Feeling All The Mama Feels

Can I go Here and come back whole? I ask myself as I put my fingers to the keyboard this morning. It’s so easy to become lost in thought. Especially for a girl who hides from emotion. Or a girl who hid from emotion. A girl who doesn’t hide from feelings anymore… yet doesn’t particularly care for excessive feeling either. Still.

Perhaps, after months of write-free sabatical, and an exploration into integrative wellness from the other side of the table (as a coach-in-training), I can be Here and return into my sweet little world whole.

Let’s give it a try.

Today, I want to talk to you about these emotions I’ve been burying for years and years (and years). Today, I want to be brave enough to tell you that you are not alone if you have had big, scary emotions begin to rise up – and then you completely freaked the freak out (with or without knowing it). Today, I want to be brave enough to share this space with you. Because maybe, just maybe, if we share this space it will be easier to tell you about Jamie. And maybe it will be easier to tell you about growing into an emotional being, too.

Jamie was the first mother that I chose a relationship with shortly after becoming a mother myself. My peers didn’t have kids, especially sick ones, and I was crawling out of my skin most days pretending to be someone I wasn’t… yet. But in those conversations with Jamie – a friend and employee at my day job – I wasn’t pretending. I could tell her about the sleepless nights and the worry. She held a space for me. And in return, I held one for her. Our sons were only two weeks apart in age, and we could connect on so many different experiences. Including this one: Jamie lived with a physical dysfunction that was wreaking havoc on her life. That dysfunction took her from our beautiful world five years ago today.

That experience that we connected on has absolutely wreaked havoc on my life too. And five years ago, I had just recovered from an autoimmune crash and back injury. I was teaching yoga, contemplating leaving my job in veterinary medicine, and feeling nothing (still). My son was 20 months old, and I was completely disconnected. But on the day that Jamie passed away, I felt something for the first time since becoming a mom. I felt something real and raw and vulnerable. And it wasn’t fear – quite possibly the only thing that I had been feeling for quite some time. What I felt was one of the deepest sadnesses that I have ever known. And, home alone with my little boy when I received the news, I felt one of the deepest loves that I have ever known too. My mild child sat upon my lap as I crumbled that day. He sat upon my lap and he wiped away each and every tear that fell.

The little boy that I didn’t know how to love, loved me. I can’t put this experience into any more words than this. At least not today.

Flash forward through the next year, and slowly but surely more emotions bubbled up to the surface. And of course, one by one, I pushed them back down. When I became pregnant with our second baby, I decided immediately it should be a boy again. I was raised to believe that boys were less emotional. Which would obviously make life much easier for me!

feelings
This little boy might be the most emotional being I’ve ever met. He breaks down gender stereotypes daily. And I love it.

But alas, God’s hand placed me on a healing path – and that second miracle child ended up being a sweet (and wild) little girl. Not only did I begin to learn emotion through her, but I learned that all people have emotion through having her. Emotion isn’t just a girl or woman thing. It’s a people thing. (And it is safe to have them.) I’ve seen the emotion of a little boy learning to grow into a relationship with a lost mama bear; and then watched his emotions expand and contract as he learns to grow into relationship with a special needs sister. I’ve seen the emotion of a man who almost lost his father. I’ve seen the emotion of a child lost in her world. I’ve seen my emotions twist and turn and churn and bubble up through it all.

And while I don’t love the idea of being so hugely vulnerable as to feel all the feels all the time, I do feel a lot of feels a lot of the time now. Feels that don’t pull me down into a deep dark hole, but inspire me to lift someone else out of theirs.

How do you live in your emotional body? Does it feel good and safe to you? I would love to know.

To Jamie – thank you for being on my heart daily. You remind me always that being present means being grateful for all of the gifts that Papa has given me.

xox

Mama J.

 

Green Muffins

I awoke this morning in a profound state of love. For those of you who know me, or read my blog, you may think that this is often the case. It’s not. I – just like most other human beings “doing” life instead of “being” in life – get caught up in the great struggle of love versus fear. And I’m not ashamed of saying it! I am human. So are you.

