Dr Sherylin Thompson is a chartered counselling psychologist. She trained as a mindfulness teacher at Bangor University. Sherylin founded The BeingWell, which offers mindfulness courses for the public and staff training to organisations.
Celebrating motherhood links us to wonderful human qualities of care, commitment, attentiveness and love. On Mother’s Day, we thank our mothers for the gentle, steadfast and nourishing presence we needed since birth to flourish. We may struggle to find the words or gift to really put across our gratitude. Often, the most generous and memorable gift can just simply spending time together in a certain way. In other words, it might not be your present that matters, but your presence!
Below are five top tips on how to be more present for an in-the-moment mindful Mother’s Day.
1. It is the experience, not the expense
It is experiences with our loved ones, not possessions that matter. The expense of a gift is much less important than the quality of time that we give. Many psychologists believe that happiness is in the content of moments and not in material goods. People remember emotions and it is activities that stimulate longer-lasting good feelings than things. Even a simple walk or soaking in the atmosphere in a place of natural beauty could make a much more enduring impression in your mother’s mind than a costly object.
2. Let go of expectations
Try to let go of any expectation for the day to be just perfect. It will be much more natural, relaxing and memorable if you can allow yourself and your mother be just as you both are. Also, let the day unfold without trying too hard for it to be a certain way. Do some light planning and then open up to the subtle surprises the day will naturally give you.
3. Be present and attentive
Try not to fill each moment with conversation or to pack too much in. You will both benefit to slow down and savour whatever is around you. Open up to your senses and take in the sights, sounds, feelings inside and around your body, flavours and aromas of the day. Come to the real in-the-moment and feel a sense of an experience allows us to truly absorb and benefit from what it has to offer.
Generosity is not in buying an expensive gift but to be open-hearted. It is far more generous to show your mother genuine curiosity and interest in whatever matters to her. Give her more ‘air-time’ this Mothering Sunday to ask her more about her past, interests, aspirations and life in general. Even if you have heard it all before, see if you can bring a fresh interest as if it is the first time she is telling you the stories. Gently invite her to say more and you may well learn so much more about your mother than you thought you might.
5. Body language and breathing
If you find yourself caught up in worrying if your mother is having a good enough day, or notice that you are planning too much or that your mind keeps wandering from the felt experience of the day or the conversation… see if you can centre your attention on your body posture and breathing. If you can be aware of the body and breath, you are more in the moment. Check for any tensing muscles, tightness, the rhythm and depth of the breath. This will help you ‘ground’ your focus again so that you can be more present.
Bringing mindfulness to our relationships with loved ones can help us cultivate deeper connections with less reactivity to conflict. Bringing mindfulness to how we relate helps the other person respond more openly to you too. It is a great gift for the other to have your presence, and the chances are, you will benefit too.