Meditation for Mamas: Creating calm oases in everyday life‘s chaos
An Interview with Katrin Michel
Meditation TEACHER & WRITER
With her books, meditations and coachings, Katrin Michel addresses all self-confident mamas that find great importance in staying mindful, well and relaxed in everyday life. With hypnobirthing and yoga classes, Katrin offers a varied programme in Hamburg to accompany women during pregnancy and beyond, offering them a safe haven during this time.
Not only is Katrin Michel a writer, coach and meditation teacher – she is also a mum of three boys and knows exactly how stressful everyday life can get for mums. That's why she has found a way for herself to create little calm oases to meditate and recharge in the midst of everyday life‘s chaos with children and mountains of laundry. With her books, classes and coachings, she wants to encourage other mothers to do the same – not to forget or neglect themselves, to take themselves seriously in order to not get crushed by the burdens of everyday life.
How did you get into meditation and what does your routine as a mum of three look like?
Katrin: Life as a mum has turned my everyday life upside down. Suddenly life is no longer about your own needs only, but you are fully responsible for another person. It happens quickly that you give up on yourself and lose your way. But does that necessarily have to be the case? For me, I have found that I can be a balanced mum if I take enough care of myself. This means that I realise what my needs are and that I take time for myself. I create little calm islands in my everyday life, that help me find and keep my strength. Meditation practice has been part of this for a long time. It doesn't have to be 30 minutes in a quiet room, sitting motionless on a meditation cushion. To me, meditation simply means, pausing for a moment and coming to rest while chaos is around me. Because what I've learned as a mum of three is that the calm is inside me, no matter if my boys are loudly commenting on a football match, the laundry piles up to the ceiling and ten emails need to be answered. I have come to appreciate meditation as a tool I can fall back on for daily mental hygiene. Just like brushing your teeth. After all, you do that every day without asking whether you really have time for it. And it's the same with meditation. I have experienced how much positivity it brings into my life, how much balance and peace. That's exactly what I can pass on to my boys. Once you have experienced what it gives to you, the question if you have time for it no longer matters. Because you are motivated and just do it.
Meditationen für Mamas
Islands of calm for mothers: In her book, Katrin Michel shows how mothers can find peace with meditations that are easy to integrate into everyday life as a mother.
Just 3 minutes a day is enough to get calm. In your book, you compare that with brushing your teeth, you always make time for that, no matter how tired you are or whether your child is feverish. Why is mental care so much harder to integrate into everyday life?
Katrin: I believe that we learn how to brush our teeth from an early age. Mental hygiene, however, we do not learn. We live in a society where values like "faster, further, higher" are highly valued. Performance gets acknowledged, and that is why we often strive for this success precisely. What we ourselves really want and what we need to feel well often doesn't matter. That's why we restrain and, for example, do not take the time to meditate. Keeping busy with yourself sometimes seems too exhausting. Especially as a mum, you have a busy everyday life and a lot of organisational things to do. I know this only too well from myself, that the mental load sometimes almost crushes you. But it is all the more important that we create a balance for ourselves, that we put ourselves in the centre for once, and that is not the least bit selfish. We may allow ourselves to do something nice for ourselves! It is this permission that we are allowed to give ourselves as mamas. And suddenly it's no longer a question of integrating ourselves into everyday life. When we recognise for ourselves that we are important and that being a good mother to ourselves is a priority, then we find the window of opportunity for five minutes a day.
To stay with brushing your teeth: You can do that on the side, even in the busiest of times. But I can't sit down in the middle of mountains of laundry and Lego pieces to meditate and switch off. Do you have a tip for blocking out family chaos and taking time for yourself?
Katrin: I think that time-out will never come to our door and say, "Now you have ten minutes just for you!". There will never be that moment. That's why it's our own responsibility to take that time out. There will always be the pile of laundry, the dishwasher and the important phone call, but we should be important enough to ourselves that we can put that aside for once. And without a guilty conscience. For example, I often find that if I take a short time out, everything is much, much easier afterwards. One trick I like to do is to take on a small part of the chaos, such as the pile of laundry. I complete this one task and this way, create order in a fraction of my flat. And in that space is where I then meditate. What has also helped me is that I have replaced the word "order" with "creative chaos". Humour always helps, and it's good to see the perfect in the imperfect. And this is where practice makes perfect!
In difficult times – such as the current pandemic – you should actually plan more time for breaks, but often the exact opposite happens. What were your experiences last year?
Katrin: The last year has been extremely challenging and almost every day has been a borderline experience. For me, I have found over and over again that I should not do too many tasks in one day. That stirs up expectations that I usually can't meet, and dissatisfaction results from that. Homeschooling, taking care of a toddler, household and work, trying to juggle it all puts a lot of strain on you, and at some point you run out of energy. That's why I try to take the pressure off myself. Acknowledging myself for what I accomplish every day and finding words of praise instead of putting myself down for what I didn't manage to do, that helps me a lot. It doesn't mean I always get it done, but again, I'm proud of every single time I do get it done. For me, the mantra "All in due time" has given me a lot of strength and often shifted my focus to what is really important: my family. This also means that I continue to take time out for myself, and here in particular it is not an exclusion to have children. They perceive that you take care of yourself, and that's exactly what I want to pass on to them, even in such a difficult time. What we exemplify, our children imitate, and being an authentic role model is important to me. So the pandemic can also be seen as an opportunity, and maybe it's the icing on the cake that we need to finally start taking care of ourselves.
Why is meditation especially important for mothers, how can it help in everyday life?
Katrin: Everyday life as a mum is very demanding. I experience it like I am on standby non-stop. There are hardly any moments when there is no child wanting something from me and everyone is satisfied. I feel like I'm constantly "on" like an electronic device, and even when I'm not "on" I'm in standby mode. It's incredibly energy draining. Meditation is my way of shutting down, and all I really need is a few minutes. Even breathing consciously can put me in a state of complete calm. In my everyday life, I need this time to recharge my batteries or to get exactly what I need. Be it self-love, patience, lightness or simply a break. After meditation it is like a new start and I can cope with the tasks that are waiting for me with more energy.
Cover Image © Eila Lifflander / Portrait © Romy Geßner