Mindful Mama: The Places that Scare Me

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival hosted by hosted by Kelly of Becoming Crunchy and Zoie of TouchstoneZ. Participants are writing posts about what mindfulness mean to them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Mindfulness: The Places the Scare Me

Mindfulness: The Places the Scare Me

The Places that Scare Me

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.
~Nelson Mandela

There are parts of me I don’t like. There are parts of me I feel ashamed of and want to hide. Whenever I touch those spaces, I want to run away from them. I squirm in discomfort anytime I’m made to confront the places that scare me.

The corridors of my mind that I inhabit have corners I cannot turn and doors I have to keep locked if I’m to avoid these feelings. Sometimes the darkness escapes its special rooms and chases me until I can get on the other side of a thick enough door.

But, the longer I do this, the more trapped I become. Those dark beasts control more and more while I become the prisoner.

I feel that I spent most of my life learning to run away from feelings. I hid from things that made me uncomfortable while at the same time I have the tendency to poke them a bit. Yoga teacher training helped me begin to notice this. Having kids forced me to look at those areas on an almost continual basis, but the mind is adept at finding new ways to hide away.

It wasn’t until I admitted to having postpartum depression for the second time that I simply stopped struggling. It really was like transition in birth. I came across new territory and for the love of my children; I surrendered and stepped into the flow of grace.

Instead of struggling, fighting, and running away, I decided to just be with the feelings. If judgment arose, I would be with that, too. When judgment about judgment about having judgment arose, I would be with that, too. It’s slow, laborious, and painful. It’s also liberating.

This is what mindfulness means to me.

A drop of water frozen by flash

Image via Wikipedia

It means being fully present in the moment. It means fully accepting everything that arises-even the dark parts that scare me. It means giving lovingkindness to myself and others.

It means staying when I want to turn away. It means nurturing when I want to fight. It means holding on when I would let it all burn.

It means breathing through moments even when I think I won’t make it. It means allowing joy to arise even when I think I don’t deserve it.

Mindfulness can look like nothing. It can be a pause in activity for the blink of an eye. It can look like deep cleansing breaths. It can mean a timeout for me to get my bearings.

Dedicating single breaths, moments, hours, and sometimes entire days of outwardly appearing non-productiveness to this task has made me a better mother, wife, and person. I’m less likely to react. When I do react, I notice much faster and can take steps to repair any harm I have caused.

Gentle parenting is mindfulness is being fully alive is loving everyone is seeing that all of us are the same.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
~Nelson Mandela

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Mindful Mama Blog CarnivalVisit the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

29 thoughts on “Mindful Mama: The Places that Scare Me

  1. Pingback: How Meditation Makes Me a More Mindful Mother Hybrid Rasta Mama

  2. I really enjoyed this post. After my yoga teacher training I began to notice real changes in the way I treated myself. I became more kind and compassionate with myself and my “stuff”. Instead of fighting and “fixing” everything, I began to sit with it. Now I can better acknowledge where I am and what I’m going through, and more often than not I’m then able to accept where I am without the need to judge or fix. This has been very empowering for me, and it allows me to see where change can come and where it should simply be left alone. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for this comment, TPPP. Your words are beautiful. The awakening after TT is, well, it can be as big a transition as a birth or a death. All that physical work to make way for the mental work to make way for the emotional work to make way for the spiritual work. That’s Yoga!!

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  4. It wasn’t until I admitted to having postpartum depression for the second time that I simply stopped struggling.

    Wow. Amazing how just letting in the feelings can transform them — and how much more painful it is to keep them shut out.

    I’ve actually been keeping a list of sources of anxiety — there are many in my life these days. My original intention was to help myself keep track of what needs my care, but I’ve found that simply the act of making the list is so helpful. By naming the sources of my anxiety, they become just a bit smaller — things I can work with, instead of terrifying Boogie Men.

    Have you read Pema Chödrön’s book, The Places that Scare You?

