Mindfulness is the practice of focusing our attention, through the senses, on the present moment. Every day, I take a moment on my way to work to appreciate this beautiful spot on Marriots Way, noticing the changes in season, in light, appreciating the peace and beauty of the moment. This morning, it was particularly beautiful. For the first time in a while, I was able to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face as it bounced off the water. After months of riding to work in semi-darkness, I reveled in the twitter of birds and the still promise of the day to come, before cycling on.
With the fast pace of modern life, our focus is often on the next thing: what we need to do when we get to work, what we need to get from the shop later, what we are going to say to that person who upset us earlier, and when we arrive in those much anticipated moments, we have probably already shifted our focus to another possible future moment.
Now, that’s not always a bad thing. If you are embroiled in a mundane task or an unpleasant situation then daydreaming about something nice that you have planned is a great idea. Equally, there are lessons to be learned from reflecting – for a reasonable time – on the past.
What I’m talking about is being mindful of those little pleasures: the taste and smell of your morning coffee; the moments you have with people you value; a beautiful or interesting scene.
Don’t be the scout in your own life, running on ahead to make plans for events that you will never fully experience, and don’t be the curator of your own museum settling among the dust to pour over old memories without creating new ones.
I have often been guilty of being the scout. In the past high levels of anxiety led me to make elaborate plans and then hurtle into them too fixated on the goal to enjoy what was going on around me. I call this the Screw Ball Effect. Do you remember those ice-creams? They had a cone with a piece of bubble gum at the bottom. I loved them as a kid but I would always guzzle them down to get to the bubble gum – which, by the way, was awful.
Mindful moments are where we truly live; they sooth and settle our minds and bodies. Mindfulness meditation has been proven to have long-term beneficial effects for people diagnosed with anxiety disorders. As a Fertile Body Method Therapist, and in my own work with people learning to manage stress and anxiety, I teach mindfulness as a self-help tool to help people reconnect with their lives, which, in turn, reduces their stress levels.
But could Mindfulness boost your fertility? A recent study by Fertility and Sterility set out to see if women who were randomized to a mind/body program before starting their first IVF cycle would have higher pregnancy rates than control subjects. Although results for the first cycle of IVF were largely the same, the results of the second round were 20% for the control group and 52% for the group attending the mind/body sessions.
So how does taking time to absorb a beautiful moment help you to get pregnant? Simply put, by resetting your autonomic nervous system – the fight or flight response. While we exist in fight or flight mode, our body is primed for fighting, or running and so on, and energy is diverted from other systems in our body, such as digesting, general repair and fertility.
So I urge you: find the beautiful moments in your day and be fully there for them.
Kerry Dolan teaches private 1-1 and group HypnoFertility classes at the Orange Grove Clinic in Norwich. She also runs regular Hypnobirthing classes. To sign up for our next series of hypnobirthing classes please visit our shop.