As a mother and wife with chronic pain, and an autoimmune disharmony, my greatest challenge arises from an unnecessary sadness and discontent with “what is.” Note the word unnecessary. It’s all a part of my path and God’s plan. Embracing that with love, drives out the fear (of the unknown, the pain, and the potential difficulties that may be ahead in the day).

Something that helps me to embrace it all (life and motherhood) with love, are simple acts of self-nurture. This weekend I wrapped away my worries with a plant-based body wrap. And yesterday I made delicious little kale muffins. I ate one for breakfast with sunflower seed butter this morning.

Green Muffins

  • 2 cups garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 white onion
  • 12 dates
  • 4 cups of kale
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • rice milk (or another vegan milk source)

Preset oven to 350. Add the dry ingredients together, one-by-one, and pulse in your food processor. Slowly add milk until the contents have a batter consistency. Oil a muffin tin with coconut oil, and fill each mold 3/4 way to full. Bake for 20-25 minutes (average sized muffins). Reduce time by almost half if making mini muffins. To check if done, poke with a knife. When knife is clean, muffins are perfect.

Let cool for ten minutes. Top with seed butter as a lovely breakfast or snack treat.

Makes 10 muffins.

 

Shanti, shanti, shanti. Peace in your heart, peace in your home, and peace for our world. Namaste.

Grow

Another short (and hopefully sweet) post today!

A lovely conversation with my mentor and friend led me to a pondering… This motherhood thing is TOUGH. Right? You work hard, play hard, clean hard, and somewhere in between the rays of sunshine we’re supposed to still know who we are. Do we? Are we ever really sure who we are once little people come into the picture? I’d like to say NO. No, we have no idea who we are. We have no idea because once we become mothers, we are constantly GROWING with our children. Which leads to endless possibilities!

So, I want to give you permission today to not know who you are. To embrace the present moment. To say, today I want to be a firefighter. And then to wake up tomorrow and want to be the garbage man instead.

grow

Jennifer Magnano is the yoga, meditation, core strength trainer & birth coach and mompreneur owner of Mamoga (check out the facebook life-joy). She believes in happiness, health, and wealth. Her motto’s in life are “acceptance is bliss” and “we best serve others when we serve ourselves first.” Jennifer is growing simple body bliss (perfect happiness) in women, mother’s, and families across the planet, through holistic acts of self-nurture and products, like that crazy wrap thing. If you’d like to connect, email her today! 

6 Meditation Positions That Are Gentle to Your Back

This reposted article is from The Conscious Life

Finding it hard to maintain a meditation sitting posture without a support? Don’t fret. Here are some equally effective positions to consider.

In my article on how to meditate, I often get questions about alternative poses to meditate other than the standard lotus or cross-legged meditation position.

These queries are usually sent by people who suffer from some form of back or joint problem which makes sitting without a support difficult. For instance, for chronic back pain sufferers, sitting for even fifteen to twenty minutes without adequate support can trigger sharp pain down the spine.

So in this article, I will highlight some alternative meditation positions that are suitable for this group of meditators. They are gentler to the back, and are no less effective.

Some of these postures require additional tools to pull off, while others need no more than the pillow or chair you already have. Try them out and I hope you will find one that enables you to meditate without pain.

Meditation Pose 1:
The Astronaut

  • Meditation Pose: The Astronaut

    I learned this pose from the last mindfulness-based cognitive therapy retreat in May 2011. Basically, it is an inverted sitting position. But instead of lying your back against a chair, you lie on the floor with your legs supported by a chair. Put a pillow underneath your head to give your head and neck some support. Rest your hands beside you.

    From the picture, it is not hard to imagine why it is called the astronaut pose. In this position, it looks like you are ready to take off for the distant stars! And is not that what happen during meditation when thoughts fade in and out of our consciousness like stars in the night sky?

