Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Being allowed to love motherhood... and a yoga meditation to help us!

Thanks so much for all your comments and emails everyone. You keep me going. You also distract me when I should be studying, like right now. But I'm tired and have thoughts I just have to express. The good news is that my Khmer friend is breastfeeding after all!

I do not know if she is mixed feeding with the formula that her parents bought her. She did not answer that question and I did not want to push her. But her text said something along the lines of "We are so happy. We are breastfeeding successfully and will carry on". Hoorah! I'm so happy. Not just for the baby but for the mother.

We often think we are putting pressure on mothers when we advocate breastfeeding. I think we forget just how many mothers, who do not end up breastfeeding, really, really wanted to at the beginning, but did not succeed for lack of support, reassurance and lanolin sore nipple cream.

The Kundalini Yoga teachings say that the baby shares the mother's aura, or electromagnetic field, from birth until they are three years old. They specify that the mother and child should remain very close for the first 40 days outside the womb. This is not only to make the baby feel safe and secure. The modern pressures on new mothers are to get their life back, let their baby cry a little, allow the father to bond with a bottle, use a cot, get back to work... They all seem to be in favour of the mother, but I think they simply prohibit bonding, encourage resistance to what a mother's instinctive role is meant to be, and cause frustration, exhaustion, even post-natal depression.

All the mothers I know who have truly followed their instincts, who have stayed close to their babies through co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breastfeeding where and when either mother or child feels like it, are the happiest mothers I know. They have no conflicts, they are not trying to follow any prescribed method or hurry back to life as it was before. These are the women I hear using expressions like: "I feel like I have come home", or "I have found my purpose", or "I have found peace". I know a lot of mothers - surely this can't be a co-incidence. Mothering as nature intended, with the support and encouragement of our social network, is usually without any of the trauma that both mother and child so often seem to experience in western child-raising cultures. (Arrgh writing this reminds me why I wrote my book! To encourage mothers. I've lost faith in it but I must work on that one day. Hmm, I digress, sorry.)

So, having said all this I thought I would share a lovely moment I had with Jemima last week. It was just the usual morning Tuk Tuk ride back from school. But it was one of those moments when you want to give thanks to the universe for being alive. Jemima was on my lap cuddling me and telling me she loved me 'soooo much'. She was laughing and throwing her head about and her hair was blowing in the wind. I know that of all the memories I want to hold onto forever, this one will never fade. It's not corny to admit it. Being a mother is the most valuable gift I could have ever wished for. I want to live my life as mother in a way which ensures that, whatever happens to me, I will never, ever look back and regret not having spent enough time with my children, or cuddled them enough, smelt them enough, listened to them or looked at them. As I write this my sister is in England supporting the husband and children of her dear friend who is dying of breast cancer. We should live every moment as fully as we can and never take our blessings for granted.

I know, I can hear lots of stressed out mothers screaming at me already. So here are two things to appease you. One is simply that not all our school runs are so lovely. On Friday we walked to school and Jemima had to step over a huge dead rat. Today at exactly the same spot, though I had forgotten, she said: "Where's the rat?" We looked down and there was its skeleton, stinking in the heat of the sun. OK, not a such a great story but a little bit of description is always nice.

This one is much better. Also last week, we had one of those horrible evenings when everyone was crying, no one got to sleep on time and I was hot, bothered and at the end of my tether. I wanted to scream and shout and throw things in a way that only tired and hormonal mothers do. But, for a change, I did not. Instead I lit a candle, sat on the floor and looked through my meditation files from my course notes. Three minutes later I was calm, could be civil enough to help my children to sleep despite their protests and focused enough to recognise that I needed a bath and an early night. (A miracle for me as I am the world's worst late night phaffer. I never get to bed before 10:30, and that's on a good night). The result was so effective that even James was calm and receptive to my mood. He offered to let me sleep in the spare bed while he did Bella duty. I was asleep at 930, fed Bella once at 12 and slept on until morning. That is the best night's sleep I have had since she was born. Here is what I did:

It is called Meditation for Emotional Balance (Sunia Antar). You could look it up on the internet for a picture or more information before practicing it, or just follow my instructions and enjoy the benefits. It can take as little (no less) as three mins, and as many as eleven (no more).

Drink a glass of water. Water imbalance is often a cause of emotional discomfort or lack of focus.
Sit cross-legged with your arms crossed across the chest and hands placed under your armpits. As though you were hugging yourself. Keep your head straight and raise the shoulders right up to the ear lobes without cramping the neck. The action of pulling up the shoulders and tightly locking the entire upper area creates a solid brake to the four sides of the brain.
Breathe slowly and deeply. Long, slow and deep breathing gives us indirect control of our minds. This eliminates obnoxious behaviour and promotes a calm mind regardless of circumstances.

After three minutes of this healing meditation you will find that while the thoughts will still be there, the feelings will not. Every mother should know this as they and their children will benefit. Life is too short to keep on feeling negative, when allowing ourselves a few minutes of stillness can help us regain positivity and calm.

Sat Nam. Love, Peace and Light.


Kat said...


What a lovely post. I am so pleased to hear your friend had some success. This postcard of twins should remind us all of the damage formula can do.


Kat x

Georgie said...

i'll check this out no. Thanks kat!

Georgie said...

Hi Again, just checked it out. Now I am crying. How incredibly sad. How will she or her son ever get over that? Thanks for drawing my attention to it. Gxxx

Kasia said...

That is an incredibly sad picture. Should be posted everywhere especially in the third world where there doesn't appear to be any rules in regards to promoting formula!

As to the yoga. I have also found it makes me feel better and recommend it to everyone. I have been doing Power Yoga for exercise over the years and even 10 minutes a day makes a huge difference in how I feel. It even wakes me up when depleted by sleepless nights:)

Anonymous said...

Great news about your Khmer friend... and the meditation certainly works - have recommended it to all my Mummy friends here. Thanks for that.