Wednesday, 11 July 2012


About five years ago, I participated in a ten-week course called Mindfulness, created by Dr.
Jon Kabat-Zinn. It was facilitated by a social worker who taught techniques to manage pain of any kind through mediation and breathing. This course explores ways to stay present in the moment, to use meditation and breathing techniques to bring you to a place in the present. In doing so, you can explore the reality of your pain in order to manage the day-to-day chaos we call life.

It was actually amazing. I learned a number of different ways to tackle stress, sleeplessness,
and physical pain, and I managed to let go of something that surprised me. Halfway through the course, I was starting to get serious about my meditation. I was able to get to a place of physical and mental balance — which I had never imagined I could do fully. I was able to focus. One evening our facilitator was leading us though a meditation dedicated to unpacking the messy. I was absolutely calm…and out of the blue I started to visualize a child, which was me, as a seven- or eight-year-old. I was watching my little self sitting in a corner crying, and I had an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I started to cry — tears ran down my face as I remained in a heavy state of meditation, while being completely present with my child self and my adult self watching on. When I awoke, I felt that a weight had been lifted. I had let go of something from my childhood that had been holding me back as an adult: loneliness.

When Lo came home from the hospital, all he did for a couple of weeks was eat and sleep.
There was very little crying, and if there was, my milk would soothe him right away. At about two months, Lo developed acid reflux. For any mother out there who has had to figure this one out, you know what I am talking about: the medical community will either push medication for the symptoms right away, or wait until the very last second to prescribe anything. Either option is hard for its own reasons.

Lo was in pain, and the breast was no longer cutting it. He would wake up crying and nothing would soothe him. For a first-time mother, this feeling of not being able to soothe your baby really takes a toll, and I began to feel like a failure.

The crying was getting to me, it was making me really anxious, and I was developing a real
sense of helplessness. I started to finally ask for help from my partner because I could not
take the crying. It was really bringing me down. As I walked away from Lo and listened to him
cry from a distance, I started to ask myself why the crying was bothering me so much — why
could I not listen to my son ask for help? What is it about his cry that puts me in a tailspin? At
that point, I broke down and started to cry myself. I started to feel like I was not cut out for this
mother thing — my biggest fear going into the journey in the first place. As I continued to cry,
I started to pay attention to the familiarity of this feeling. It was this raw feeling, the feeling of
life unravelling for a purpose (which I have experienced many times before). And yes — I pay attention to this stuff. Weird, I know! I had an overwhelming sense that I had been here before. At that point, I had a vision of sitting in meditation, and remembered the lonely feeling that I had revealed and shed many years ago…or so I thought.

Over the next couple of weeks, the crying did not seem so loud, and the middle of the night
became a time when Lo and I would listen to each other — or a podcast. Seriously, though, I
started to sing to him, and instead of crying he would listen and eventually fall asleep. At that
point, I no longer felt lonely — I was being a mother, trying to figure it out and remaining in the present.

Breathe in, breathe out.

-Gray Mama

Here are some links for information on Mindfulness:

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