Small Moments in Mindfulness


Small Moments in Mindfulness

By Erin Polk

Mid toddler tantrum this morning with my extremely spirited and incredibly stubborn two and a half year old boy, watching him literally throw himself on the ground in what would have looked like break-dancing if I could have been spared the high pitched screams, I realized I had no way of resolving this moment for him

I simply had to wait it out until he was ready for a hug and the ability for us both to move on with the day.

With my nine month old girl in the high chair, blissfully eating cheerios and watching this all unfold, I decided to start sweeping in the kitchen. Cleaning has always been a stress reliever for me--an outlet when I feel like I have no control over any other area of my life. When I clean I can easily wipe away any mess and put all of the physical bits of my life back where they belong. As I was sweeping up our crumbs from the night before into the dust pan, my toddler came right up to me, squatted down to inspect the contents and said, “what are you doing with that, Mama?” With a heavy sigh of relief knowing that his explosion was over, I explained that I was sweeping up the mess to dump into the trash. I told him how it’s nice to be able to throw away the physical mess of our lives when we’re feeling out of control with our emotions. And then we took a deep breath together and dumped it into the bin as we both exhaled.

He may be too young to truly connect the dots in that abstract moment, but he’s not too young to start learning.

When I first learned about mindfulness and meditation about a year ago, I pictured sitting perfectly still in complete silence, in the middle of an open room free of any and all clutter or noise. I thought that even if I had time to sit still, I did not know how to anymore, and I would never have a place that’s free of any sign of having been lived in. But that’s not what it has to look like for us to reap the amazing benefits of being mindful. I’m learning now that I can take a pause before entering my son’s bedroom in the morning and set one simple intention or wish for how I’d like our day to go. I can practice different ways of deep breathing while I nurse my daughter before her naps. Or I can listen to recorded meditations from the Mindful Mamas Club before falling asleep for the night.

Freeing myself from the stereotypes and “rules” of meditation has allowed me to open my heart and mind in my practice and has truly been the most effective healing for my postpartum depression and anxiety. 

My entry into motherhood has been nothing short of rocky, and that’s a fact that I’m still coming to terms with two and a half years later. I could easily get stuck on whether this practice would have helped me when I was in the deepest and darkest days with my firstborn’s extreme colic, and silently suffering from postpartum depression, but there’s really no point in letting myself obsess over that.  I found mindfulness when I was 8 months pregnant with my second and I’ll forever be grateful for the timing of its introduction into my life because only a few short months later, I realized I was in deep again, but with an entirely different and new-to-me perinatal mood disorder: postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (PPOCD). I’ve struggled to make my practice a part of my daily routine, but I’m quickly learning that there are always opportunities and small moments for mindfulness throughout my entire day, even if it’s simply dumping some swept up crumbs into the trash bin with my toddler, as long as I’m open and willing to take those moments.

How do you incorporate mindfulness into a chaotic life?

Be sure to follow Erin on Instagram @erinmichellle