  5. This post just, plain makes me feel good. It is so helpful to have someone else tell me it’s OK to feel the emotions I feel and to be in the moment. It doesn’t mean that I have to act on them, but allowing myself to fully realize what I’m feeling will give me the knowledge I need to deal appropriately, rather then just stuffing it all back in and hoping it won’t rear its ugly head. Thank you for permission to acknowledge myself! LOL

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  7. The language of this post deeply resonated with me. I have had this post open in a tab on my laptop for days now, but haven’t managed to get through it and think on it (until now). I have been learning so much about mindfulness over the last year, more than ever. I think there are those times, as you mentioned, that spark something. A turn toward or away, a new perspective on an old problem, a realization of something the subconscious long knew and hid from us. Love this post.

  8. This is such a beautiful post, Zoie. Your descriptions of what it feels like to avoid the parts of ourselves that we don’t like and the feelings we don’t want to touch really hit home with me. I can remember feeling like that and remember all too well how I avoided certain feelings for a long time. I’m so glad you are now embracing all of you fully. It must feel like such relief.

    Thanks for hosting this wonderful carnival, and thank you also for linking up at Green & Natural Mamas Thursday!

  9. Lovely, Zoie. I am glad I am reading this now. It is true. Very true. Thank you for touching, being with the dark places because as you do – you open the space for others to also. That is healing beyond measure. Glad to know you. :)

  10. Another outstanding post from one of the most open, raw, uninhibited bloggers I know. Your post resonated with me deeply.

    “It means being fully present in the moment. It means fully accepting everything that arises-even the dark parts that scare me. It means giving lovingkindness to myself and others.

    It means staying when I want to turn away. It means nurturing when I want to fight. It means holding on when I would let it all burn.”

    Boy did these lines hit home with me. Honest, simple, yet complex and intricate.

    Your words are inspiring, your post brilliant. Thank you!

  11. Your account of surrendering the struggle is so powerful. I am really dealing with this right now, though I guess it’s always a new surrendering.

    Thanks for sharing your journey so articulately, and for hosting this Carnival. A wonderful collection I’m glad to be part of!

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  13. Like you, I grew up in an environment where it was not safe to have feelings. Any feelings. Even joy. In fact, positve emotions were viewed as suspect and dangerous and immoral. Suppressing all of my emotions became a way of life.

    But isn’t it amazing how we can discover our authentic selves and celebrate all of it? Even the ugly, scary parts? And isn’t it even more amazing how I can celebrate you in all your raw honesty, and you can celebrate me?

    Women. Mothers. Lovers.
    We exist inside and outside of ourselves.
    This sharing of ourselves through our blogs and Carnivals has become such an important part of my life–it feeds my soul and brings my heart to peace.

    Thankyou for sharing yourself in this post and for hosting this carnival again.
    Much love to you and yours.

  14. I’ve been working through some difficult things lately, too, Zoie. The way you describe your avoidance and fear of facing those feelings really rings true to me. I think you’ve really got it right though: it’s about being with yourself through all of that, and just accepting the path (little by little) as it presents itself to you. Thank you for this reminder to be more gentle with myself on this journey, no matter how difficult it gets. Namaste. <3

  15. Even though I haven’t “known” you long, I feel like I can still say it seems like you have come a very long way to become the wonderful, awesome, mindful mama that you are today. I thank you again for birthing this carnival and for sharing, so openly, all of what you have gone through and continue to battle in your quest for absolute mindfulness.

  16. Beautiful post Zoie.

    I’m learning more and more about how much mindfulness can take place so often throughout the day…in the tiniest moment…the blink of an eye. I’ve loved learning that lesson and find it so freeing…

    You are an amazing inspiration in learning to acknowledge and allow those feelings…I’ve gained much from your sharing and so appreciate it. Thank you for letting me be part of your journey… :)

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  19. I just read the last 5 paragraphs over and over. You are really good at expressing these things.
    I didn’t manage to contribute to this carnival, but look forward to reading through it.

  20. Wow, I really admire you. I’m sitting her nodding my way through your words, knowing there is such profound wisdom in there yet I still find myself running away. Kudos to you mama for embracing this in your life and for finding the stillness. I’m totally inspired by you.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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