Inspired by tabloid magazines (you know the ones- "Celebrities, just like us!"), we are featuring a series of local Vancouverites who incorporate meditation into their everyday. They aren't on the quest for enlightenment and they aren't lazing around- these are busy bodies who understand the importance of pressing pause every once in a while. The idea is- Heck, if they can do it, you can too.
Today, we feature Stephanie- a new mum & the facilitator behind our upcoming MOMENT Mamas classes.
1. How did you get into meditation?
“It’s meditation time!”, my mom used to yell. Really it was bedtime. Us three (extremely energetic) girls would scream in excitement, jump into bed, close our eyes and assume position.
I grew up in a household that meditates. I’m half Chinese and half East Indian. Born in Canada, my Asian roots very much permeated into our upbringing.
On the Chinese side, my mother and grandparents, “Oma” and “Opa”, came to Canada from Indonesia as refugees. When my Opa was no longer able to work as a medical doctor due to being a foreigner, he turned to alternative medicine and started his practice of healing the body through the mind. Adopting Buddhist and Hindu philosophies backed by scientific evidence, he firmly believed in the mind-body connection, teaching his patients how to heal physical disease through mental practice. Oma and Opa would host free meditation workshops, which eventually grew so large, they had to upgrade to a hotel conference room where up to 100 people would show- all still offered free of charge, out of their passion for making a difference for people’s lives. Their ‘meditation nights’ continued well into my Opa’s 90’s.
On the Indian side, my grandmother, “Ma”, raised myself and my sisters. Born in the early 1900’s in traditional, rural India, she was a devout Hindu. Meditation and prayer was a daily ritual and she devoted her life to serving her family. I know nobody more present, strong willed, and giving than my dear Ma. Not to mention her memory was impeccable. “Tell Michelle ‘Happy Birthday’” she said one day. I hadn’t seen Michelle in years, yet she remembered her birthday, that is the power of mindfulness.
To me, she was my Mahatma Gandhi, my Mother Theresa, my most favourite person in the world. She lived until the ripe age of 100. A century old. I completely attribute her longevity to her life-long practice of meditation which kept her sharp and healthy.
2. How do you think meditation affects your day to day experience (especially as a mum!)
As a new mom, you rarely get any moments of silence or alone time (joined at the hip .... or more like joined at the boob). If you do, it’s reserved for the basics: eating, sleeping, showering, cleaning. But meditation doesn’t need to look like sitting cross legged with your eyes closed in silence under the willow tree (although that would be magical). Mindfulness is exactly that, the practice of being conscious of what your mind is full of.
The transition to motherhood was harder than I thought. Being someone that’s always been very independent and ambitious, one day you were going for your dreams and goals, building a business, going to the gym at your leisure, getting groceries, all the big and regular stuff. Literally the next day you are bound to a 2-3 hour schedule of feeding this little being you just birthed, 24 hours around the clock. My mind became full of thoughts like “I can’t wait until my husband comes home so I can have a break”; or “He can go anywhere he wants, but I don’t have a choice. I’m trapped here with my baby”; or “I can’t wait until she can sit on her own so I don’t have to carry her all the time”. I don’t resent my baby, it’s not her fault, she’s just a baby. However all these thoughts do have an impact on her, whether I intend it or not.
I realized that this pattern was NOT working. So I started a mindfulness practice, a way to meditate on the go, where I catch these negative thoughts or complaints, and swap them with a positive. I’ve challenged myself to shift my mindset by acknowledging three things I’m grateful for every day for 45 days. I started an insta account to be “accountable” and encourage my mama friends to join in (@allthemamafeels #45goodvibes). Before I couldn’t wait to “offload” baby onto my husband, now I savour the moments cuddling her and actually don't want to let go. There has been a massive change in my attitude and ability to just enjoy this special and fleeting time with my baby. This is a form of meditation, training your mind to be full of thoughts that create happiness and ease rather than depression or resentment. The brilliant thing is that these new empowering thoughts, when practiced regularly, actually build new neurological pathways in your brain. Meditation is like going to the gym, but for your mind.
3. What is your favourite way to meditate these days (fav time, place, etc.)
Fav time: when I wake up and go to sleep
Place: Rocking chair while I’m admiring my baby in my arms
4. Typical run-thru of a day
- Wake up: morning cuddles, giggles and play - rather than getting caught up in the AM rush, I want her days to start out knowing she is loved and cared for // NURSE
- Bath time with baby (so I can sort of shower with her)
- Pop homemade “sandy balls” in my mouth (not what you are thinking... they are protein bites my amazing friend introduced to me! So good for moms that have no time or hands to prepare a meal)
- Stroller fitness - gets me out of the house, active, and connecting with other moms while babe has morning nap on the go // NURSE
- Lunch at my parents
- My dad meditates with baby for afternoonnap // NURSE
- Home with hubby for dinner (he cooks and cleans, THANK GOD!!)
- Babe’s evening nap
- Bedtime routine: PJ’s, story time, rock babe to sleep // NURSE
- Acknowledge my husband, myself and my baby for something I’m grateful for (he also does the same) <-- THIS has been a game changer in strengthening our relationship and new dynamic as a family unit
- Do my daily #45goodvibes insta post
- Sleep // NURSE x 3 until morning !