How to Connect with Flow State in Motherhood
“The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back.” -Ram Dass
Motherhood requires my full attention, it can be over consuming and isolating or magical and healing. I can either fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself or dive into a wondrous flow state. The choice is always up to me. The way I perceive and engage with the present moment is what makes the difference between heaven and hell.
When my 19 month-old toddler is running around, there’s no such thing as taking breaks. I sometimes catch myself resisting to fully merge with my reality of caretaking for him with zero me time, especially when I’m tired. That’s when I realized how conditioned I am in regards to my distractions. When I’ve had enough of taking care of him for a day, the first thing I want to do is to reach for my phone. I feel this deep desire to browse through social media, or do some online shopping, or just go down a rabbit hole of research. Has A.I. conditioned me to pay more attention to what’s going on out there than to what’s happening over here?
Maybe. Or, maybe being distracted is a cultivated habit and A.I. is just filling in the blanks. Either way, what I’ve learned is that my reality becomes softer and more beautiful when I relax into the moment. In other words, I let go of resistance and commit to being fully there. Sometimes I just have to say to myself, “You are here now, so just fully engage.”
Regardless of my inner pep talk, sometimes my mind still wants to escape -- especially when Jasper is acting out. It wants to go back to a reality that is only mine. It resists being a caretaker and doing everything he wants and needs. As I watch my mind resisting, craving, and begging, just like an addict, I go back to my awareness teachings. I sense the space between myself and my automated, non-constructive habits. I mind the gap between consciousness and my ego related cravings, and I pause.
As I pause and observe, I catch myself falling into mindless traps such as overchecking my phone, daydreaming, and craving for food just to name a few. I bring my awareness back to my body. Sometimes I sense my feet on the ground and wiggle my toes, or I notice my jaw and allow it to be easy. There are infinite ways to bring the awareness back to the body and to the present moment. I exhale the doing, striving and trying, and come back to giving Jasper my full attention, while staying in the moment.
As I allow myself to intertwine with the moment, the easier life gets. My cravings and distractions disappear. I can look straight into my son’s eyes and give him my 100%. He takes me by the hand to his toddler reality, which is nothing other than extraordinary. All of a sudden, I’m in a flow state.
In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
It’s like him and I are dancing to the same beat, to the same melody. Suffering there was goes away and time slows down. In these moments, I get to know my little guy. I hear his desires whether he can express them or not. I learn his language and I give him what he wants and needs, and I still manage to keep myself as the leader.
Here is an example:
When I change his diaper, I ask for his help. I say, “Jasper, open your legs.” He opens his legs as I tell him that I’m going to clean him up, and he lets me. Then I say goodbye to his old diaper, and he does the same. I ask him to lift his butt so I can replace the fresh diaper, and he does it. I keep the interaction going, and together we are moving through every moment.
I noticed that by including him in my tasks, he doesn’t run away. Instead, he’s happy to participate. The same happens when I put on his shoes. I ask him to raise his foot, and he goes for it. I’m always surprised by how much he wants to participate, if only given the chance.
As I ground him in the now by bringing him into my field of awareness, I help him to become aware of what we are doing together. Instead of running after him, we are doing this thing called life together, which leads to more flow, connection, and fun times. Any surrounding distraction evaporates, and most importantly, him and I become one.
Here are 5 steps you can take to connect with flow state in motherhood:
- Be aware of what’s happening in your mind. You can slow it down by taking long breaths. This will soothe your mind and open the space for creating flow.
- Make a conscious effort to live in the moment. When your mind wonders, bring it back to the now by exhaling whatever is moving through you. Let it out. You can then connect to your body by bringing some awareness to your feet and toes.
- Deliberately perform a task while paying full attention to it. For example, if you are bathing your baby, give it your full attention. Notice the sounds of the water, the colors in the bathtub, your baby’s experience, and still keep some of your awareness in yourself. How easy is your body as you perform this activity? Is your weight evenly dispersed on your legs? Are you collapsing your back? Be mindful of yourself in space.
- When you get frustrated, feel how tension spreads through your muscles and how your breathing changes. Allow your body to relax as you move through what bothers you. Think of it as a meditation, but in constant motion.
- Remain vigilant and continue your mindful practice. When your attention slips off, bring it back to your body, your space, and your child. Stay engaged and mindful of your distractions. Allow yourself to outgrow your distractions and find the next level of flow.
You can do this too mama, just snap out of the suffering by noticing your breathing and creating a gap between each breath. Once you do this you can notice your body and find flow.
Edited by: Lily Zara