The festive season can be fun, but can also be incredibly busy and stressful. Family get-togethers can be fraught with tension and sometimes it all gets a bit much. Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice which is very relevant for life today, especially at this time of year. It is a very simple concept. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. This increases awareness, clarity and acceptance of our present-moment reality.
Try this 3 minute mindfulness meditation:
My colleague Angie Cameron is a counsellor who uses mindfulness in her work. She is running a Mindfulness Based Living Course in central Edinburgh, starting in the spring. She also has a couple of FREE mindfulness taster sessions in February and March – click here for further details.
Here, Angie tells us a bit more about how mindfulness can be helpful when you are trying to conceive:
“Research shows that being less anxious and stressed can increase both men and women’s fertility. One way to try to decrease your anxiety and stress, and increase your fertility and chances of getting pregnant, is to practice mindfulness. Trying to conceive and having a healthy, successful pregnancy can be a struggle for some people, whether it’s naturally or through receiving fertility treatment. Both can be a very stressful, anxious and lonely time. The processes of ovulation and healthy sperm production depend on a complex balance of hormones and their interactions to be successful, and any disruption in these processes can hinder chances of conceiving.
Mindfulness can be a life changing experience that helps us train our minds within meditation. Through mindfulness we can develop and nurture our minds, so it can help us to step back from our feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations and behaviours. This allows us to observe them, without judgment, which helps us to make a choice on how we respond to situations, ourselves and others. Mindfulness entails being present in the moment, which is the ground out of which tranquillity arises, reduces stress and anxiety and therefore may increase your chance of conceiving and sustaining a healthy pregnancy.
The Mental Health Foundation reports that studies have shown that by practicing mindfulness, participants experienced up to 70% reduction in anxiety, an increase in disease-fighting antibodies which suggests improvements to the immune system, improved sleep, and reduction in feelings such as anger, tension and depression.
Mindfulness can be introduced to individuals or couples whilst they are receiving fertility counselling, where they are taken through a series of steps from explaining to them about mindfulness and understanding some of the process. People are then taken through different guided mindfulness practices and are encouraged to practice outwith their counselling sessions. They are also recommended other support resources such as websites and books on mindfulness and also to look at their overall life balance.
CASE STUDY – Mary 32 years old
After taking a while to get pregnant and then having a miscarriage, Mary was struggling to get pregnant again and anxious about sustaining a healthy pregnancy. She started fertility counselling sessions with Angie and began doing mindfulness meditations both in her fertility counselling sessions and at home. She was able to work through her loss and her difficult feelings and became much less anxious. She also became more relaxed about getting pregnant, had a more positive outlook, and within 5 months she became pregnant. Mary is now a proud mummy to a baby girl.”
Contact Angie Cameron on 0845 03456 44 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about counselling or mindfulness training.
If you would like to collaborate with a guest blog, please get in touch by email. I'm interested in articles about fertility, pregnancy, parenthood, complementary therapies, book or product reviews, local practitioners or classes, and general health and well-being. My horizons are pretty broad, so if you have something you'd like to write about, please do!