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February 11, 2010

Meditation during pregnancy

Meditation is a wonderful practice during pregnancy. Meditation can help ease the hormone induced anxiety of pregnancy, it's great practice for managing labour pain and good for your physical health too. And if it's good for mum it's good for baby.

I've practiced meditation for many years, I aim to do one hour every morning. In reality an hour is a struggle for me, and I often miss one or two days a week. But I figure as long as my practice is regular and I put in effort then I will get better over time.

I practice a technique called Dhyana meditation, as taught by Shivarudra Balayogi. He says
Sit comfortably with the back and neck straight,
Close your eyes.
Concentrate the mind and sight in between eyebrows.
Keep watching there by focusing the attention.
Do not repeat any mantra or name. Do not imagine anything.
Do not open your eyes until the duration of meditation is over.
For more on this technique visit this website. There are many, many techniques and if you are interested in starting meditation experiment until you find one that suits you. This style of meditation is about thoughtless awareness, I also do some guided relaxations in my pre-natal yoga class which involve sending love to the baby and thanks to the world for support and lovely things like that. These are only for five or ten minutes at a time.

So back to pregnancy. Before I was pregnant I had heard that being pregnant is very grounding and that people find meditation easier during pregnancy. Prior to my pregnancy was one of the easiest and most regular periods of meditation I've been able to do. But since then it's been a very different story!

Between nausea, constant hunger and sleepiness I've found early mornings on an empty stomach difficult, which is the time of day I usually meditate. I gave up meditation completely for a few weeks when morning sickness was at it's peak, and have since found mornings a bit easier if I have some milk or fruit or some other simple food before sitting.

Then actually sitting has been difficult too. My back and hips ache, and I've found sitting in my regular half lotus far too much work for my stomach muscles. There was a stage where the only position I could stay still in for long periods was on my back supported on two bolsters, like this. This is a lovely stretch during pregnancy anyway as it opens the lungs, ribs and shoulders. Now I'm too big to lie on my back at all, no matter how well supported! These days I'm comfortable sitting in half lotus with my back against the wall, which is great.

And there's my mind. Anxious, hormone fueled, excited...it's really hard to keep it from wandering. When I finally get comfy the baby gets the hiccoughs or decides to have a kicking frenzy against my ribs, so really, I can't win.

So in short, I feel meditation has really been very beneficial to my pregnancy, but it certainly hasn't been easy. If you are struggling with meditation don't worry, you are not alone. It's called practicing for a reason, and you'll probably find that even the most seasoned meditators have to put in effort. We have this idea in the west that some people can just close their eyes and enter heightened states of awareness. But for most of us it's about dedication, discipline and patience, as my guru says. And like pregnancy, birth and parenting, it really is worth it!

3 comments:

Anna said...

Do you know anything much about TM meditation? I am considering a course on this. What brought you to your meditation technique?

Sudha said...

Hi Julia ,
Congrats!I have a request. Could you post something on post natal care of the mother / baby. I know its kind of early for you but I recently had baby and would like to follow ayurvedic diet / lifestyle .

Julia said...

Anna, I know a few people who have really got a lot out of TM. My problem with it is that you have to pay a lot of money to develop your techniques. I also prefer a technique that doesn't have levels, as it encourages a materialistic, worldy, linear view of spirituality, and I just don't think it's that simple. Have a go, but do try other techniques as well. You might find one that's free to learn and once you've learned your practice is independant. See what works for you.

Sudha, make sure you check out a website called Sacred Window, it's excellent, Ysha Oakes teaches very pure Ayurveda and has a wealth of knowledge on post-natal care. I'll post something soon too.