How to Induce Labor Naturally, and Why You (Probably) Shouldn’t

by Alexandra Puppelo, M.A.

One of the biggest concerns students of mine have is how to avoid a medical induction.

expectant lady holding pen marking calendar

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Those who understand the normalcy of birth and the benefits of limiting interventions know that induction can disrupt even the best of birth plans.

In general, the safest approach for mom and baby is to wait for labor to happen spontaneously. But what if you and your provider agree that a medical induction is what is best for you and your baby(ies)? If induction is already on the table, you may want to try getting things started on your own to avoid the unpleasant medications and side effects of medically induced and managed labor. If you are at term and facing a medical induction, here are some things to try first (with your provider’s all-clear).

  • Eat dates (the fruit). If you know that you are likely to be induced, or if you just want to potentially speed your labor, a popular study demonstrated that eating 6 dates a day starting at 35 weeks increased the likelihood of spontaneous labor and sped first stage labor. (1) A more recent study suggested that dates may reduce the need for augmentation but not necessarily induction (2), but since there isn’t any harm to eating dates unless you have dietary restrictions, it’s worth a try.
  • Have sex. Having sex 3 times a day, once you are at term, has been shown to improve the likelihood of spontaneous labor (3). Semen contains prostaglandins. Prostaglandins soften the cervix naturally, and synthetic prostaglandins are used in the common medications to start an induction. A softened cervix can make dilation and effacement easier and faster. In addition, female orgasm can create “tightenings”, or Braxton-Hicks contractions, and late in pregnancy this can sometimes stimulate real contractions to get going! (4)
  • Try pumping. Nipple stimulation that mimics a baby suckling triggers the hormone oxytocin. This hormone release allows you to “let down” your milk to your baby, and it also triggers uterine contractions.This can get contractions going and can help pick up the speed of contractions while in labor (5).  
  • Acupressure or acupuncture. In Eastern medicine, certain points on the body are thought to be tied to our body organs and life energy. In these traditions, putting pressure or small needles in certain areas is thought to be able to, among other things, stimulate the hormones you need to get labor going. Although you would need a trained provider who is skilled in working with pregnant women to provide acupuncture, acupressure can be done relatively simply with some guidance online. Popular points for labor include pressing your thumb on the roof of your mouth, pressing the side of your foot just under your ankle, and pressing your thumb in the middle of your hand (6).
  • Give yourself permission to relax and welcome this baby. Sound silly? It shouldn’t. We evolved to give birth to our young when we were in a safe place. For example, it is a common occurrence for women who head to their birthplace too soon to have labor stall on the drive. This is adrenaline working against you–adrenaline is telling your body that it might not be safe to have your baby yet, and it will wait until things are calmer (7). So, if early labor seems to start and stop without getting anywhere, do something relaxing. Walking is excellent for clearing your mind and can also help speed labor by putting pressure on the cervix (8). You can also quite literally tell your baby that it is safe to come out! Your baby can hear you and can sense your emotions. We know now more than we ever have before that babies can perceive a great deal in the womb (9). Let your baby know that they are in good hands and that you are ready to bring them into this safe, loving family “on the outside.”

Interested in learning more about induction and the ins and outs of natural childbirth? Consider a Bradley Method(™) class. We teach evidence- and experience-based ways to labor and give birth naturally, while giving you lifelong coping skills and strengthening your bond with your partner and your new baby. Our next 12-week class series at Om Baby begins Wednesday, April 10th, at 7pm.

 

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286995
3 https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-using-sex-for-natural-labor-induction/
4 https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0515/p2123.html
5 https://www.healthline.com/health/breast-pump-to-induce-labor#Is-it-safe?
6 https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/acupressure-points-inducing-labor#acupressure
7 http://www.childbirthconnection.org/maternity-care/role-of-hormones/
8 https://www.livestrong.com/article/525410-does-walking-speed-up-labor/
9 https://news.psu.edu/story/141254/2009/02/23/research/probing-question-can-babies-learn-utero


Alexandra puppelo

Alexandra Puppelo, M.A.
When Alexandra became pregnant with her first child,
she knew that she wanted a natural birth, and she knew
she would need some guidance to learn how! The closest
natural childbirth teacher to her home was a Bradley(TM)
teacher 45 minutes away. Through the 12 week series, she
realized what an impact natural birth with a loving partner
as a coach truly has on the start of a new family. When
their son was a few months old, she and her husband decided to
study to become Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth(R)
teachers to spread the joy and power of natural birth
to as many people as possible. We believe parents have the
right to be well-educated and empowered to make choices
for their new families, regardless of their eventual birth locations
and plans. Adding a child to a family changes that family forever,
and we want to help others to lovingly embrace this exciting time.
Alexandra loves helping others to understand all aspects of childbirth
and helping women to bring their babies into this world in the
safest, most joyful way possible.
Alexandra is a full-time technical writer who loves taking
technical content and making it easy for others to use and
understand. She is also available as a Bradley(TM) doula. You
can find her reading nonfiction for fun, working in her garden,
 and cooking delicious vegan food. She spends her spare time

with her bunny, puppy, young son, and husband.

