For many of us, practicing “mindfulness” can feel like an abstract luxury. What does it really mean to be a mindful mother?
Today, we have Sarah Gyampoh, an expert and author on the topic. She is breaking down what being mindful really means and why we all need to experience this in our lives.
Mindful mothering is an internal practice of presence and connection. It is only when we regulate ourselves that we are able to do the same for our children and families.
Where to find Sarah Gyampoh:
In this episode, we are sharing:
What mindful motherhood really means
Finding presence and the process of reacting vs responding
Sarah’s 4 pillars of being a mindful mom
Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast where we support you and your provider in understanding the science, the art, and the sacredness of healing after birth. I’m Maranda Bower, your host, your postpartum nutrition specialist, and homesteading mom with four wild kids. It’s time to get you the holistic, whole-body healing that works.
Maranda: Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast. I’m Maranda Bower, and I have here Sarah Gyampoh. She has a master’s degree in social work and is certified in both fertility and prenatal yoga. She’s a mother of five. She’s the creator of Transcendent Birth, which is a yoga-based trial class and the author of The Mindful Mother’s Way and Mommy’s Deep Breath, both of which I own and have since they first came out years ago. And I’m just so, so honored, Sarah, to have you here. Tell everyone, how did you get started in this work?
Sarah: Sure. Well, first of all, thank you, Maranda, for having me. I’m really happy to be here and that we’re having this conversation. So how did I get started? I’ll try to give the short version of the work. So while I was in grad school for social work, I got pregnant and I realized that becoming a mother was something so sacred, like being pregnant was so special and sacred and then giving birth and raising children. And let me rewind a little before grad school, I had been exposed to yoga during my Peace Corps service. And I was like, wow, there is really something to this. There’s something that soothes the mind, body, emotions, spirit, all of it. So then while I was in grad school, I was practicing yoga and then became pregnant and wanted to continue to practice yoga and all. To serve as a yoga instructor. So I took yoga teacher training in a therapeutic style to combine with my social work degree and counseling. And then when my firstborn was about one and a half, I think I started prenatal yoga training. And that was so awesome. And then it kind of just has all blossomed from the foundation of really honoring how special it is to work on conceiving and to be pregnant and to give birth and to be a mother.
Maranda: Ah, this is so beautiful. I will tell you, I really want to touch base on your mindfulness and motherhood. And I feel like, you know, this has been going around for years about 10 years ago I actually started my very first Program ever and it was called mindful mothers. It was absolutely amazing and really I think from there it kind of just blossomed into what I have now. But I’m seeing so much information out there about Mindfulness and motherhood. What is that? What is that? What does that even mean?
Sarah: So I think everybody kind of has their own views on what it means to be mindful and to be a mom. For me, it’s always honoring where you are and noticing how you’re feeling during, you know, the beautiful parts of your day with your child or children and also the more challenging parts because we know raising your child, raising your children at least for me has exposed me to parts of myself that I maybe hadn’t been in tune with for a long time like when I would get stressed or angry or parts of my being that had kind of been dormant until I was a mom and you know feeling overwhelmed with all the pressure of trying to be the perfect mom and just everything that comes along with being a mom so So to wrap it in a nice pretty bow, I would say it’s just being very conscious and aware of what’s happening in your inner environment and how you are either reacting or responding to what’s happening in your outer environment.
Maranda: And this is so good. And I’m hoping that you can share a little bit about why, why is this even important, right? Because there’s so much on our plates and now we have to be mindful about everything. I know that when I really started my own journey, the whole idea of it felt really overwhelming.
Sarah: Well, I think that, yes, there’s this image of if you’re being mindful that you’re sitting on a meditation cushion and you’re, you know, being as like a monk in your daily life, but I think how it serves moms best through what I’ve seen with my work is, let’s be honest, since the pandemic, especially, we’re stressed out, you know, and now it’s things with the economy and the climate. And, you know, there are all these things that we’re always being bombarded with. And it’s, it can be very stressful and overwhelming. And it takes us away from being present with Ourselves and with our child or children. So for me, it’s about making it simple simple things that you can do and it can be as simple as Taking five deep breaths while you’re washing the dishes and your children are throwing spaghetti noodles at each other and just reconnecting with yourselves So that you know when you go and you see the mess you don’t go in what I call the mommy monster mode, where you’re just like reacting because you’re stressed and you’re overwhelmed and, you know, your plate is already full and now you have to clean up all this mess that your children have made so that you can say, okay, I’m not thrilled that I have to clean up this mess, but it’s not worth it to work myself up over cleaning up the mess.
Maranda: If you’re a birth and postpartum professional who wants to give the families you serve some solid holistic evidence-based information regarding nutrition, repletion, and nourishing your body after baby, this is for you. I have 18 beautiful pages in a handout form that is completely free. Free full guide to nutrition completion, common misconceptions, supplement support, support, favorite recipes, 30 healthy and quick snacks, and so many more. You can download your free collection with handouts at postpartumU, that’s the letter U.com/handouts. I’m so glad that you mentioned this because I feel like there are a ton of these misconceptions about mindfulness, right? That you have to be the monk or you have to be sitting, you know, on your little stool or whatever, and you have to be having a clear mind. I hear that all the time, but how in the world can I have a clear mind? Or that even being mindful is to be self-absorbed. I hear that one a lot. If I’m so mindful, then how can I be connected with my children? But the reality is, is that it’s kind of the opposite. The more mindful that we are and aware of our own selves and able to kind of step back and watch and observe, the more that we can witness and the more that we can engage, not only with ourself and our own needs, but also with our children. Would you say that’s accurate?
