A series of posts on my life as a "Mindful Mommy."
Here I am, just turned 60, and I feel as if I've come full circle in my life. Have you ever felt that way? Like you're back at the beginning, right where you started?
This week I announced the launch of my new book, The Mindful Mommy's Back-to-School Survival Guide, and the subject was a surprise to many. A book for young moms? Really, Jan?
My average reader is between 45 and 60. When we're together (online or in-person) we usually talk about mid-life and finally coming to know ourselves. The rigors of Menopause is another thing we often gab about. :-) And our grandkids!
So why a book for mothers?
For me, it's more than just a fondness for mothers, or wanting to help make life a little easier for them by teaching about the values of mindfulness. It's because I am a "forever mother." My children will always be my children and I consistently think like a mommy. My youngest child is only 23. (Do the math. I didn't have her until I was 37.) So, literally, I am still a "Mindful Mommy" on a day-to-day basis, doing all that I can to live mindfully so I help her navigate her life with greater ease too!
The other reason is I continue to be passionate about mindfulness. Mindfulness actually saved my life. I discovered it when I was 41 and my daughter was 4. She was my "mindful child." Or at least my experiment in mindful parenting. :-) When she was born I was stretched to the max (pun intended) because I also had a 5 and 7-year-old at home. I didn't know up from down most days and 99% of the time operated on overload. I recall feeling like I could never catch my breath; worry and anxiety were frequent guests. Longterm tress had resulted in significant health issues. Mindfulness rescued me from my perpetually whacked out self.
I can remember the exact day I shifted: Reading the soul-balming words of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh that it was ok (and advisable) to do just one thing at a time. Really? Really? I could do that? To be given permission to stop multi-tasking, breathe, and get in touch with myself on a moment to moment basis felt like being let out of prison. Hallelujah!
For the next few years I dove headlong into living mind-FULLY. The practice transformed the person I'd known myself to be for the first 1/3 of my life. It restored my health, renewed my faith in life, and I became a much better person and mother.
The full circle part of this story? In 1998 when I wrote my first book, Coming Home to Ourselves (the result of 4 years of mindfulness practice), I geared it towards young mothers—because I was still one myself—and I have always written and taught about what I've most recently learned.
So here I am, at 60, back in the circle with young mothers and loving it, serving as mentor and guide. I'm pretty sure there are some lives that need "saving" like mine—or at least sanity restored. Motherhood is the most difficult job in the world. Even though my kids are older (23, 29 and 31) parenting is still the most challenging work I've ever done. And also the most fulfilling.
Given any role to play in life, Mindful Mommy would be my first choice. I love being a mother and if I had to pick one thing to be written on my tombstone at the end of my days, it would reflect this. My hope is that it would read, "She loved her children with her whole heart."
Undoubtedly, it was the practice of mindfulness that taught me how ...
My new book, The Mindful Mommy's Back-to-School Survival Guide is now available for pre-order. 12 SOS (Serenity Over Stress) Strategies to help you hold onto your sanity at this most challenging time of year, and 12 SOS Strategies for kids that foster fun and mindfulness. Breath by breath, you'll grow in calm, clarity and wisdom together! Pre-order your digital book today and receive 3 outstanding FREE Gifts. Here's how.
Everything we need to know for life is right here.
All the divine revelations we may travel far and wide to seek
are right here, just outside the window.
The wisdom of the ages
lies in the sage advice offered by nature.
All the heavenly wisdom we need can be found
in the bounty of this Sacred Universe.
Open your eyes, ears, and heart.
Immerse yourself in the beauty that surrounds you.
Listen and it will teach you.*
*Excerpted from Awakening the Spirit Within
One of my favorite spiritual practices is to connect with nature to plug into my sacred knowing. Grab a pen and paper and I will show you how to do this.
Take yourself out into the natural world—a wooded path, beside a stream or at the shore's edge—or simply sit beneath a tree.
Calm and center yourself. Feel your body in this wonderful place. Be fully in your body, aware of your breath, aware of all your senses. Listen intently. Look deeply.
And when you are suitably relaxed and connected, select a specific something (a bird, a tree, a flower) to be the purveyor of guidance.
Focusing on your choice, connect yourself with it through breath and heartfulness. Then ask it a question:
What would you like me to know right now?
And wait for the answer to come. It will.
Record the answer in your journal and then relax into the process of receiving and writing, allowing yourself to receive more insights and to scribe them.
When you are done scribing, sit back, rest into what has been revealed to you. Know that you have been given good guidance. Give thanks for what you have received.
Nature's bounty extends to its willingness to serve as a guide for out soul ...
By now you know what an evangelist I am about self-compassion and compassion.
The new issue of my online magazine/community, "Meditate Like A Girl," gave me a wonderful opportunity to share one of my most poignant encounters with self-compassion.
I haven't written much about this episode of my life until now. Truthfully, in the early days, it felt like a source of embarrassment. How could someone who teaches about mindfulness and good self-care not practice what they preach?
What I've come to understand is that "having a problem" is not a sign of failure. It is an invitation from the Universe—indeed, from our wise self—to go deeper.
To peel back another layer of ego self and delusion.
To let go of what causes suffering.
To embrace new practices that allow self-healing.
To continue to give birth to ourself over and over again.
I decided to write about my own struggle with self-compassion (circa 2008) as the subject of my July Editorial at MLAG.
Here is the link to read it: "How Self-Compassion Saved My Life."
I hope it speaks to you, nudges you too into greater self-compassion, for, as the Buddha taught, "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete."
With metta (loving-kindness),
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are: beings of unshakeable peace, boundless compassion, and deep joy.