Meditation Pose 2:
The Corpse

  • Meditation Pose: The Corpse

    Although this meditation position may put one to sleep more than other postures, it does not mean you shouldn’t give it a try. For one, the corpse pose is extremely gentle to the back and is very useful to people who have problem sustaining an upright meditation position. This easy pose is also suited for guided meditation, body scan exercise as well as pure light visualization.

    To assume this pose, simply lie your back against a flat horizontal surface, either on the floor or bed. Rest your hands beside you with palms facing upwards (or downwards if you prefer). Space your feet about shoulder width apart and preferably, take off your shoes and socks. Use a blanket to keep yourself warm whenever necessary.

    Place a pillow under your head to support the neck, and if need be, put one under the knees too to maintain the natural curve of your lower back. You might also try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support.

    Note: If you find yourself consistently fall asleep after adopting this pose, then it is probably too comfortable for you. Try another meditation position that will keep you more awake.

Meditation Pose 3:
The Prayer

  • Meditation Pose: The Prayer

    The prayer pose is a variation of the traditional kneeling position. Kneeling unsupported with the buttocks resting on the back of the heels for prolonged period can be uncomfortable and stressful for your feet. So, in this prayer pose, a kneeling bench is used instead.

    Look for a kneeling bench with a padded sloping top (such as this one) which not only makes kneeling more comfortable than an unpadded one, but also helps to tilt your back slightly forward. This will take pressure off your lower spine when you assume the position.

    However, with or without a bench, kneeling can be hard on the knees. Place a cushion or a zabuton between you and the floor to prevent your legs from getting bruised.

Meditation Pose 4:

The Sitting Mountain

  • Meditation Pose: The Sitting Mountain

    This is a sitting pose done with the support of a chair. Since we’re talking about postures that are gentle to the back, here are some tips to sit in a more back-friendly way:

    • Adjust the height of the chair so that both of your feet are resting flat on the floor. Use a footstool if necessary.
    • Place a small cushion or a lumbar support behind the curve of your lower back if your chair does not give you adequate support.
    • Lift up your head as if a taut string is attached to it, and tuck your chin in slightly.
    • Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
    • If an upright spine is too painful for you, lift your buttocks higher than your knees with a small cushion so that your pelvis is tilt slightly forward.
    • Keep your shoulders relaxed — not rounded, raised or pulled backward.

Meditation Pose 5:
The Sleeping Buddha

  • Meditation Pose: The Sleeping Buddha

    Like the corpse pose, this posture is suitable for the ill and frail, as well as those with severe back and joint problems. Healthy practitioners can also adopt this pose to meditate every night before sleep to increase their sleep quality and mindfulness.

    To assume this meditation position, lie on one side of your body on a flat horizontal surface, and place one hand under your cheek. If you are resting on your left side, use your left hand to cradle your cheek. If it is the right side you lie on, then use your right hand. As for the other hand, just rest it lightly along the side of the body that is inline with the hand.

    Bend both legs slightly and rest them on top of one another. To prevent the upper leg from sliding forward and causes the lower spine to rotate, you may want to place a pillow between your thighs and knees.

    Your head and neck should be supported by a pillow of an appropriate height so that your spine remains horizontal, and not sliding down (which indicates that the pillow is too soft) or arching up (in this case, the pillow is too hard or too high).

    Once you are ready, practice breathing meditation the same way you’d do in a sitting position. Focus your attention on your inhales and exhales. Feel the air that is entering and leaving your nostrils. When you realize that your thoughts have wandered to something else other than your breaths, just start again by bringing your attention back to where it should be. Carry on for 15 minutes or more. Then, just allow yourself to fall gently asleep.

Meditation Pose 6:
The Tree

  • Meditation Pose: The Tree

    In this pose, you simply stand at ease with one hand resting lightly on top of the other hanging in front of you. Fix your gaze downwards as you mediate on your breaths. Don’t move your body or allow your gaze to waver. Because of its simplicity, you can use this meditation pose almost anywhere: while standing in line, on bus or train, or while waiting for someone to turn up. You will find yourself a lot less anxious and even begin to enjoy these waiting moments that often drive people crazy.