 

Find Alexandra at Om Baby_»
Learn More about Bradley Method_»

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Celebrate the Power of Music

by Molly Mc-Goff Brunner
Zumbini 2
Created by Zumba and BabyFirst, ZUMBINI is an early childhood education program that uses original music and movement to promote cognitive, social, fine/gross motor skill, and emotional development for children ages 0 to 4, all while creating the ultimate bonding experience for you and your child.

Music is present in our lives on a regular basis from movies and TV that use music to enhance our visual experience to times of worship and celebration such as graduation or a birthday. ZUMBINI itself is a celebration of the power of music to enhance our lives, stimulate learning, inspire dance, explore movement, and strengthen the bond between child and caregiver/parent.

Zumbini3ZUMBINI is different from other programs because we don’t teach music. We use music to teach. Research has shown that exposure to music from early childhood onwards helps children to speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary, and strengthen social and emotional skills. This is because music has the ability to strengthen the connection between the body and brain to work together as a team. When dancing and moving to music children develop better motor skills whereas singing along to a song helps them practice their voice and speech and supports the development process in learning the sound, tone, and words.

I am so happy to bring the ZUMBINI program to Om Baby.

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Molly Mcgoff-Brunner.jpgMolly McGoff-Brunner

I am Molly McGoff-Brunner, a stay at home mom of two of my own amazing kiddos, Noah, 5 and Anyston ,3.  Plus a bonus kid on the weekends – Addison, my step-daughter, is 12.  Needless to say they keep me and my husband pretty busy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Born and raised in Carlisle, I graduated from Carlisle High School and then attended the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford where I earned my BS in Sports and Recreation Management.

In my efforts to get back into shape after my second baby I rediscovered my love of fitness classes.  As they say “do what you love, love what you do” so I decided to begin a journey of certifications and now I am a licensed instructor in Zumba, POUND, Generation POUND, and ZUMBINI.  I have a passion for working with children and want to make fitness FUN so it becomes part of their healthy lifestyle.

Find Molly at Om Baby_»
Learn More about Zumbini_»

The Joy of Creating Art with Children

-by Abby Leese

In her book The Gifts of ImperfectionBrene Brown writes, “If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing—it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.”

budding artists1

It is my experience as well that learning to make meaning by practicing making meaning is as important for a child as it is for an adult.  The more comfortable we are with ourselves as makers, the more comfortable we can be with our role in contributing to the world around us.

Encouraging children to create and play in a safe, engaging space is one of my passions and one of the gifts I feel I can offer to my community. Providing children with children interesting art and play materials and giving them the freedom to explore yields incredible results in terms of the art a child makes and in terms of their everyday lives.

Art instructor, Meri Cherry says, “I think creativity at its core is all about making connections, either with ourselves, our ideas, or those around us. The very act of making allows for a different kind of freedom that can connect us to who we truly are.”

I too believe that we get in touch with our thoughts, our feelings, and gain a sense of self when even the youngest of us take time to create.  We make meaning, learn to problem solve, and gain a sense of the beauty in the world when we make art.

The joy of creating art with children is about more than the product they create – it is about helping them find joy, confidence, and connection in the process of making something new.


View More: http://juliehagenbuchphoto.pass.us/leeseAbby Leese

I am an innovative thinker with a commitment to nurturing creative thinking with children. I have led Art wtih Kids at Dillsburg Farmers’ Market several Saturdays a Summer for four Summers. Beginning in 2019, I’ll be joining Om Baby to teach Budding Artists and other children’s art classes.  I am the mother of a seven year old innovator. I am also the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Etters where I value creativity as a way to connect to other people, to ourselves, and to our faith.

You can connect with Abby on Instagram at @art_with_kids.

