Don't Ignore the Present Moment
Dr. Marie Davidson, infertility therapist at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, shares her beautiful words with us today for National Infertility Awareness Week. Bookmark this page, print it out, and remember her tips when life gets overwhelming. We thank Dr. Davidson for reminding us to live in the present moment, no matter where we are in our fertility journeys.
Don't forget to live in the present moment. The infertility journey has a way of taking your life hostage, and when this happens, you miss a lot of good stuff! It is important to acknowledge the intensity of your journey toward parenthood, and the burdens that this journey brings. There will be tension, stress, and uncertainty to contend with. But the present moment is usually safe and reasonably happy. However, you will not experience it unless you pay attention and notice it.
One wise Buddhist teacher, when asked the question, What is meditation? said, It is attention, attention, attention. Being mindful of the present moment is a brief form of meditation. When you are feeling stressed, notice it, and then gently redirect your attention to the present moment and what is actually happening. For instance, the day begins and you go outside in your bathrobe to get the newspaper, wondering what new burden life will drop on you today. Notice that thought. Then stop. Make a conscious breath in and a conscious breath out. Pay attention to what is right around you" feel the sun on your face, see the new leaf growth on the trees, and listen to the birdsong. This is an exercise you can repeat many times every day, with positive results. Just like you train your muscles with free weights, you can train your mind with directed attention.Everyone needs some time to stew about their problems and infertility cannot be swept under the rug. So do allow yourself some time to obsess, imagine grim scenarios, and feel terrible. For a while. You can even schedule it in, just as you do a dental appointment or balancing your checkbook. But do not let your worry time last more than 15 minutes, and do not do it just before bedtime. If you are going into an extended loop of dark thoughts, notice it. Then pay attention to what you are doing in the present moment.
A perfect time for mindfulness practice is dishwashing. When you wash the dishes, really wash the dishes. Pay attention. Notice the curve of the bowl, the suds on the sponge, your posture as you stand by the sink, how your whole body is supported by your bones and how firmly you feet are planted on the floor. Breathe in. Breathe out. Notice how the air flows in and out of your nose as you breathe. You will feel more peaceful, and you will have clean dishes! Another good time for your mindfulness training is when you are stuck in traffic, and the radio is not helping. Turn off the radio, breathe in and breathe out, and pay attention. Notice how your feet are flat on the floor, the feel of the steering wheel under your hands, and the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. Let your thoughts come and go, like bubbles. Go ahead, and try it now if you want. If your thoughts take you off to an unhappy place, notice it, then take your thoughts to a nice place in your mind - a quiet beach, a mountain meadow. You will not arrive at work any sooner, but you will be calm when you do.
St. Therese of Lisieux said, Each small task of everyday life is part of the total harmony of the universe. One can also say that each small task we do is a part of our personal harmony. All that is needed is to pay attention. Start each day with a few affirming thoughts that are meaningful to you. Before sleeping, reflect on what was good about the day you just lived. In between, practice mindfulness of the present moment whenever you think of it, and especially during the moments of overwhelm, when you most need to.
Marie Davidson, Ph.D. has been involved in counseling prospective surrogates, donors, and patients for almost 20 years. Dr. Davidson is a licensed clinical psychologist, having earned her doctoral degree at the University of Illinois. She has concentrated on counseling individuals and couples who are coping with infertility. She facilitates patient education seminars on these topics, leads several support groups, is widely published in the fertility field and has been an invited speaker at many professional meetings. To speak with Dr. Davidson or to schedule a consultation at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, call (312) 253-4585.