The Breathe, Mama, Breathe Book Club Guide
A FEW TIPS BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
Adapt the guide to fit your needs:
If your neighborhood “Book Club” is anything like mine, it is a loosely structured affair (hence the air quotes), with lots of hugs, catching up, delicious appetizers and adult beverages (Wine Mindful Break, anyone?). Maybe you run a tight book club ship, with a predictable format and serious discussion, or perhaps it resembles some combination of the two. Whatever the case, have fun but keep in mind that we moms need to take this self-care stuff seriously.
The BMB Guide can also be used as a solo dive into a deeper mindfulness practice. If so, I encourage you to reach out to other mindful mamas as well — whether through Skype, email, or even starting your own Facebook group. Discussions that arise out of sharing experiences is often energizing, reassuring, heart-warming, and enlightening. If you are inspired to form your own book club — hooray for you, Mama (it’s definitely time for a Mommy High-Five)!
The Breathe, Mama, Breathe Guide is divided into two parts:
Part One introduces mindfulness, meditation, and mindful breaks — getting you started with a daily practice — and explores other related topics.
Part Two is used as a check-in at the following month’s meeting — either for the full meeting or a brief portion of it.
I have included more questions than can probably be examined in one meeting. Feel free to pick and choose what speaks to you. Finally, I love to hear from fellow Mamas! Let me know what you discover and/or if you are feeling stuck on a particular challenge.
Alright, here you go — breathe, Mamas, breathe….
What are your top three stressors (not enough time, yelling too much, sleep deprivation, high expectations of self/others, distractions, balance)?
What is mindfulness, meditation, and the difference between the two? (Intro, p 8)
Recall a moment when you felt connected to your child. What conditions were present in order for this to happen (slower pace, no distractions, no expectations)? What body sensations did you notice (smile on face, warmth in chest, relaxed muscles)? What do you notice now as you recall this moment ?
Why do you want to bring mindfulness into your life?
What is happening in your Triangle of Awareness right now — thoughts, body sensations, emotions? (Triangle of Awareness Mindful Break, p 28)
Use the Coffee Mindful Break (p 53) or Wine Mindful Break (p 232) to savor your liquid refreshment of choice.
Use a guided meditation from shondamoralis.net or another site and meditate for five minutes together. Discuss what you noticed. (*See the myth of clearing your mind of thoughts.)
Identify when you will meditate (time of day, for how long, between what two already established habits).
What barriers might arise (perfectionism, judging, time, interruptions)? How will you address them?
Describe a recent pleasant moment using the Triangle of Awareness. For homework: Identify two pleasant moments each day and write them down at bedtime. (Pleasant Moments Mindful Break, p 89)
What is guilt vs. shame and how do we work with each? (Got Muilt?, p 182. Unpleasant Moments, p 210)
In what ways can you get more rest? (Sick Days Mindful Break, p 189)
Do you make time for hobbies? What are they? If it’s been so long you can’t remember, what did you love to do as a child? (Your Little Slice of Heaven Mindful Break, p 193)
What happened recently that is worthy of a Mommy High-Five? For homework: Be on the lookout for daily opportunities. (Mommy High-Five, p 186)
Recall a time you opened up to another mom about a struggle you were experiencing. What happened? What lessons did you learn?
What are your kids’ meltdown triggers? What are yours? How might you handle these situations more mindfully? (SNAP Break, p 44. STOP the Teen ‘Tude, p 112. After the Meltdown Mindful Break, p 196)
Name three mindful breaks you will practice this week.
Use the Mindfulog to track your practice. Set a time each week to connect with a mindful accountability partner and share your experiences. Notice and name progress.
Begin with a guided meditation. After, name what is present in your Triangle of Awareness.
How is your mindfulness practice going? How often and for how long are you meditating?
What have you noticed? With what are you struggling? What works and what doesn’t?
What mindful breaks are you using? Are there any new mindful breaks you have developed on your own?
How have your kids responded? Your partner?
Do you remember why you wanted to bring mindfulness into your life? Is this still relevant?
To which practices will you recommit?
Name a recent Mommy High-Five. Congratulate yourself for all of your mindfulness efforts!
*The myth of “clearing your mind of thoughts.” If I had a dollar for every time someone told me she has “tried to meditate but couldn’t” I’d be donating immense sums of cash to charity. Meditation is not clearing our minds of thoughts. It is simply observing all of the busy, crazy thoughts that do arise when we sit down, get quiet, and watch. The thoughts do not stop. Ever. We call it a practice for a reason. Over time, and with lots of practice, the space between our thoughts might increase. Sometimes. Regardless of how long you’ve been meditating, however, there will be times you end a meditation and realize you were lost in thoughts most of the time. Notice if you are trying too hard. Use a light touch when redirecting and resting your attention on the breath. I repeat — meditation is not clearing your mind of thoughts. It is simply noticing and redirecting your attention back to a point of focus when you have gotten pulled into the thinking of the thoughts.