Find Abby at Om Baby_»
Learn More about Budding Artists_»

Why I Think Breastfeeding Should be on My Resume

Navigating Cesarean and VBAC Advice

by Laura Shive

Cesarean

Photo used with permission from Michelle Sokolich at www.lovethelittlethings.com 

Have you ever had a conversation about birth with someone who doesn’t have an opinion? We’re not surprised when discussions of politics or religion elicit passionate responses, but expecting parents are often caught off guard by how readily friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers are willing to pass judgement about their birth plans.

Whether you are preparing for your first baby, adding to your family, or think your family is complete, as your bump expands you can probably expect at least a few unsolicited comments about your baby’s impending arrival.

If you’ve had a cesarean for a prior birth, or if you’re concerned about a surgical birth for this pregnancy, these comments and suggestions can take an especially heavy emotional toll and make you doubt yourself.

Take heart – we have several simple steps to help you handle the birth advice foisted upon you.

When our clients are feeling frustrated or hurt by criticism about their hopes for birth, we suggest they try to imagine that the opinion is offered by a stranger in a grocery check out lane instead of a loved one or coworker. It’s easier to give an internal eye roll and brush off suggestions from the nosy grandma you’ve never met than someone you care about. And the intent is often as benign – they think they have information that‘s going to be so helpful to you (even when it’s anything but welcome)!

Once you’ve escaped being “enlightened” about your choices, consider the source:

  • Has the person given birth in the past couple of years?

    It is amazing how quickly evidence about best practices in birth is emerging. What was considered optimal care five or more years ago may be completely outdated now. And if the birth was more than a decade ago… iPhones didn’t even have Siri and Alexa was just another girl’s name. So your loved one may truly believe they’re sharing facts, when it’s really more of a history lesson.

  • Has the person given birth where you plan to?

    Working as a birth doulas in eight area hospitals, I see a great deal of variation in approaches to even routine interventions. For example, some hospitals readily provide clear fluids in the form of ice pops and juices. Other facilities will halt a lengthy induction to allow the mother to eat a meal. Still other hospitals restrict intake to just ice chips from the time a mother is admitted until the baby is born. So unless you are speaking with someone who birthed recently at the same location you have chosen, their advice may be more about their own experience with their hospital’s rules than anything you are likely to encounter.

  • Do you have the same provider?

    Just as “routine care” varies considerably from one hospital to another, different providers subscribe to different practice guidelines. Some providers tell clients that they will be induced at 40 weeks if their baby has not arrived yet. Other providers don’t routinely induce until closer to 42 weeks. Your neighbor may have given birth a few months ago at the hospital you are planning to use, but your provider may have a completely different approach to managing pregnancy and labor.

This is especially true for TOLAC (Trial Of Labor After Cesarean, or the labor portion of a VBAC). Providers differ significantly in their comfort with TOLAC. Some providers encourage most of their clients to schedule repeat cesareans while others are supportive of TOLAC for a majority of their clients. You’ll find many providers who will offer labor induction to mothers with a prior cesarean, and other providers who refuse to entertain induction for TOLAC clients. So if your friend “had” to schedule a repeat cesarean because she didn’t go into labor before 40 weeks, it is more likely that her provider is one with a restrictive TOLAC/VBAC policy.

  • Do you have the same health history and risk factors?

Pregnancy and birth is not one-size-fits-all. It’s difficult to find one mother with multiple identical labors and births, let alone expect that your labor and birth will be just like someone else’s. Before placing too much value on someone else’s experience, consider how closely their health history and risk factors match yours.

What if the advice you are receiving is from your provider?

If your midwife or obstetrician is giving you advice that mirrors your hopes and goals for your birth, then congratulations! If you are given recommendations that are contrary to your wishes for your birth, you still have options.

We suggest our clients try to consider their pregnancy care provider as they would their auto mechanic. Both are skilled and knowledgeable service providers participating in running businesses. And in both of these situations, you are the client with the purchasing power. If your mechanic gives you a listing of several recommended repairs and a couple of upgrades to consider, there’s a good chance you’ll pick and choose what to do now, what to wait on, and what you have no interest in. And if you start to suspect that your mechanic is recommending services that you really don’t need, likely you’ll find a different mechanic.

Your pregnancy care provider, like the mechanic, has a wide range of options and also opinions on the best course of action (do they trust pregnant bodies, and only intervene when something is concerning, or do they believe they can eliminate some risks by actively controlling labor and birth). As the consumer, you get to decide if their approach is a good fit for you. Several area providers will accept transfer clients well into their third trimester.

When you see signs that a provider may not be a good fit:

  • First, try to have a discussion with your provider about why the recommendation is being made. Open-ended questions give you the best chance of deciphering what is driving the recommendation.

