How to Mother Yourself
My mom taught us early on that EVERY day is Mother’s Day. And, because she’s always right, I can’t really argue with her! It’s important to acknowledge all the mothers, to-be mothers, wanting-to-be mothers, and, of course, the ultimate mother, Mother Earth on Mother’s Day and every day.
Yesterday, May 11th, I graduated from my yoga teacher training at Gritty Buddha. It might surprise you that as someone who blows through degrees and certifications, I completely dismiss graduations. I spent Penn graduation anxious about starting law school in the fall, I ran out in the middle of my law school graduation, and I completely skipped my graduation from my nutrition program.
I’ve never properly acknowledged myself. But, yesterday, I took it all in. With my mom and grandma Chip (and Rob) with me to celebrate, I soaked in the love and support from my family and my yoga family and acknowledged this accomplishment. My ability to adequately celebrate myself is a direct result of my work on a self-mothering practice.
My yoga teachers and my yoga training forced me to look inward and a self-mothering practice was nowhere to be found.
My yoga teachers and my yoga training forced me to look inward and a self-mothering practice was nowhere to be found. As I work through a miscarriage, hormonal issues, and fertility issues, I recognized that I needed a practice of self-mothering. Despite having the best mom to teach me about how to mother, I never put those teachings to work on myself. It’s SO MUCH easier to celebrate others, to give to others, to care for others than it is to turn that inward. Can you relate? Self-mothering takes energy, focus, and is uncomfortable (at least at first).
Throughout my yoga training, I learned what it means to and how to mother myself – to treat myself and to talk to myself with kindness and appreciate all that my body and mind do for me.
Self-mothering can be seen as a type of self-care. Self-care is deliberate action around our physical, emotional, relational, professional, educational and/or spiritual well-being. The image I have of self-care now is directly associated with Instagram posts with #selfcare: the act of putting on face mask, taking a relaxing bath, getting a massage, and going to a workout class, etc. These are all amazing practices, but self-mothering is different.
Self-mothering involves deeply nurturing ourselves physically, emotionally and even spiritually, and connecting with our femininity and to Mother Earth, the ultimate mother.
Self-mothering involves deeply nurturing ourselves physically, emotionally and even spiritually, and connecting with our femininity and to Mother Earth, the ultimate mother. (One reason that this practice really stuck with me was that it requires that we regain a connection to our environment). It’s a form of radical self-love, a practice of holding space for ourselves to be and to grow. When we are growing up, no matter how amazing our mothers were, we all experienced abandonment and disappointment at some time and on some level. Those memories and emotions stay with us until we are ready to dive back inward and deeply nurture ourselves. They can live in our unconscious and effect us without us even knowing.
Self-mothering is a form of radical self-love.
It can seem overwhelming and daunting to begin such a practice as it’s hard enough for us to practice any self-love, let alone radical self-love! I get it. But I challenge you to give this practice a chance. Especially if you, like me, are on a fertility journey that proves more stressful than anticipated. Cultivating a motherly practice and proactively stepping into the role of a mother is empowering. It’s something we can do when so much of the process of becoming a mother is dictated by doctors and other healthcare practitioners. It feels really good to take control of something and see where it takes you.
I’m learning about self-mothering just like you and still figuring out exactly what it means and how the practice fits into my life is a daily conversation. To jumpstart your self-mothering journey, below are 5 ways to cultivate a self-mothering practice.
5 WAYS TO CULTIVATE A SELF-MOTHERING PRACTICE:
Foster a daily gratitude practice. Write down at least 1 thing you are grateful for each day. Use specifics and capture sensations and feelings and any other insights that come up. This helps us imprint these joyful feelings into our cells and helps to rewire the brain away from self-criticism/judgment. Isn’t it convenient that by practicing gratitude, we can simultaneously self-mother ourselves AND acknowledge those who love us and mother us in one way or another.
Self-mothering meditation. You can use a guided meditation or sit with yourself, tune into your body, connect with yourself through breath. Send yourself deep love; do a body scan and send love to each body part one by one, paying particular attention to your womb. Start with 5 minutes and build up to 10-15 minutes. Jody Shield has my favorite self-mothering meditation available through her Tribe Tonic membership program.
Connect to the Earth. Find inspiration and joy in nature. Go on a nature walk without your phone, without listening to a podcast, and take it all in. Listen to the leaves blowing in the wind and the birds chirping and look at all the colors that surround us. Take in all in with deep breaths.
Nourish yourself. Make a list of all the things that nourish you, and not just nutrient dense food (although that is deeply nourishing). It can be taking a 10 minute walk after lunch, doing a meditation, talking on the phone with a close friend or family member, reading a good book, or taking your favorite yoga class. All of these activities are deeply nourishing for our bodies and our souls. We must schedule these activities into our lives.
Remember and relive those moments when you experience motherly love. Whether you felt this love from your mother or someone else, tap into the memories of those experiences. How did that feel? What did someone do to make you feel mothered? Close your eyes, place your hand on your heart and recall those moments. Relive those moments to remind yourself of how it feels to be mothered and then you can send that calming, loving, supportive energy to yourself from yourself.
If you have any questions about self-mothering or want to talk about your journey (fertility or health or low waste related), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here for you. xo