I’ve been a mindfulness teacher for a couple of years now. It is my absolute passion and it never fails to amaze me how much I continue to learn from the practice. As all these questions were spinning through my mind I thought what better time to really deepen my mindfulness practice then bringing a new being into the world!
As the early weeks of my pregnancy passed I began to see that I was really holding on. I became aware that I had this constant background fear: what if something goes wrong…what if I lose the baby….I began to notice I was wishing days away just trying to get through the next hurdles until the 12 week scan, a sigh of relief, 16 week appointment first time you hear baby heart beat…all ok another sigh of relief..and then back to wishing the days away to the 20 week scan…
One afternoon I was meditating and thought: hang on a minute! Can you see what’s happening here Carla-Jo?! Instead of being with each experience of pregnancy in a kind and non judgemental way, I found myself getting caught up in thoughts of anxiety and fear. It’s obviously natural to have these feelings during such a life changing time but it can be so easy to run away with them so they become unhelpful and end up causing you to feel stressed.
The wonderful thing about mindfulness practice is that it allows you to begin to see things clearly, you begin to see destructive thought patterns in your mind. I realised that all this holding on was creating tension in my body. It meant I wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy and by trying to wish the days away, constant date watching was making it feel like a drag! I took a deep breath and realised that I had to let go, to let be… and in that moment I felt my shoulders soften. I breathed a sigh of relief..I could be in the present with things as they are and that is enough.
I began to really bring awareness to destructive thought processes, noticing each thought as it arose, “this is fear, this is anxiety” and then meeting each thought with a sense of non-judgment and kindness, and gently letting them go one by one over and over again. As the weeks passed I became much better at letting things be. It’s important in mindfulness practice that we never push anything away, always acknowledge things as they arise, seeing them non-judgmentally and bringing a sense of kindness to ourselves throughout the process.
The thing is I have absolutely no control over what my body is doing with this pregnancy, so by learning to let go and let be I can just lean into and relax in the not knowing, and this, I felt, was the key to being mindful in pregnancy: we just don't know, and that it's ok to 'not know'. I often see the quote on social media ‘Relax nothing is in control’ and it always makes me chuckle! This is by no means an easy thing to do! But daily mindfulness practice truly helps.
In life we have no idea really what’s going to happen from day to day. Mindfulness practice gives us a choice, it enables us to be in the moment fully, with practice (usually a lot of practice!) we can rest in the beautiful space of awareness that we all have as human beings, and that space includes not knowing. Mindfulness practice gives us more resilience, we become more able to cope with the ups and downs of life.