If you’re a military spouse, you already know how challenging life can be. And if you’re a mother, your primary focus is usually your children’s well-being: are they doing well in school, are they participating in the right activities… are they getting enough social interaction? The checklist for your children is endless, however, have you stopped to check in on yourself?
How are you doing? Are you feeling frazzled, frenetic or just plain frustrated? Much has been made about making sure women have fun time away from home, a girl’s night out for example, and those are entertaining and have their purpose… but how about time to look inward? How are you doing mentally, emotionally and spiritually? There are activities you can participate in that will help keep you calm, grounded and balanced.
Have you tried taking a Yoga class? Most people assume yoga is about wearing skin-tight pants, stretching and saying namaste to your pals. It is not. Yoga is actually an ancient practice with roots in ancient Egypt and India. It was a daily practice participated in by everyone from parents and children, to royalty and everyday citizens. Yoga was and still is a life philosophy, not just another trendy exercise class to take like Pilates or Zumba (though those are fun ways to stay fit).
In some cases, Yoga can be a complementary therapy for a diverse list of health concerns. If you find Yoga classes that offer the discipline in its true spirit, one that helps the student reach spiritual and meditative goals, not just physical fitness goals, you will receive both emotional, mental and spiritual benefits.
If you’re living a fast-paced lifestyle with all of your energies focused outward, taking a few weekly yoga classes will help you to stay calm, inner-focused and positive, something from which your husband, your children and yourself can all benefit. Let’s face it, as the mother and wife of the family, many times you are what grounds the family unit, you are the center – and if you’re off-kilter, so is the entire household. You owe it to yourself and your family that you love so much, to make sure that you are living a balanced life.
Meditation is another way to assist in your goals to be a calm, positive beacon of light for your family. The word meditation brings to mind both silly and serious images, however, meditation is a serious tool that the military, corporate America and schools are now using to achieve goals, whether it be overcoming PTSD, de-stressing overworked executives or improving hyperactive children’s abilities focus and study. Meditation is a practice you can also use to better yourself.
So what, exactly is meditation? Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. Meditating is deceptively simple and is a means to erase all of the negative images and thoughts your mind is programmed with on a daily basis.
There are many different ways to learn how to meditate. You can read books on the subject, you can watch YouTube videos or you can purchase audiobooks or subscriptions to mindful-themed websites like Head Space and Oprah and Deepak’s Master Meditation Trilogy . Learning how to meditate,however, should not be cost-prohibitive.
Meditation can be as easy as sitting in a dark, quiet room, closing your eyes and counting your breaths. However, if your mind will not stop racing and you can’t quiet your thoughts, you can also try listening to a brainwave entrainment track. Just sit in a quiet, dark space, plug in your headphones and listen.
Make sure to focus on deep breathing, try to blank out your mind and think of nothing. That sounds super-easy, thinking of nothing but when you actually try it, if you’re not in the practice of doing so, forcing yourself to think about nothing can be challenging. And yet, this is what the human mind needs daily for optimal efficiency.
When your eyes are closed and a thought floats into your awareness, simply acknowledge the thought and allow it to float away like a cloud. Do not get upset, this is your place of happiness and positivity.
Lastly, there is Tai Chi and Qigong. As a parent, you’ve probably enrolled your child into dance class or recreational sports. Have you considered doing the same for yourself? Unless you are already familiar with the martial arts, taking a new class as an adult can seem daunting. However, taking Tai Chi or Qijong, which are both ancient Chinese martial arts with therapeutic value could be advantageous. Tai Chi is often referred to as moving meditation. While there is a martial art studio in the area teaching Tai Chi, there is no place currently to take Qijong. Fortunately, you can find many great videos on YouTube to help you out.
The benefits of Tai Chi are similar to those associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise:
- Improves physical condition, muscle strength, coordination and flexibility
- Improves balance and decrease the risk of falls, especially in elderly people
- Eases pain and stiffness in joints
- Improves sleep
- Improves overall wellness
Medical studies has proven that Tai Chi has positive effects on:
- Bone loss in postmenopausal women
- Cancer survivors
- Depression in elderly patients
- Fibromyalgia symptoms, such as muscle pain, fatigue and insomnia
- Osteoarthritis of the knee
- Patients with chronic heart failure
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition to the mind, body and soul benefits, this martial art is a great way for those new to exercising, new moms easing back into exercise or those recovering from injury to get fit.
It’s about time you focused on your well-being. Whether you practice yoga, meditation, Tai Chi or all three, make the balance of your mind, body and soul a priority. We don’t often think about how we can benefit from breathing exercises and just stilling our mind, but the benefits can be dramatic. You will be better for it and your husband and children will appreciate it.