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From Chaos to Center

By Michele Dortch, The Integrated Mother

Are you in a constant state of motion?

Is it hard for you to sit still and do nothing for more than a few moments? If so, you're not alone. There is at least one other person like you - me. And my guess is that most all working moms can understand what it's like to be in constant and perpetual motion, spinning about in a flurry of activity. It's uncomfortable to be still; you feel like you're not being productive. You always have hundreds of things you could be doing, so why would you waste time doing nothing?

Interestingly, stillness is a very effective way of living and it certainly isn't the act of doing nothing. On the other hand, getting caught up in the tension and distraction of ordinary activities causes you to burn up energy that results in getting nothing of real importance accomplished.

Integrated mothers live from their center and thrive from stillness.

When you feel trapped by an endless list of to-do's, I'm sure the last bit of advice you want to hear is, "be still." You want instant relief from the pressure of life and often seek relief from doing more. Stillness can bring instant relief in the form of mental peace, inner stability and overall relaxation. These are all elements necessary for you to be more productive, effective and balanced.

When you live and work from a place of centered mindfulness you will experience a profound sense of balance and peace. You'll benefit from a mental clarity that allows you to get things done with less effort - really. These elements are essential in balancing the intensity, stress and change in your busy life.

I'll be the first to admit how difficult it can be to sit peacefully and reconnect with your center. I tend to default to doing more when I feel overwhelmed or stressed. Nevertheless, I try to meditate for 15 minutes daily. I'm by no means a meditation expert but I am definitely an expert in trying. Usually I feel so distracted that I end up stopping and then go about completing a chore that's been bugging me (like unfolded clothes) or I'll fall asleep in the peacefulness of the quiet (because I'm usually pretty exhausted).

But every now and then I find my "sweet spot where I am free to enjoy the quiet, peacefulness of my center. When I get there I've experienced amazing benefits:

-- Resiliency to change and adversity

-- Confidence and inner strength

-- Heightened insight and intuition

-- Better focus and concentration

-- Clearer thinking and decision making

-- Peace of mind and flow

Your center is a still point to which you can return to when the chaos of working motherhood sets in. It gives you clarity, calms your spirit and focuses your mind so you make better choices, regain control of your life and feel a stronger sense of balance.

Living from your center requires that you be fully present.

We often live in the remembrance of what once was, or the possibility of what might be. It's rare to fully experience the present moment.

Part of the problem is that you may believe the present is imperfect. When you are constantly analyzing the past or leaping into the future, it's difficult to see how perfect and wonderful the present really is. You may be thinking, "But my life really does need improvement." And this is a common conundrum. When you are present you may begin to notice areas where things could be better, so you automatically think about what caused this (the past) and how to fix it (the future).

Here's the thing"perfect doesn't mean preferred, desirable or fair. While the present may not be exactly what you want, or need it to be, it's still perfect because it's all you have. You can't change the past; you can learn from it. You can't decide the future; you can do things to shape it. You can't escape the present; you can enjoy and savor it.

Practical Application

Whenever I'm caught in a spiral of chaos or stress, two techniques have allowed me to return to center and respond to the situation in a more proactive manner - the belly breath and the body relaxation scan. These techniques are often found in the practice of yoga, tai chi, or meditation.

Belly Breathing is a simple method of relaxation that can be done anywhere, anytime.

1. Sit or stand with your hands on your stomach.

2. Inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach expand.

3. Hold this breath for a few seconds.

4. Then exhale as slowly as possible through your nose.

5. Repeat steps 1 - 4 three or four times.

The Body Relaxation Scan is a calming relaxation technique that involves gently tightening your muscles and then releasing the tension in them. During the exercise you will move progressively around your body, for example, from head to toe or toe to head.

1. Choose a comfortable, quiet place where you can sit or lie on your back.

2. Focus your mind on a part of your body such as your foot.

3. While inhaling, tense the muscles in your foot and hold for 5 seconds; then slowly relax the foot as you exhale and let the stress flow from your body.

4. Continue this process as you move up the leg to the calf and thigh, over to the other foot and leg, and then to the buttocks, abdomen, each arm, shoulders, neck, face and scalp.

This process takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and will leave you feeling relaxed all over. If you're short on time, then break the exercise into several short segments. Even a small moment of relaxation counts.

About The Author
Michele Dortch is the Founder of The Integrated Mother, a nationwide coaching and personal development company providing work+life solutions for working mothers and their employers.

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