Meditation can be a scary concept: how do you do it? and how can I fit it into my life anyway? Here, mama of three Kate Bowern shares how a simple three minute meditation was the catalyst for massive change in her life.
“I’ve never really been someone to live in the moment.
Life has always been so fast: I’ve moved from Victoria to Queensland to America, then back to Victoria, then Queensland. But since being a mum, I’ve realised that living in the present moment – which I know is so cliché – is what this motherhood journey is really all about. It’s about being present, and enjoying the little things.
My Dad is a firefighter, and then I married a firefighter too, and that has had a really big impact on me. There are not many weeks that my husband doesn’t come home and something terrible has happened, and if it’s not a death, it’s still been a serious accident where their lives have changed forever. And so while I know so many people just wish the tough bits of life away, I want things to slow down. I want to enjoy the little moments, because they don’t last. And I don’t mean as in, ‘Because they grow up fast,’ I mean because anything can happen at any time. I’ve seen a lot of tragedy over the years, and it’s made me appreciate the little things. But that’s something I’ve really had to learn how to do.
Isolation and Darkness
My first year of mamahood was this beautiful bubble. I remember thinking that nothing else mattered in this world. I remember when she was born thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, there are cars just going to work today, and they’re going on with life like it’s normal, and I’ve had a baby! Does anyone not care?’ And my first year was an absolute beautiful bubble. I was very lucky.
Then, after the first year, she started to not sleep. And when she was one year old, we moved away from all our family, and all our friends, and moved to North Queensland for my husband’s job. Then we got pregnant with our second child, and hormones kicked in, and then life just went upside down and it was no longer my bubble. I was depressed, and even though I loved my children more than anything in the world, I was just so lost. The kids were honestly the only thing that kept me going. If it wasn’t for looking after the babies each day, I don’t know what would have happened, because I was not in a good place.
I didn’t have family and friends close by. I was meeting people slowly, but it was a very transient town we lived in, because it was a mining town. So, people would come and go all the time – so you’d make a friend, and then two months later they’d go, because their husband was working somewhere else. So, that was hard, and that’s when I got desperate. I wasn’t really someone that used the computer a lot, but I did get online, and start looking for other mums that were feeling like this. And I came across Seek, Act, Love, [Amy’s first blog], and immediately, like the snap of a finger, it just clicked. It was the first time since I’d had kids that I’d read something that resonated so deep down that it was just mind-blowing. I read everything that I could find! It was something I went to every day, and then of course, that turned into Happy Mama. So, with that, I never left!
A way out
When your very first program started, for me, it was an absolute must. I knew there were no ifs and buts about it, I’m doing your Reconnect program. We didn’t have much money at the time, but I knew I just had to make it work.
I thought you were crazy when I first heard you say, ‘You’ve got to put yourself first, mama,’ and I used to be, like, ‘We can’t!’ And I would write, in the little chat group, ‘We can’t put ourselves first.’ Like, I would always put my children first. And you would write back to me, and other people would write back, and you would explain why. But it obviously wasn’t clicking for me, because I just couldn’t see how I could put myself first yet.
And then, I started meditating.
The three-minute meditation has been one of the biggest things that saved my life. Knowing I could do it at any time, multiple times a day, that has saved me in the last six years. It’s just been amazing. I’ve done that three-minute meditation in every room in the house, even in the toilet when I’ve had to get away from the kids. I’ve sat in the car numerous times, whether it’s been in shopping centres, when I’ve gone out to do the shop. Any time when I felt like I needed to pull myself together, I’ve thrown that meditation on, and listened to it. I’ve been crying in the car and then suddenly remember it, and pulled it back out. I don’t know how you were able to get so much into that three minutes, but you finish it feeling like a different person. So, that, for me, was a massive thing.
And then, I remember going out for my birthday, and my husband kept the two kids for the first time and I went out without the kids, with my mum, to the yacht club for lunch. And this just never happened. I was probably 500m from my house, and I had the phone sitting up on the table the whole time, in case anything went wrong with the kids, but I did it. I had time away and did something for myself, and I had the best lunch with my mum ever, and I went back after that lunch a different person. I remember having the lightbulb go off in my head, and thinking, ‘This is what Amy is talking about!’
And that was it! It took years for me to get to where I am now, but from that moment on, I’d start doing little things on my own. It wasn’t always necessarily leaving the house – it might have even just been going and having a bath, and leaving the kids with my husband, but usually I’d be worried about, ‘What if the baby needed a breastfeed when I’m in the bath?’ I was ridiculously over the top about it all, but that’s just how I was as a mum. But now, I’ve obviously got to the point where doing these little things is what makes a difference.
Making meditation work
Meditation and mindfulness is now such a big part of my life. When I sit down and play with the kids, I sit there and I really breathe in and be in the moment. I’ve taught the kids to do that too – I can see that they’re watching me, and they’ll go, ‘Mum, are you meditating?’ And I’ll be like, ‘I’m just sitting here, relaxing,’ and they know, because I’ve explained to them that you don’t have to sit there with your eyes closed.
It is a conscious effort every day to actually do those things.
Even when I have to do the housework, I now choose to do it in a mindful way. So, when I fold the washing, I actually kind of sit there and go, ‘Wow, in a few years’ time these little jumpsuits aren’t going to be this tiny,’ and that helps me come back to the moment.
Like everybody, I have days where I’m tired. I’m exhausted a lot of the time, because I’m still getting up every night to at least one kid. Whether it’s from nightmares, or whether we’ve had an accident, or whether we’re scared, or whether we’ve slept on our arm and it’s gone to sleep! There’s something every night I wake up for, so I’m tired pretty much all the time! And I used to be so hard on myself, which would make it worse for days afterwards.
But now, from doing the Reconnect program, and choosing to only follow people online and in my life who inspire me, I’m in such a good place. I’ve noticed when I stick with the meditations, when I have little self-care rituals like having my cup of tea when they’re busy, and try and drink the whole thing hot. When I have a bath, everything flows. Not things that are expensive, not things that I’ve got to go out of the home for, but things that I can do every single day.
I have my ‘tool kit’, and I know I am showing my kids how to do that too.
The final 40 Day Reconnect Program starts again on the 17th June. Using the three minute meditation as well as other tools and insights, this program has changed more than 500 lives. To join the program for the very last time, please read all the details here.
Kate Bowern is an Early Childhood Educator-trained mama of three who now balances home-shooling her children with her other ‘passion’ – helping parents navigate the overwhelming online world of healthy ideas for their kids. She has created a one-stop-website filled with healthy ideas for kids, including yoga DVDs for the little ones. Check it out at Healthy Fit Kids.