    Examples of open ended questions could include:
    How do you decide if I am a candidate for TOLAC?
    Can you explain why you want to schedule a cesarean now?

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your provider to back up their opinion with current research or practice bulletins. The conversation doesn’t have to be hostile – simply saying “I hadn’t considered that. Where can I read the study to educate myself more?” implies that you are open-minded, but also want to be an informed consumer when making your decisions. It may turn out that your provider is trying to practice evidence-based medicine, but isn’t quite up on the latest quality research.
  • Consider whether you have been given both risks and benefits for scheduling a cesarean and for a trial of labor. If you’ve been given reasons why one option is good and the other is poor, then you have not received the information you need for informed consent. Both cesareans and trials of labor have potential benefits and risks, and often there isn’t an accurate way to predict who will experience specific outcomes. It is important that you have all of the facts to make an informed decision you are comfortable with.
  • If you are considering a cesarean birth, has your provider discussed your thoughts about future birth control and family size, and counseled you about placenta acreta? If not, your provider may not be fully informed about the most recent research. Unfortunately, cesareans increase the chance of dangerous implantation of the placenta in future pregnancies. This should be a part of every conversation about cesarean delivery.

Local resources for exploring cesarean and VBAC/TOLAC options include the Cesarean and VBAC Support of Harrisburg (find it on Facebook or attend its monthly meetings on the third Tuesday at 6:30pm at Om Baby) and area VBAC classes.

National and online resources devoted to quality information about cesarean and VBAC/TOLAC include VBACFacts.com, International Cesarean Awareness Network http://www.ican-online.org/vbac-education-project/, and Childbirth Connection http://www.childbirthconnection.org/giving-birth/c-section/ http://www.childbirthconnection.org/giving-birth/vbac/

April is National Cesarean Awareness month. Look for articles, podcasts, and blog posts about cesarean births, VBAC, and TOLAC next month!

Love After Baby

by Holly Keich

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© Hollis Healy

Raising a baby is hard work. Harder than you can ever imagine before arriving home with your beautiful, new bundle. It’s a significant life change that requires 24/7 vigilance, love, understanding, compassion, and patience on just a few hours of interrupted sleep a day.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a tall order for me.  In fact, it’s a tall order for many parents and in turn directly effects couples relationships with each other as well.  In fact, 67% of couples become very unhappy with each other during the first 3 years of life. (1)

The relationship between parents can become the first thing to take a hiatus when baby arrives.  But studies show that the best thing you can give your baby is a happy and strong relationship.  So how do you do that when you’re feeling overwhelmed and what used to be disagreements between the two of you turn into destructive fights?

Babies offer new things to fight over and before you know it you’re even arguing over things you agree on. How does this happen?  Disagreements become less about the content or what the real issues are and become arguments about how you fight. For example, you disagree about where the bottles should be placed in the dishwasher.  It’s an extension of your usual disagreement about the proper placement of dishes in the dishwasher.  You think bottom shelf, he says top shelf. Instead of discussing the real issue, that you feel overwhelmed by this whole parenting thing and just want to do right by your child, you dig in and say he’s wrong and here’s why. He feels attacked when he was just trying to help and defends himself with a quick, snarky comeback.

And Baby Makes ThreeAll couples have arguments and disagree, it’s part of life. That won’t change, but how you relate to each other when there are conflicts could be significantly improved with just a few healthy conflict management skills.  And Baby Makes Three by John Gottman, PhD and Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD is a wonderful book that offer us guideposts for maintaining a relationship while parenting based on years of work with couples and a 13 year study that looked in detail at couples interactions after baby.  Let’s take a look at what they identified as healthy conflict management skills.

1. Soften  How You Start the Discussion

As soon as the first word is said, you know there’s a going to be trouble. Take a breath, check in with yourself.  What are you feeling? How can we express what we need if we don’t even know how we feel. Once you’re clear with yourself, state how you feel, neutrally. Describe the situation and state what you do need, not what you don’t need.

2. Accept Influence by Recognizing There are Two Valid Viewpoints

We’ve all heard there are two sides to every story, but in the midst of an argument, we’re convinced that ours is the right side. Regardless, postpone your attempts to persuade your partner about how correct you are.  Listen to your partners’ story, ask questions and restate them so they know you were listening. Get communication flowing before adding in your side of the story.  Remember you’re in this together. If the boat sinks, your both going down and now the baby’s coming with you.