Jennifer Magnano is the yoga, meditation, core strength trainer & birth coach and mompreneur owner of Mamoga (check out the facebook life-joy). She believes in happiness, health, and wealth. Her motto’s in life are “acceptance is bliss” and “we best serve others when we serve ourselves first.” Jennifer is growing simple body bliss (perfect happiness) in women, mother’s, and families across the planet, through holistic acts of self-nurture and products, like that crazy wrap thing. If you’d like to connect, email her today! 

Ways of Wellness

I love seeing how innocently my children can explore something as simple as a musical instrument, and have no idea the potential of it’s impact.

The power of wholistic ways never ceases to amaze me. The Wisdom that we have within us – on a cellular level from Ancestral gifts – is truly awe-inspiring. When we turn to something (like music or food) to nurture, it’s because that is exactly what it was and is intended for.

Think for a moment. When was the last time that you indulged in dancing in the car? Or ate something utterly, primally satisfying? Most likely, without even knowing it, you were a seeker of The Soothe. The satiety that only can be found when one is full from within. We can only fill up from within to serve our Highest Self in the longest term. External soothes just can’t last.

If we take this knowing hand-in-hand with those that came before us, filling the void has less to do with consumption, and more to do with using the tools that they and Mother Earth have to offer. (Are you sitting here thinking – what exactly DO they have to offer?)

Your Ancestors used plants to heal. Plants as food source and medicine. Your Ancestors used movement to communicate… to communicate within their tribe, to communicate between tribes, to ask for permission or forgiveness, to ask spirits to fulfill a need, to self-express, to be. Your Ancestors used sound in much of these same ways. Your Ancestors used the art of storytelling to share ways of wellness.

Somewhere along the line, the stories stopped. So, these next few blogs will be stories of Ways of Wellness. Ways our Ancestors used, and we can and do still use today. I look forward to embarking upon this journey with you.

P.S. If you’re wondering what happened along our paleo-vegan journey, you can stop wondering! The Soothe was missing… while I found many a delicious food – it was too low carb for this busy mama. I’ll share some of the recipes that did work well in our Ways of Wellness chapter sometime soon – so stay tuned!

On Impact: Part 1

I remember the moment of the fall like it was yesterday. My first thought being, “(Explicative) I wasn’t listening.” And then the rest became a blur: doctors, medicine, spiritual disconnection, physical contempt… a family that was suffering and a life that was going unlived. A downward spiral that scooped up others in it’s path, a disharmony and dis-ease ran my life for a good (ugly) six months. And then, sitting in the office of a renowned neurologist, I heard these words, “I think you’re getting better.”

Boom. It hit me. I walked into the appointment believing not that I could heal, but that I couldn’t. I never had a specific diagnosis, no label to read up on. Without being able to define the road, and with many doctors back home questioning a grim prognosis, I had jumped on board the negativity train. On the long drive home from Boston, back to my one year old son, I committed myself to jumping off. I was told that I would survive. Now, it was time to thrive…

Movement as Medicine

This week in July is a busy one. Four years ago I married my husband. Three years ago I gave birth to the soul sent here to reshape mine. Two years ago I injured my back so severely that I had to learn how to walk again. Last year I returned to the workforce, pulling myself out of the deep, dark whole of post-trauma stress.

This year I share life with a new baby, celebrate my marriage and the birth of my firstborn, and honor my body for allowing me to move almost completely freely. Our bodies are like sponges. Each of these experiences, unlabeled in their “goodness” or “badness,” is absorbed. Held onto.

There are a lot of healing tools out in the world, but so few allow the flow and integration of experience in our beings as movement does. Movement targets this cellular memory. Cells remember everything. Everything. Tapping into these simple brain-bodies opens up a whole new level of healing. A whole new level of happiness.

