London is hectic and noisy and a couple of years ago it really started to affect me. I was going through some stressful times back then, I was battling with infertility and eventually diagnosed with endometriosis. I was looking for ways to calm and ground myself. I took up running, yoga, and concentrated on blogging/writing about my thoughts, but also meditation and I started figuring out what mindfulness was. And who helped me the most? Our cat!
Every evening after returning home from work he would be waiting for me by the door and together we would run to our bedroom, he’d curl up next to me on our bed and start kneading and purring. Sometimes I’d still have my coat on because there just wasn’t enough time to put my things away, he was all over me showing how much he’d missed me. For the next 10 minutes or so there was nothing else but his purring and my breathing. I’d forget about the uncomfortable sweaty tube commute or a stressful day at work.
So, to me, mindfulness means simply to returning and staying in the present moment and focusing on my current thoughts, feelings and sensations, and our cat forces me to slow down and pay attention to here and now. When things were a bit mental with the newborn, whether she refused to nap or just cried, I wished I could be alone with Lucius. Peace and calm. I do get that a lot more these days thankfully!
But now, that our half Persian, half British Shorthair kitty Lucius isn’t a kitten anymore (three years old in December), he’s not quite as needy or cuddly. He likes to keep his distance but when he does jump up onto my lap or next to me on the couch for some cuddles, I stop everything and just pay attention to his silky smooth fur, his purring and take a moment for myself.
This is how I try to be present these days:
- Concentrate on one thing at a time. Multitasking isn’t actually so great, yet in the workplace it seems to be that if you’re not doing more than one thing at a time, you’re not working hard enough. With the baby, however, I started doing it less and less. Yes, I was mindlessly scrolling through my phone while breastfeeding but as life with her got more interesting than just burping and nappy changing I started appreciating the little moments and paying more attention to everything she did rather than rush through the day trying to get everything done.
- Do nothing. My favourite thing some days! Here’s a good article about it. I do like to pace myself, I know when I’m most productive and I’m a fan of breaks. At work I would just get up and walk around for a bit. With the baby I try to take breaks when she sleeps but even when she plays I lie next to her on the floor and watch her and do nothing. Just smile and look at her.
- Sleep more. Sleep is so overrated said no one ever! I wish I had napped more pre-baby 🙂 . Although she’s a brilliant napper and when I really do need a rest I lie down myself, stroke the cat who normally naps on our bed during the day, and do nothing. If I fall asleep it’s a bonus.
In the middle of writing this Lucius jumped onto my lap and I obviously stopped typing and took a break. Never move when a cat sits on you!