Stress-reduction resources including mind/body programs, acupuncture, counseling, and yoga are available to you at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health - but what about when you’re traveling, or alone, or just can’t make it in to take advantage of these services?
That’s when mindfulness matters.
It’s what Ali Domar, PhD, teaches through her mind/body infertility programs at the Domar Center, and it’s recently become a popular “buzzword”. In this episode (find the link to listen at the end of this post) of NPR’s “On Point,” host Tom Ashbrook speaks with Davis Gelles (New York Times), Sara Lazar (Massachusetts General Hospital; Harvard Medical School), and Lynne Goldberg (Author) about the mindfulness and meditation boom in the US today.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means coming back to the present moment over and over and over (and over) again. Mindfulness means being present – and meditation is the tool to get you there. Even though meditation “comes in many flavors, varieties, and religions”, all roads lead to the same place: a state of mindfulness.
How does that sound to you? Dreamy? Perfect? …Horrible?
The reality is that most people are terrified of their thoughts. And it’s true – the present moment is certainly not always pleasant – Arguing with a loved one? Experiencing loss? Dealing with infertility? The present moment can actually be pretty terrible! But mindfulness isn’t about pretending everything is perfect. It’s about being very real with what’s present in your mind and body at the moment. Often, taking the moment of mindful pause allows you to disengage from the frustration of the moment. It’s like a circuit breaker. When you disengage with the heat of the moment, you can begin to see the silly habit and thought patterns of your mind with clarity.
The Science of Mindfulness
It’s fair to be skeptical of the effectiveness of a practice that seems so simple, but mindfulness is actually very well-studied, and has lots of scientific work around it – enough to prove that its effects are not just psychosomatic, and not just placebo. And this is exactly why the Domar Center teaches mindfulness as a tool for coping with the stress of infertility.
Mindfulness in Your Life
We’re all just trying to get through the day, and we all have to deal with our own sources of agitation. Mindfulness is an opportunity to come back to the present moment and feel some relief from the stress of life. This is the purpose of meditation: to see past agitation and stress and discover who you really are. This is why mindfulness is helpful across the board. Ready to get started?
- Where can you start? Right here right now! Meditation is the most single most accessible practice available to us all. You can literally sit down right now, close your eyes, become aware of your body, and let your thoughts pass through your awareness like clouds. You can do it every morning for 5-10 minutes. You can take meditation breaks at work. It’s the single most accessible practice available to you – you don’t need to go into a studio. You don’t even need to download an app (although there are many meditation apps available that may be helpful).
- The quieter you are, the more still you are, the more you can notice your mind and physical sensations without distraction.
- While eating: Slow down, and notice each of your 5 senses. How does this bite smell? How does it feel in your mouth? In your stomach? How does it taste? With practice, you will gain an understanding of how specific foods, or types of foods, make you feel, so that you can make wise choices going forward, as opposed to starting a new diet which may not be the best choice for your own unique body.
- Outside: Mindfulness tends to come very naturally when we’re in nature. Take a walk, or just be still. Notice each of your senses.
- With a group: Especially if you’re new to mindfulness, the support of a group can be an invaluable tool in getting started and committing to your practice. Women experiencing infertility can join a 10-week mind/body program for fertility at the Domar Center to learn proven coping strategies, including mindfulness, for regaining a sense of control while weathering infertility. Get started here: bostonivf.com/wellness-center/mind-body-program-for-fertility/.
- Online: Another resource for women experiencing infertility is the FertiCalm app (ferticalm.com), which provides mindful coping options for over 50 specific situations which have the potential to cause distress throughout the family building journey.
- Anytime, anywhere: While performing any activity, ask yourself: “am I doing this mindfully?” If you shift your attention to your breath and your mind, you can really do anything mindfully?
Listen to the full podcast “The Meaning of our New Mindfulness” here: http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2017/04/24/modern-meditation.