3. Calm Down by Self Soothing

When we’re in the midst of a fight it’s likely that we’re experiencing a heightened arousal state. And whether we realize it or not we become flooded. We move into a fight or flight state and our lower brain centers take control. It’s hard if not impossible to be rational when in this state. So take a mommy and daddy time out for at least a 1/2 an hour. Reduce the adrenaline and cortisol release flooding your body. Don’t sit and ruminate about the fight, unless you’re focusing on your contribution, how you feel and what you need. If you’re feeling completely beyond rational thought do something that is a soothing activity. Then schedule a time to get back together and reconvene the discussion.

4. Compromise

It can be hard to consider, but compromise is a daily staple of a healthy relationship. It’s helpful to identify your core areas of need, things in which you can’t yield. Then consider what areas have greater flexibility? Then discuss how you can come together on a solution.

5. The Aftermath of a Fight: Process and Understand It

Sometimes this needs to be a scheduled event. Find a time where you have the time to  sit and discuss your feelings and point of view without blame. Realize that you have an active role in the argument as much as your partner. Take turns confessing the part you played in the drama. Then take a look at how you could make it better next time?

6. Figure Out the Conversation You Needed to Have Instead of the Fight

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, often we end up arguing about superficial things when the real heart of the issue is much, much deeper. Each of us have our triggers, some we may not even realize until we’re standing in the dust and debris after the smoke clears. Take a look at what triggers you more closely. Discuss your triggers with your partner so that they know these are the things that set you off and flood your brain with stress hormones. Delve into why these specific items are triggering. Where do they arise from – is it related to past experiences? How could you handle them differently? Make sure you each take time to listen to each other with compassion and avoid delving back into the argument.  If that happens, take another parent time out and reconvene at another time.

7. Move From Gridlock to Dialogue When You Have Unsolvable Problems

Do you ever feel like you’re having the same argument over and over.  It’s because you are.  69% of problems in the couples the Gottmans studied were repeats of the same issue. (2) Perpetual problems arise from fundamental differences in your personalities and lifestyle needs.  In these scenarios, the Gottmans found that values, dreams, and personal philosophies also underlie our gridlocked positions. In order to gain a better understanding of ourselves and each other, we must become “dream detectives”.  You’ll find more info here about what steps to take to undo the gridlock and make dialogue possible about these perpetual issues.

While these steps are extremely useful in cooling down heated situations in your relationship, there are many additional considerations to creating a healthy relationship after baby.  Come join Marriage and Family Therapist, Lynn Brooks to take a deeper look at what makes a loving, connected relationship in We Become Three at Om Baby.  We’ll look at additional strategies and techniques to help you face this major life transition while turning towards each other for closeness and bonding, finding joy in your new family.


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Holly Keich is the owner of Om Baby Pregnancy & Parenting Center in Camp Hill.  She is a Licensed Social Worker, Yoga Instructor, Certified Infant Massage Instructor, Parent, Wife and adamant student in the school of life.

Beginning Again

by Holly Keich, LSW

Empty Cup 1

My cup was empty. Imagine the large soup bowl type coffee cup that you can wrap both hands around to warm yourself on a chilly day.  Imagine it EMPTY.  That’s how I envisioned it anyway. I’d never stopped to fill it. Constantly trying to fill everyone else’s cup and keep things running smoothly. It’s as if I believed perfection could fill it up.

I’d bring my cup, even quite literally once, to communal events expecting others to fill it. But even if I left with my heart filled to the brim, I’d find it empty again soon. It seemed as if the cup was broken and the love would slowly slip away through the cracks leaving me again…EMPTY.

Over time it became obvious that maybe the cup needed to be fixed. Rather than continuing to reach for outside solutions, maybe this needed to be an inside job. And maybe, just maybe, when I doused the cup with attention, caring, and self-love I’d actually uncover an amazing vessel, not transformed by corrections but beautifully revealed anew. A vessel that could not only be filled with love until overflowing, but was actually itself constructed of love and compassion. For self-love is not merely the patch of a spa visit or the band-aid indulgence of a chocolate treat on a difficult day, it’s knowing yourself from within with a clarity like no other and honoring who you see.

In the past, I’d scoured the outside world for an answer to fill my cup, reading passages from Marianne Williamson, books by Brené Brown, listening to interviews and talks by Pema Chödrön and other guests on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.* I was seeking a deeper understanding of true happiness from a variety of sources. They all pointed me in a similar direction. To sit in the stillness of the moment with a curious eye and an open heart.

