No, thank you, meditation is not for me. I am too busy. I just can’t find the time. I can’t get my mind to shut down. I can’t sit still and do nothing, even for 5 minutes.
Sound familiar? Well, you are not alone. And I’ll let you in on a secret: I am one of those people. Yep. I am a yoga teacher, but meditation is hard for me. My mind works at 150km per hour and tends to go off in all directions at once, doing its own thing: imagining future events, replaying scenes of past conversations, writing imaginary to-do-lists, you get the jist. And yet, this is precisely why I need to meditate.
If you are pregnant, all of this multiplies, our “monkey mind” goes crazy. We are dealing with all sorts of changes in our bodies, we think about birth, about what it will be like as a parent, about the trillion things that need to be done before our child’s arrival into this world. Perhaps we juggle pregnancy and work. Or we have a toddler to take care of.
Sometimes we are so busy DOING things that we forget about BEING pregnant.
And this is where meditation comes in. Practicing meditation during pregnancy has shown to have incredible results in improving women’s emotional and physical wellbeing. It lowers stress and anxiety, improves baby’s health and reduces the risk of postpartum mood disorders.
The good news is: to meditate you don’t have to sit still for hours, with your legs crossed like the Buddha figurines (you wouldn’t want to do that anyway with a pregnancy belly). Meditation comes in many shapes and forms. Choose the one that corresponds to your lifestyle, the one you can most easily accommodate.
Here are 3 meditation techniques which allow you to push the “pause” button, take time for yourself, and focus your attention on your body and your baby. And what’s best: each one only takes a few minutes to practice.
Calm body and mind with cardiac coherence
3 times a day, 6 breaths per minutes, for 5 minutes (365): this simple breathing-based relaxation technique is for all you busy bees out there, pregnant or not. Regular deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which slows down the heart rate, calms body and mind, and reduces stress and anxiety. This is the video I like to use for a guided practice (I usually listen to the audio with my eyes closed).
There are countless other videos out there, just search for “cardiac coherence” on YouTube and choose the one you like.
Be in the present moment through mindful walking
This technique is for you if you prefer to move rather than sit down with your eyes closed. Since going for walks is a great way to stay active during pregnancy, it can easily be integrated into your daily routine. Walk at a slow pace and observe, without judgement, what your five senses (feel, see, hear, smell, taste) can perceive. What you can see – the colours of the trees in the park, the blue sky? What you can hear – the noise of children playing, dogs barking, the traffic? Feel your body, your feet touching the ground as you walk, the weight of your belly, perhaps your tense shoulders. What can you smell? What can you taste? This is a great way to connect with your body and be in the present moment. You can also plug in earphones and listen to instructions, such as these.
Take mini baby mindfulness breaks
This technique is as simple as it is effective, and was one of my favorites during pregnancy. Every time you feel your baby kicking or moving, pause! No matter what you are in the midst of doing, just stop. Take a deep breath and send an acknowledging thought to your baby, along the lines of I hear you, I feel you, I know you are there, I look forward to meeting you soon. It literally takes a few seconds, it’s easy to make it a habit, and it helped me immensely to reconnect with my baby and my pregnant body during stressful periods.