By Caroline Skydemore, Unimenta Operations Manager
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with Emma Sue for 4 years now. I have sent out newsletters and published blog posts on the topic of mindfulness, sought out resources and videos on the importance of being “in the moment”: I have even had the privilege of attending one of her workshops and learning first hand how to find a moment’s mindfulness. But I still need to remind myself to do this. I still need to quash that voice in my head that tells me I don’t have TIME to be mindful; I can’t waste a minute of my time on ME; I can’t afford to take a few precious moments for myself.
Lately we have had things a little tougher than usual. We are currently working through a bereavement that was entirely unexpected and has knocked us all for six. The knock-on effect has been one of total exhaustion, with late nights, early mornings, phone calls in the early hours – all the usual trappings of a family departure – and even fewer free moments in my day than usual. But I have also needed those moments of mindfulness more than ever. Here’s where I have found them:
Hanging out the laundry
I usually do this first thing, before my husband leaves for work and the rest of the family begin our home-school day. I ask him to stay with the kids so it’s just me and the morning sun. Our backgarden is turfed over an old Roman road, making it impossible to put a full-size airer into the ground, so we have a very small, free-standing airer that is actually designed to go camping! For this reason, I have to be rather methodical in my approach to laundry-hanging, simply to hang a family of five’s laundry in such a limited space! This is my favourite mindful moment of the day and honestly sets me up for what lies ahead…
Watering the plants
We grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables, but that means that they need looking after, particularly in light of this amazing summer we have been enjoying. I usually water the plants late evening, after we have eaten, washed up, got the kids ready for bed, and usually while my husband is reading them a bedtime story. Sometimes I use the hose, but most days I fill the watering cans from our water butts. The slow-flowing water trickles into the cans, forcing me to slow down – something I often need after a full-pelt day with 3 kids under six. In this hot weather, each pot and basket needs most of a can, and needs to be fed slowly to ensure the water soaks into the dry soil. It can only be done slowly, gently, and with care.
Feeding my son
I still breastfeed my 15 month old son twice a day – when he wakes in the morning and before bed. It is known and understood now that children thrive, both physically and emotionally, when breastfed for the first 2 years of life, and I’m incredibly lucky that my lifestyle enables me to follow WHO guidelines on this point. We had a very tough start to feeding, and it took MONTHS of work and pain to correct his latch. But I am now at a point that I can relax and let him get on with it. Often I find I am multitasking while feeding him – drinking a much-needed cup of tea, answering whatsapp messages, checking in on our facebook group, doing the weekly shop online, breaking up arguments between the twins or cajoling them into cleaning their teeth before bed… the list goes on. But when I remember, when the twins are sitting reading (or already in bed), when the shopping has been ordered or I’ve forgotten to place my phone within easy reach, then I stop and enjoy the moment. I match my breathing to his, stroke circles or patterns on his arm or back, look into those peaceful blue eyes and note the frequency of his swallowing. Those moments are ours and ours alone, and so limited – I often wish I could hold onto them forever.
During an MRI!
Last Friday I had to have an MRI. Never having had one before I had no idea what to expect, but boy, those things are loud – and long!! Shortly into the scan, once the initial instructions regarding breathing were out of the way, I realised that the best way to stay still as required, far from keeping myself tense and rigid, was in fact to concentrate on my breathing and relax. I spent a good 30 minutes in there, and came out feeling peaceful and calm. I’m not sure many people enjoy MRIs as such, but thanks to mindfulness I was able to take a potentially scary moment out of its wider context and make something good of that moment. Thanks to mindfulness, I was able to walk out of the hospital with a smile, ready to face the rest of the day.
We are experiencing a surge in mindfulness awareness at the moment. And never did we need it more! This webinar explores what being mindful and present really mean and how you can bring simply and quick mindfulness techniques into your every day. As a result you’ll be more productive, calmer and happier.