Have you ever wanted to try meditation but felt that it was too hard, time-consuming, spiritual or that you just weren’t any good at emptying your mind?
I hear these concerns from lots of women who have heard about the benefits of meditation but aren’t sure if can work for them.
That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to Alysse Di Natale, founder of Young Yoga and the Meditate with Friends app. She is so inspiring and passionate about supporting the wellbeing of young people. When I downloaded her app, I knew I wanted to connect with her and I’m glad I did, because I quickly realised that she had some pearls of wisdom that mums could benefit from also. I hope you enjoy our conversation about making meditation easy and manageable for mums and kids, shared in this 2-part blog series.
Hi Alysse! Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how you came to create the Meditate with Friends app?
Before I introduce myself, I want to thank you for taking the time to connect with what I’m about to share. There is so much information we have available to us as mothers, and it can sometimes be overwhelming as we decipher what’s beneficial.
So, before you continue to read ahead, I invite you to take a moment to make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable position. See if you can relax your body a little. Perhaps soften your shoulders away from your ears, let your belly release, open and close your jaw a few times and place your feet on the floor beneath you. Barefoot if possible, outside would be even more beneficial (if that’s available to you). Take a deep breath in, hold it for a moment…… and now slowly breathe out. Repeat this a few times with your eyes closed if that’s comfortable for you.
Welcome back from a moment of Meditation…
I am a first-time mother of a 19-month-old and riding the waves of his monthly development as I simultaneously find myself on this new path of matrescence. A little background info on my journey from 2008 to 2022; I have worked in the Education sector with children of all ages, from early childcare and schools, both primary and high school, to teaching Yoga classes and workshops for all the above.
Young Yoga was my first small business that came to life in 2014. A time when my mental health was challenged as I looked for purpose and meaning in life. It ultimately became the catalyst for my children’s yoga journey. As I healed my own health it drove me to the most amazing experiences and I became completely emersed and inspired to help the wellbeing of children and their families. Along my Young Yoga journey, I discovered a need for better meditation resources for children to utilise at home or at preschool/school. With the help of a small team of 3, I launched Meditate with Friends APP version 1 in 2021. It’s been a wild ride and I have now rediscovered how to navigate the balance of family life and career life that both bring me huge purpose.
What do you believe are the main benefits of meditation for mothers?
My beliefs about the benefits of meditation for mothers come from a combination of study, practice, and personal experience. Meditation is worth trying for yourself to discover it can:
Mothers of young children often have their sleep cycles disturbed (circadian rhythm) which can be difficult to re-regulate after months of sleep disruptions or deprivation. Consistent meditation before bed or to induce relaxation for daily naps can help retrain the sleep-wake cycles.
Meditation or mindfulness practices can slow down the heart rate in a beneficial way, slow the breathing rate, blood pressure, and soothe the sympathetic nervous system fight or flight functions.
Improve overall wellbeing
Even brief moments of meditation, relaxation, and intentional breathing activities can alleviate feelings of worry and overwhelm. Let’s face it, being a mum is a tough gig, full of responsibilities, and for a first-time mum completely foreign. Navigating the ever-changing nature of a child in addition to family life and for many mothers nowadays the return to work life. Imagine if you could push pause on one or all those worries once a day, where you could feel calm, content, nurtured, and safe even just for 5 minutes. The ripple effect on your wellbeing that occurs in the mind and body is highly beneficial. Physically it can reduce, headaches, dizziness, and pain, improve immunity, support better weight management, and support milk production for new mums. Mentally it can improve alertness, focus, clarity, organisation, and alleviate or reduce feelings of sadness and depression.
Facilitate better relationships
Most of the time meditation helps us remain or return to a more understanding, rational, and optimistic state of mind. Therefore, when faced with misunderstandings or uncooperative family or friends, it’s easier to stay more compassionate and respond in a way that is patient, regulated and authentic to what we value, rather than responding from exhaustion, frustration, overwhelm, or a collection of disappointments from the week that has been. If I haven’t taken the time to pause, meditate, or even just take a few deep breaths over the week, my own mother knows and says “have you meditated this week?”.
Meditation can also help you be more present and connected with your baby/child, play with them, and listen to them rather than getting caught up with your endless parent to-do lists.
Encourage children to do the same
The benefit I value most since becoming a mother is that my son holds me accountable for my meditation/mindfulness practice because I want him to see me relaxed and calm. I want him to learn to have a relationship with this useful tool as he grows and faces life.
Be very accessible
Meditation doesn’t require any fancy tools, equipment, yoga studios, or even a quiet room (even though I do favour a quiet space over a loud one, meditation can still be achieved either way). All you need is yourself and the intention to try and be aware of the moment.
Many women express a desire to try meditation but worry they won’t be able to do it because it is too difficult, time-consuming, spiritual, or requires a consistent daily practice that will be hard for them to fit into their lives. What advice do you have to offer in regards to this?
What is meditation?
A state of subtle focus that the mind can learn to maintain. 10 minutes can be enough for some people, others enjoy spending more or less.
Traditionally, meditation may have been only practiced in formal places for long periods of time, but the practice has come a long way and integrated into western culture. Society has re-shaped it, re-named and found new ways of delivering it. In the process, all the health benefits can be experienced for individuals and families. Finding your own mindfulness/meditation practice is important so it becomes personal, comfortable, and easy to add into your life as often as you need or as often as feels good.
Since becoming a mother I had to find new ways to invite movement and meditation back into my life again. In the early months after an emergency cesarean, I cried the first time I brought myself back to a yoga mat and I could barely lay on my belly. My son also cluster fed in the early weeks for hours on end. It was here I had to learn how to prioritise and find sustainable ways to re-introduce meditation and movement back into my life. I had to meet myself exactly where I was, physically and mentally, and get the most out of meditation even if it was for a minute during my day. As a new mother with all the sacrifices and adjustments that came with it, I found ways to include it in my day.
For ideas about how you can incorporate meditation into your life as a mother, and how to invite children into a meditation practice, read part 2 here.
About Alysse Di Natale
Alysse Di Natale was destined to spend her career caring, educating and more specifically, supporting the wellbeing of young people locally and incommunities far and wide.
For over 15 years her attentive nature has provided Alysse with an insight into the practical needs of children. More recently, the last 4 years of Young Yoga revealed the increasing need and desire children have for quiet time and moments of stillness in their surprisingly demanding day.
The Meditate with Friends app was designed to give voice to the child wishing to speak and be heard. The first of it’s kind, it has created a community of children dedicated to each other’s wellbeing through meditation.
“Meditation by children for children” – this is her dream come true.