I believe that all working women, working mothers, should have a support group or group of friends with whom she can share experiences, seek advice, vent without judgement and just be herself. I am lucky to have that group in my life and even luckier to have my friend Mary, who is a licensed professional counselor, be a part of it. I am a busy body for everybody and Mary, excuse me, Dr. Whitfield-Williams, is always telling me to take care of myself. I just look at her and nod and say, “Of course, of course…its about three bullet points down on my to-do list.” It’s easier said then done – am I right? She then kindly informed me that it was important and I didn’t have to stop my life or spend any ridiculous amounts of money to take care of myself. She recommended that I try mindfulness. Low cost , not time consuming and beneficial to my well being – Why Not? But first, I had a few questions for the Dr:
Women tend to have many relationships- work wise, socially, with children and partners etc., but we are not typically conditioned to notice how we “show up” in these relationships. Already they can be stressful, but how do we feel when we walk away from the conversation? What impact are we having on the other person? Have we paid attention to their non- verbals? Do we feel drained? Energized? So with the many roles we juggle, mindfulness pushes us to be more aware of the impact- whether positive, negative or neutral. This is very different from just checking off items on the to-do list.
Essentially it all about practicing being in the moment…like slowing to notice feelings, the way you breath, your bodies reaction, a sensation or perhaps even smells. A basic beginning step is to focus on your breathing…take deep breaths in and notice your body afterwards and how it feels. But the key is to sit with it- try about 5 mins- even if you are laying down, then also notice how the pillow feels to you, your comforter or sheets. This really can change the momentum of your day just these 5 mins in the morning.
You could meditate and center/anchor yourself to do this- but you also could practice within daily tasks such as taking a shower- but this time notice the smell of your shampoo or bath wash…linger in the smell, notice how the water feels to your skin, how does the rug feel when you step on it while leaving the shower? What’s the texture like, how does it feel between your toes? Even driving! Notice the people walking, identify the cars around you, how does the steering wheel feel? Turn off the radio so you can “hear” what you are thinking. That’s right- you are noticing how things impact you, or your impact on it.
It has been around for ages, but in western society research has showed that those who practice have lower stress levels (and who doesn’t want lower stress right?). It has also shown than people tend to think more clearly perhaps because they prioritize what they give their energy to. I haven’t seen any dangerous risks from practicing so it’s definitely a great prescription for the busy woman or those on auto-pilot.
Alright, alright, maybe Mary, Dr. Whitfield-Williams, is on to something. Now that I know what mindfulness is, how to practice it and that it isn’t going to have me in pain or bleeding from my wallet – I’m in. I came across a book to encourage and guide my practice written by Tzivia Gover, Joy in Every Moment-Mindful Exercises and I can’t say enough nice things about it. The book is full of suggestions to be more mindful everywhere: at home, at work, on-the-go, in solitude, and so much more. It’s full of wonderful prose and encourages you to stop and think and be present. Gover “…invite(s) you to wake into the present moment where you can discover the gifts your life is already offering you – even when you’re too busy and distracted to notice.” I have been practicing being more mindful for about a month now and it has truly been a gift; a gift a working mother, a busy mother can use. Treat Yourself. Happy Mother’s Day.
For more information on mindfulness click here.
Dr. Whitfield-Williams has been practicing for 10 years as a Licensed Professional Counselor working with families, individuals and groups. She specializes in relationship issues and divorce/custody issues. She teaches at University of NC at Pembroke, is a military contractor, and operates her private practice in Fayetteville, NC. She is also a trained E-counselor providing counseling services to service members and their families across the world. Learn more about her practice at www.livewellcounselor.com.