Sarah: A thousand percent because if we can’t hold space for our own big emotions right like stress and anger and fear and we can even get into anxiety and depression and you know if we’re sitting in ourselves and we’re saying oh I shouldn’t be feeling this way this is terrible and we’re not honoring how we’re truly feeling how can can we show up for our children in a way that honors them as a complete package that feels every emotion possible, the full rainbow of emotions, because every human experiences the full rainbow of emotions, right? And when we can hold that space for ourselves and recognize it and say, okay, this part of me really needs some love. And for you, that could be going into the bathroom and washing your face or taking five deep breaths or going for a short walk, like bundling up the kids or getting the kids ready and going outside or taking a walk by yourself or telling your partner, “Hey, I need a break for five minutes.” It’s being able to acknowledge your own needs. And when you do that and you get used to doing that, then you’re able to do that for your children in a responsive way. Like, okay, this, my child is having a hard time today. Like, we all get grumpy, right? Like, we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and we’re trying our best to, you know, quote unquote, snap out of it. And sometimes it’s just not that simple, sometimes there’s something deeper going on that we need to process. And when we’re able to work through those things within our we’re able to work through them with our children and give them the guidance and support that they need.
Maranda: Yes, it’s like really being in tune and aware of our own emotions so that we can therefore help our children do the same, right? And we talk all the time about how our children need that co-regulation from us, right? Their nervous systems need our nervous systems in order to to understand that peace and that calmness, right? They require that. And we so forget ourselves. Like as adults, I was actually just reading some science journals for my upcoming book on co-regulation for adults. And we forget that we need this too. Like it’s not just for our children, it’s for us. So we have to experience that mindfulness and really understand where we’re coming from and how to support ourselves so that we can be so much more in tune, really supportive of ourselves and our needs, experience less of that anxiety and depression and even physical symptoms, and do the same for our children. It’s like a win-win situation. Really, right, right. Okay, right. So how do we do this? How do we practice mindfulness as a busy moment? I know you gave us a little bit and a couple of different scenarios, but I’d love to hear more I mean you have a whole Juicy book on this topic So I think we have to start with ourselves So the book has four pillars to to what it means to be a mindful mom. And the first is sacred being, like being with yourself, connecting with yourself, making sure you’re meeting your needs as best you can, and however that looks for whichever stage of motherhood you are in. The second is open-hearted relationships. So it’s being honest with yourself, with your partner, if you have one with your children. children about what’s going on and also for them to feel safe to share with you open and honestly what’s going on with them. The third part is mindful movement. So we know that there’s an energetic part of our being. And so for me, I found that when I practice yoga and breath work and mood.
Sarah: And really move energy around my body, that I’m able to release emotions or tension or whatever I’m trying to tune into. I can also cultivate a practice that helps to tune into those things as well. And the fourth part, which is your specialty, is the nutrition, right? It’s food for the soul. How are we nourishing ourselves and part of that is you know mentally and spiritually and emotionally and a big part of that is also what we are putting into our body to nourish the engine right to keep ourselves going and you know making sure we’re getting the proper vitamins and nutrients and minerals and proteins and just all of it to help make sure we’re functioning at optimal performance and I would add sleep to this too because you know it’s hard sometimes as a mom especially with young children new babies to get sleep but to honor the need for rest and sleep.
Maranda: This is so so good I am so grateful that you are here sharing this information and truly like when you dive deeper into your books you have it every laid out where can people find you and your books?
Sarah: Sure so my the ebook is which is Mommy’s Deep Breath which was the first version before it became a paperback book The Mindful Mother’s Way is only available to purchase on my website which is my name sarahGyampoh.com and I’m sure you’ll include it somewhere so I don’t have to spell it.
Maranda: Oh yes, it’ll be in the show notes. You definitely want the show notes to spell our last name. Yes, for certain. And also the paperback book The Mindful Mother’s Way is available in ebook format and also paperback on Amazon. And I think Barnes and Noble has it online and I’ve seen some other online retailers do sell it. I’m so grateful for you. Thank you so, so much for sharing your wisdom.
Sarah: I really wanted you here to kind of break some of those stigmas around mindfulness, around, you know, what it means to be that way. And then just kind of give us some examples so that we can truly take it to the next level. And if you’re listening in, you’re like, I need more of that in my life. I, you know, you now have an understanding of the benefits of that. Seriously, go pick up Sarah’s book. She lays it all out. I used your book. I mean, your books are several years old now, right?
Sarah: Yeah, yes they are.
Maranda: Which kid did I use it with?
Sarah: Well, it’s about four years. Since the paperback was published.
Maranda: Okay, so that I would have used in my life with my last baby. No, it was the baby before. And I believe I was about two or three years postpartum. And we had met and you sent that over to me, one of the original one, I believe. And I fell in love. And it was just so, so helpful. I kept it on my desk for months. So anyway, if you’re listening and get her book, I so, so highly recommend it. Thank you again so much, Sarah, for your wisdom and sharing all of this with us.
Sarah: Thank you, Maranda, for having me.
Maranda: Love this episode. Let us know by leaving an amazing review. Your support is everything. Want more? Head over to postpartumu.com. That’s postpartum, theletteru.com, and explore how we support moms like you in holistic whole body healing that’s specific for the unique needs of mamas in the years postpartum. See you there.
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