How much stock do you put in mind+body+spirit being wrapped up in one?
We Westerners like to separate them all. How could it possibly be that the food I eat has any bearing on my health -physical, emotional and certainly not spiritual? The emotional stress I’m putting myself through is in no way related to way my body is feeling right now. Spirituality? I go to church on Sunday and I pray before meals and bed. I check the dots, tick off the requisites and I’m good. Or maybe I just don’t believe in any of that ooey-ahey, woo-woo stuff.
I have often read that a mother’s emotions and stress directly affect her baby. Okay. As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, now I have to try to be all zenned out 100% of the time? I was discussing this with my husband and he said, “well, regardless if it’s not good for the baby, it’s not good for you in the first place.”
Well said, sir.
And that made me think. Am I living holistically or compartmentalizing and separating my mind+body+spirit? How much do I believe in its interconnectedness?
I’ve struggled with my spirituality for several years, waffling back and forth between my strong Christian heritage, not believing in any higher being and investigating a greater creative force. It all sounds like hippy dippy stuff to me, but I’m interested. And lately I’ve dusted off my spirituality and am picking it up and trying to integrate it into my life again. This is where the whole triad comes together and becomes pertinent to pregnancy.
Negative stress isn’t good for anybody. Yes, we could go into a whole discussion on stressors that help with performance, etc, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about worry and fear that degrade life and happiness and health. The crap nobody needs in their life. So get back with me here –stress ain’t good for nobody. Nobody and no baby. And what I’ve been reading about and thinking on lately is how powerful our perspective and intentions are in fashioning our lives.
As long as you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve noticed the blitz of GRATITUDE, right? Gratitude is everywhere theses days. Everyone is grateful, everyone is #BLESSED -and isn’t that lovely, I’m not dissing it. We’re surrounded by abundance and we’re more dissatisfied than ever (me included) and so a calling has been sounded to connect with gratitude to find happiness in the midst of all this excess.
We recently went on a road trip (I’ll tell ya all about it) to visit my sister and her clan in Tennessee. In the week or so before leaving my husband and I began to get this itch to simplify and declutter. We went through our closets, began pulling junk out of our cupboards, collecting things to give to charity and items to sell on craigslist. Oh my gaaash, we just have so much STUFF! Things I haven’t seen or used or needed in years, just stashed away in corners of the house.
Upon arriving at my sisters -a home with six kids (ages 17 to 7) and two adults- I was shocked to find it…simplified. Non-cluttered. Things where they belonged and systems in place to prevent extra crap (er, items) accumulating in their home. The kids have a policy that if something comes in the house, something else leaves the house, so if they don’t value it as much as what they currently have it gets returned, re-gifted or given to charity. That goes for clothes, toys, anything. I immediately wanted to excavate all the crap in my closets and purge my house when I got home.
When I talked with my sister about her new approach (we come from a family or hoarders, saving’s what we do. It might be the Presbyterian in us,) she said it was based on priorities. She’s integrated simplicity into her relationships, time management, work, home life, along with the physical stuff. She has a short list. If the thing/activity/relationship doesn’t make the short list, it’s not a top priority and she’s allowed to say no to it. TALK ABOUT FREEDOM, HUH?!
Simplicity is a tool that helps us maintain balance. Balance of mind+body+spirit. If we crowd our day with activities that don’t line up with our priorities, we gain stress. If we crowd our lives with things that don’t line up with our priorities, we gain stress. If we crowd our minds with things that don’t line up with our priorities, we gain stress. I repeat myself, but it’s worth saying.
Our mind+body+spirit is connected. When we neglect one area, it shows up negatively in the others. If I’m spiritually dead, I’m not functioning at a level of happiness I’m capable of. If I’m neglecting my body’s needs, I can’t function emotionally and therefore cause damage to other areas of my life. It all spills over because it’s all in one bowl: me.
So balance, priorities, simplicity and connectedness -how does this all go together?
What I’m learning is that life is all in your head. The power of positivity, changing your mental messages, taking charge of your beliefs and not relying on past experience to dictate them if they aren’t serving you.
On our last driving day home from Tennessee I woke up and braced myself. Three kids in the car, a husband who was very done with traveling, 7 hours of driving plus 2 more for various food and potty breaks. It was going to be a challenge and I knew that nerves were raw. All of a sudden it occurred to me, “Find what makes me happy.” I started noticing little things. Tennyson’s giggles. The bright, yellow roses on the passenger seat of a car we were parked next to. The man in the hotel lobby who beamed at the kids as they ran around with scranky hair and shoeless feet. These noticings (it’s a word) delighted me. I allowed them to. And when I was busy finding happiness, I didn’t have room for the worry/fear/grumpy to crowd in. And, even better? It rubbed off on everybody else. Looky there, I made some magic!
It is an effort for me to sit down in the mornings and have quiet journalling time -I feel I should jump on the computer and start in on my to-do list, no time for that feely-touchy stuff. But when I make it a priority, I find greater peace and I get clarity for my work day and life situations I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I crowd my life with to-dos, shoulds, social media, Netflix, noise, noise, noise. I crowd my life with stuff -things I don’t really need but seem like a good deal or a luxury I “deserve.” And I neglect my spirit, thinking it’s frivolous and too touchy-feely.
What I need is to make my list of priorities. Hold everything up to it and let it be the big bad boss who says no to the crap that crowds my life.
So that’s what’s next. The short list.
And remembering that, yes, all those parts of us are connected to each other. Paying attention to each one is important, and caring for ourselves means caring for our babies -for all you fellow pregnant mamas.