I want you to rethink your approach to whole-self health. Happiness within your physical body is not overrated. It is where every thought, emotion, connection or disconnection with spirit, and experience has manifested. It’s the storage facility. A memory box, as I’ve written above. So today I offer this: what memories are your cells holding onto that you no longer need to carry? Breathe into this. Then, wring out your sponge. Move and be moved… to be more.

Life is forever a balance of holding on and letting go.

Peace & Love,
Jennifer

Take it to the Mat: Let Love Lead

You’ll see it on my facebook page. On my website too. You’ll even hear me repeating these exact words. But this week and the next 30 days, I’ll also be living it. It being the mantra of the moment. The present moment, that is. “Let love lead.” Mindless, limitless, unconditional love.

There is almost no need to go any further with this post. Why? Because actions are louder than words. When LOVE replaces FEAR everything else falls into place… relationships, health, finances… everything.

sharing

Now love won’t paint over the many new arrivals of emotion that manifest within your body, mind, and soul. There won’t be glorious tones of pink concealing experience. And to believe so is to surely cause yourself suffering. Instead, visualize love as the greeter of the guests. Let love lead you on an interconnected journey between truth and bliss. Truth in this case being the honest interpretation of what you feel. Bliss being the perfect happiness found in approaching each guest with unconditional love and acceptance. Be in your body, not out of your body as you let love lead.

THE GUEST HOUSE

by Rumi 

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whatever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

 

Peace & Love,

Jennifer Mamoga Wellness Signature

co-founder Mamoga & Mindful Mama Yogi

blisten Coach

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inspire another mother

www.bekindandunwind.com

Inspire Another Mother

It’s been over a year since Jamie left our world. Yet, her departure continues to serve as inspiration – just as so many of life’s events tend to do.

When I created Mamoga, my business and my middle child (yes, at times her wants seems to get “ignored” because of the high needs of my sweet monkey toddler and precious new miracle), I knew it had a rock hard foundation. I almost lost that sweet monkey when he was 11 weeks old. And my pregnancy with him? Calling those two experiences caustic puts it lightly. The experiences bore a hole into my soul. And where that hole sat, a seed was planted.

As a woman who never wanted to be looked at as such (I preferred to be one of the boys for many years, until a wonderful friend taught me how fabulous it could be to be me), I often lived a reclusive life full of dreams. Aspiration with limited inspiration. Then I had Ryker. Then I got sick. Then Jamie passed. From each dance with life my reason for being – for letting, loving, and leading – grew. The seed germinated.

Then I had Teagan. A first bloom appeared. A perfect birth. A healthy baby. And so, the journey continues. The journey of mothering babies and business. The journey of giving and receiving. Of serving others, by serving self. Motherhood has served as my inspiration. My experience of it, the experiences shared with me, and the experiences cut too short.

Life is short. We are here for a reason. What if the only reason is to inspire? To support another mother, nurturer, or woman along her path? In the words of Maya Angelou, “we are more alike than unalike”.

What serves to inspire you? Who has impacted your journey? How do you share this inspiration with the world?

Join our mission to inspire another mother.

Think less.
Be more.
Grow bliss.
Be bliss.
 
 
Shanti

Listen and Be Heard

written for nurturers at Mothering in the Middle, March 2013

 

Women – nurturers – are the most resilient beings in the Universe. Yet, no matter if you are in an aesthetically pleasing state, at the top of your career, happily mothering, or within the most profoundly loving relationship, you may tell yourself otherwise.  Most likely, you tell yourself that you could be more or do more.

I know this because I shared this affliction. Raised to believe that I was never enough, I strove every day to be more than enough.  It was not until my knees met the earth of my temporary dwelling place – a damp and musty basement – that I experienced an awakening. An old soul with cells full of trauma, I came to this place in wonder. Had my time expired? We all have these moments, if only we move out of the mind. If only we pause to notice our own heart beating… or breaking… and if only we listen.

