My journey with meditation and mindfulness started when Olivia wouldn’t sleep. At 18 months old she would be bouncing off the walls at 9/10pm at night, she wasn’t napping well at all either. I was suffering with severe sleep deprivation…the walking dead springs to mind, the mombie…I knew it wasn’t good for my mental wellbeing but neither was it any good for her. Anyway I came across a wonderful lady who helped me immensely with getting a really good sleep routine in place and one that we still use today. Anyway that it is a whole blog series in itself…but as part of the work I did with Jennie she introduced me to meditation.
Now I had never really done meditation, probably thought it was a load of rubbish, but I persevered a few times. When you’re sleep deprived you will try anything right!? Anyway it really helped me. I saw the benefits of it almost immediately. Calmer, more relaxed, able to drift to sleep better, it was a way to release emotions, a way to reset my mind, to feel refreshed, motivated…I mean the list is endless. Later on when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue the benefits for that were incredible and I would say were absolutely key to my recovery.
So a bit of background on meditation and mindfulness…much like yoga, mindfulness and meditation has been around for thousands of years, it is ancient and spiritual. Its purpose in ancient times, was to focus on spiritual growth and transcend emotions to bring about a sense of calm and be in a present state. It is now realigned to match a modern society and is seen as a way to reduce stress and improve healthy living.
What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation? Meditation is largely a term for the practice of reaching the ultimate consciousness and concentration, to acknowledge the mind and in a way regulate your own thoughts. It includes many practices such as yoga, silence, and of course mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present, such as focusing on something you do every day such as taking a shower, and noticing the sensations of the water washing over your body, the smell of the shower gel, the noise the water makes on your body. There are activities that can be considered mindful especially if you do them without interruption or TV, such as crochet, sewing, knitting, drawing, walking, colouring, gardening etc etc. Being mindful is often practised in meditation, for example while focusing on your breath. Following your breath is a great way to remain in the present moment.
There are many ways in which you can be ‘taught’ to practice meditation and mindfulness. For me and a lot of teachers these days it actually doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it so long as you feel you benefit from it. For me the key components are relaxation, disconnect from the world outside us, connection to ourselves and being present. It doesn’t matter how you sit (or lie, although there are some additional benefits to sitting), it doesn’t matter whether you choose guided meditations, calm music or silence. Make sure you are somewhere you can’t be disturbed, notifications turned off on phones, technical equipment off, warmth, low light or darkness, and you’re away!
So in terms of grief how will it help? Well firstly and possibly most importantly, it will help you reconnect to yourself. And this is really important. Losing a baby is traumatic and therefore life changing. The amount of bereaved parents who tell me they don’t know who they are anymore. Everything they valued before the loss has changed completely. All the dreams and hopes they had for their life as a parent has gone. So it’s no surprise that we don’t know who we are anymore. I know this affected me dramatically. Meditation and mindfulness practice are great ways to reconnect.
Often with trauma come’s anxiety, worry and stress, after all we now know how precious life is. How it can be taken away in the blink of an eye. When we are anxious or worried cortisol is released and we end up in fight or flight mode. If we remain in this state for too long it can lead to physical and emotional health issues. Meditation and mindfulness reduces stress, it allows our body to reset and bring about calm. It reduces the amount of cortisol being produced and lowers blood pressure and other associated health issues that arise from stress.
And so the benefits of reducing stress, reconnecting to ourselves and being in a positive mind set help us as we move on to try to conceive, being pregnant again, going down the adoption route and having a baby or child here. We all know it is so important to be as calm as we can, so that we can manage day to day life. But we also want to remain in as positive a place as possible, so we have the best chance of surviving all the curve balls life throws at us. Life is demanding enough without added stress on top. And when you also have grief simmering away in the background it adds another layer.
As if you weren’t convinced by the benefits enough already, meditation and mindfulness also reduces ageing, increases your metabolism, increases your immunity and helps fight disease, reduces pain, improves sleep and improves concentration!!
With all this in mind I will be bringing you bespoke meditations in the very near future. The first of the services I am planning to offer. A chance to experience additional healing benefits from Reiki and crystal therapy whilst relaxing in a live meditation that is tailored to you and all you are feeling right in that moment. It will be done remotely so anyone anywhere can access the service from the comfort of their own home. A recording will also be available for you to listen to it again. The best way to keep in touch regarding service developments is to follow me on social media.
If you would like some support or a safe place to discuss being mindful in your grief or as a parent in pregnancy and parenthood after loss then come along to our closed Facebook group and I will offer you all the support I can.
Love and gentleness
If you have connected with this blog post and you would like some support yourself, you can follow me, Helen Grimshaw, on social media by clicking the links below