All the signs were there continually pointing me in the same direction, but yet instead, with a cautious heart, I chose to read about meditation, contemplate it, study it, listen to others experiences of it, but not actually sit still, relax, get comfortable and do it. In 2018, I resolve that will change. So the question now is, as a busy mom of two, with a full life on the side, how do I start a regular meditation practice and keep it going?

Well, the first tip I found was to “Just Breathe.”  Lucky for me, I can do that.  Wherever I am, my breath is there as a tool for mindfulness.  Breathe in peace and find space.  Exhale that sensation down throughout the body, checking in with a spirit of curiosity. How am I feeling in this moment physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Each breath is another opportunity to see myself more clearly, who I truly am here in this moment, without judgment.

While meditation conjures up thoughts of sitting in lotus on a cushion for hours, it luckily does not always have to mean complete stillness because we all know that’s not always possible. Incorporating mindful movement, where we move through an activity with focused attention in this moment, counts. It might be walking, yoga, folding laundry, showering, or even lying with my child until they drift off to sleep. The point is to stay focused on this moment, then this moment, now this moment. Focus on the twitter of birds in the distance; a drishti (or gazing point) in each pose; the feel of the material as it’s creased and folded from a mountain into neat, tidy piles of clean clothing; the temperature of the water as it rolls down the skin; and the smell of my child’s hair as I feel their chest begin to rise and fall more slowly under the warm glow of the nightlight.  Paying full attention to the task at hand is something we all have the time to incorporate into our busy day.

In line with keeping it simple, I plan to develop a mantra. It might be one for each meditation, but maybe one that’s longer-lasting and more enduring with a broader purpose for each day, week, month or maybe even all of 2018. To help keep the habit, I’ll create reminders of the mantra tucked it into my current book, pasted on my bathroom mirror, folded into a note to keep in my purse, on a screen saver across my computer. It’s time to get creative. I’ll need to repeat the mantra as often as I can, consider it a prescription for my health to be provided in regular doses. Open. Warmth. Peace. Love.

Hakini Mudra

Equipped with these new tools, I thought I’d start my New Year’s resolution promptly onNew Year’s Day. Best to start right away or else I might find myself at the end of the day with excuses at every turn. No need to roll out of bed. I’ll give it a go even before anyone knows I’m awake, best to have an undisturbed practice that way. So I tuned into my breath, placed my hands in hakini mudra, focused on my mantra of “open” and settled in to begin.

First I noticed the sounds in the house, my husband in the shower, the muffled sounds of my children watching TV in the living room. Wait, back to the breath. Open. Breathe. I wonder what there is for breakfast. There are leftovers still from Christmas breakfast. Those should probably get tossed. Guess no one liked them. Wait. Thinking. Watch the thoughts pass by as if on a cloud without attachment as I gently and lovingly I bring myself back to this moment, to this breath. With my arm around my inner self’s shoulders, I imagine leading myself back to my center and my mantra.

Scratching. I didn’t even know I had an itch. How did I get here? Pay attention. Wait, be loving. Open. Curious. Breathe again, here now.  …  Coming back to the conscious moment… I have no recollection of the past several minutes. I must have fallen asleep. Oh great. Well, lesson learned. Maybe there is something to that first tip about finding a meditation space in your house. Then I can leave the bed for it’s intended purpose, sleeping. Thinking mind. Back to the breath with a loving heart.

 

This is the practice of meditation. It was not a failure, I am not a failure for thinking, for wandering, for getting lost for that is part of the practice of meditation. It’s the coming back to the breath, to the mantra, to this moment here, now, again and again, that is the practice of meditation. So, tomorrow, I start with a fresh mind and a curious heart.  As Sharon Salzberg says in “Real Happiness” “It’s completely possible to start over.  Wherever we’ve gone, we can begin again.”  

When we are open to change, teachers will arise from many directions. Along with Sharon Salzberg, here are some I hope to explore more in the new year ahead.

Sounds True: A Year of Mindfulness
Real Happiness Meditation Challenge / Sharon Salzberg
Tara Brach
Self-Compassion / Dr. Kristin Neff

Perhaps you’re interested in joining me or maybe you’re already on the path and have suggestions or words of encouragement to keep it going.  Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

May you have a blessed and peaceful New Year!

*Well, to be honest, this is still a regular practice. 😉

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Holly Keich is the owner of Om Baby Pregnancy & Parenting Center in Camp Hill.  She is a Licensed Social Worker, Yoga Instructor, Certified Infant Massage Instructor, Parent, Wife and adamant student in the school of life.