Today I stand before you – a late-twenties Mama, eyes full of life and laughter, belly rounded with child. When I practice alongside you on the mat, my body aches too.  We both share the experiences of life and motherhood. And while I express postures on the yoga mat which cause me no harm, in this beautiful shared space I feel full both joy and sorrows.  I am blessed with a wild and healthy toddler.  Yet, as I nurtured him through survival to thrive, I lost the connection with my inner voice… and, as I sat in a hospital bed, physically alone for the first time in more than a year, I also lost the connection between my feet and the earth.

I believe that you know what I mean; I believe that you have been here, too. Our struggles may be slightly different, but as nurturers we are all the same. It matters not if the reflection on the pond is of a pretty young duck or of a wise older swan – both life and water run through our bodies the same. And roaring sounds of rushing breath and water emptying into the hands and hearts of those around us make our own voices inaudible. This becomes our normal space – to give and not receive.

I offer myself as a reflection of all women – all who mother. We are a resilient breed. When we step away from the lure of silence, we often find that our presence, our being, and our relationships have all been only half-seen or heard. Walking each day with unconditional love of both others and self, we all have the opportunity to connect with our own inner voice. And once YOU find it – the one that isn’t snickering at you beneath a pile of mixed-messages, the one that isn’t saying you are not happy, healthy or whole – you begin to recognize your own worth.  I stand here in testament – your voice can shape your path – “Be the best nurturer that you can be… by giving to yourself, first.”

Affirmation/Mantra: A daily affirmation or mantra leads to an inspired life. “Universe, please fill up my cup so that I may bless those around me.”

Yogic Wellness: Your body manifests all that is unseen – including each thought and action which does not serve your Highest Purpose. Practice Breath of Joy, finding your voice in loud exhales as you stand, breathe in, and reach for the sky. Allow your body to fall forward, arms flowing down and back by your sides. If you have any disharmonies of the head, face, eyes, or neck, including high blood pressure, take a simple child’s posture on the earth. Kneel, bring your sit-bones to your heels, and bow forward, head resting on top of fists. Breathe in deeply and sigh loudly with each exhale. A blanket, pillow or bolster may be used between sit-bones and heels should there be space.

Mindfulness Mechanism: Then next time that you are asked to give something of yourself, check your cup. If it is full to the brim, water those around you. If not, use your voice. Speak your truth. Say no to requests or ask others to wait. Follow this up with an action to self-serve or soothe. It may be as simple as sitting down on the floor to reconnect with the present moment, or as elaborate as a planned day spent only with yourself.

Living Yoga with Children: Allow your own children to bear witness to your resilience. In your most trying moments, the beings you care for will see you. Your response to adversity will help shape theirs. Use your words to briefly illustrate the situation, without requiring anything of them. “Mommy is frustrated right now.”

Should questions arise – such as in the never-ending why phase, elaborate. “Mommy is frustrated because she lost her keys.” Pause, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Little eyes are always watching… little ears listening.

Imagine being a child yourself. Your impression of the world is the same as that of those who care for you – whether you are an infant, waddler, toddler, tween or teen. The body language of your nurturer teaches you to either love or fear the world. In this space, you will either learn peace and presence or you will learn fight and flight.

Sharing Yogic-Life: Allow yourself to be fully present within your relationships. Whether the relationship is with an elder, parent, colleague, spouse or dear friend, your presence as a nurturer is impactful. Not every person you connect with will bring greater joy into your life; you can still bring greater joy into theirs. Share time without wandering through the mind. Be in your heart, visualizing a two-way street from your soul to theirs. Along this street rushes wishes of perfect happiness. Though you may not physically speak anything here, know that your inner voice only needs to be heard by you and the Universe. Here you fill up all cups. No one goes thirsty.

Always remember that as a nurturer, you bring greater love, light, laughter, joy and bliss into the world each and every day. There are zero degrees of separation between you and the Universe. The Universe is irrepressible, as are you. In living out loud, you are giving back to self. Self-affirm. Pause, look, listen and express. Hold on to the beautiful, perfectly imperfect humanness of caring for others.Let go of all that no longer serves you. Make room for all which will allow you to best serve. And when in doubt of your own resilience, find your voice. Then, stand in witness and listen.

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