you can imagine happened – I felt more relaxed, more present, calmer, less edgy, less foggy and more balanced. What I wasn’t expecting when I returned home was this sense of being reborn into motherhood. I’ll explain.
Having a child deeply changed my life
When I got pregnant with my first daughter, I sort of went with the flow. I was ready to have babies, everyone around me was having babies and my husband and I wanted children so bam, I quickly got pregnant. I read all the books, did the prenatal classes, prenatal yoga… Then I gave birth (not as planned but as I always say, being a parent is a lesson in letting go)…
…And I was a MOM! The Brigitte I was moments before giving birth had just vanished. Just like that I was responsible for someone else’s survival. And again I just went with the flow. I had to.
It was demanding. Really demanding. As a very independent and gypsy-like soul, I found it difficult to now be bound to my home, cleaning up puke, poo and pee and I felt like a cow nursing/pumping all day long. Of course, there were many amazing moments (I don’t think I even need to say this!) but overall it just turned my world upside down.
Then I had my second one and I just kept on truckin’. I was a mom, I was responsible for two very dependant souls. I moved to the burbs and life just went on. I still did exercise and had some time to myself occasionally – I didn’t just scrap everything I learned over the last 14 years of being in the mind-body industry. But spontaneous moments spent singing kirtans in a group, doing yoga retreats when I wanted, going to outdoor music shows, having a massage when I felt like it, was definitely more complicated to make happen.
As 40 started to creep closer and closer, a little voice kept telling me that what I really wanted most was time with myself, time to reflect upon my life, time to do things I’d been putting off for 7 years, time to rest, time to reconnect with my soul, time to be silent.
And so, I reserved my weekend yoga and meditation retreat. Wow, just what my soul was craving.
When I returned from my retreat, I saw my girls as though it was for the first time again. My heart was open, my heart was ready to be a mom (not that I hadn’t been one for over 6 years, but it just felt different somehow). I adore my girls, we have tons of fun together and I do my best to listen and respect them, but somehow something changed.
It’s like I truly accepted my role as a Mom instead of fighting it. I let go of this need to prove myself and to control. I let go of this need to be a certain way. I just was. And they just were too.
There was an incredible sense of peace inside.
I hadn’t realized I’d been holding so much tension, holding even my breath.
I’ve been taking sighs of relief since then, feeling like I’ve found new space in my body. It’s amazing how we can function with high levels of stress and not be conscious of it. I consider myself someone very in-tune with her body and emotions, but I didn’t imagine at what point I had layers upon layers of stress and tension. I guess the expectations I and society put on myself was starting to be too much.
Not all stress is bad. Stress that leads towards sensory stimulation which then leads to learning is a positive stress. “Distress” however leads to a disconnect of the circuits of communication within our bodies.
Stress doesn’t always present itself in an emotional form. Muscular tensions, poor posture, shallow breathing are all ways that stress manifests itself within our bodies.
These symptoms are also all signs of stress.
- appetite changes
- difficulty concentrating
- low productivity
- poor judgement
- ringing in the ears
- grinding teeth
- loss of sexual desire
- chest pain
- low energy
- difficulty swallowing
Regardless of the type of stress we face (exam, conflicts, embarrassment, traffic jams etc), our bodies respond in the same way.
We either flee or fight…it’s the fight or flight response.
When we perceive danger – whether real or imagined – our blood flows towards the brain stem and thus away from our frontal lobes. This happens because we need to react fast without much conscious thought. However, it’s important to be able to access our frontal lobes in stressful situations because they allow us to rationalize calmly.
This is why doing mind-body activities like yoga, pilates, Brain-Gym, Tai-Chi and meditation is so good for us. Through these activities we can access our frontal lobes and not feel so overwhelmed.
We can handle difficult situations in a calm and centered way. Every time? Not necessarily, but it gets easier the more we practice these activities (but don’t beat yourself up when you lose patience, we must also learn to forgive and move on).
Finding the right stress reliever for you is the key.
Over 2 months later, am I still feeling light and zen? There are times that I need to dust off the layers of stress, but I seem to do it more frequently so there isn’t such a huge build up.
Finding the right stress-reliever for you is key. Not everyone can manage going away for an entire weekend retreat nor do they even want to necessarily.
Here are a few ideas on how to find more peace in your life:
- Self massage with balls (video here).
- Go outside, now that it’s winter, gear yourself up and go for a nice walk.
- Have a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil. Finish it off with a warm cup of camomile tea or Golden Milk
- Make something artsy – even if you’re not! Creative activities boost serotonin which improves mood. If you’re not attached to end results, you’ll lower your heart rate and blood pressure
- Take a few deep breaths in thinking of something positive (I am calm, I have energy, I have enough time, I am enough, I am rested, I am loving, I am strong etc – make it in the present as though it were real). Breathe out slowly
- Play loud upbeat music and dance
- Express gratitude
- Move! Exercise increases endorphins, lowers cortisol and boosts immunity
Supplements that help ease stress
Always consult your doctor or naturopath before taking these
- Vitamin B1
- Ashwagandha (check out Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager)
If you feel like you need to connect with your frontal lobes a little more these days, give me a shout. I’d be happy to help by email, in person or even do it by skype!
Breathe, grow and let go,