Fertility and Holiday Meditation Ideas from Tesa Baum
I promised you guest bloggers. And here's our first, Tesa Baum. A great way to start, by offering some help with the holidays and the craziness that we sometimes get into. Especially challenging for those of us in fertility treatment or sad that we are still without our babies.
Read beneath her blog post for her official bio and her beautiful picture.
Meanwhile, here are her thoughtful and very helpful suggestions for the holiday season.
The Holiday Smackdown: Mindfulness vs. The Monkey Mind
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose and non-judgmentally--in the present moment as if your life depended on it. Because it does, actually.
The Monkey Mind is a way to describe the agitated, easily distracted and incessantly moving behavior of ordinary human consciousness.
I have a confession. Even as a practitioner of holistic wellness and healing, I succumb to the monkey mind. I find that my mind is often wandering and thinking about my To Do List, going over my daily activities and plans for tomorrow, or replaying moments from the past. Yes, just like you, I find it is difficult for me to sustain focus, appreciate, and absorb the present moment, whether that moment feels pleasant or challenging.
Ironically, the Holiday Season, the time of year that gives us the most frequent and meaningful reasons to remain in the moment, is also the most favorable arena for The Monkey Mind to dominate our thinking. As our holiday season responsibilities escalate, we can become overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, lonely, scared and depressed, especially if we are feeling the loss of fertility, and so we struggle to attain balance. All bets are placed on The Monkey Mind.
This holiday season, together, let's shift the odds in favor of Mindfulness. Neither you nor I can simply stop thinking. But, by practicing a quick mindful meditation technique, we can become less attached to our thoughts and less swayed by every passing emotion.
What does this mean for grief, loss, sadness, and feelings of isolation during this holiday time? We don't want to feel trapped and consumed by these feelings. Unfortunately we begin to fear these feelings so much and then all we want to do is "move on". Mindfulness reminds us that pain and sorrow, like all else, is not permanent.
Does this mean that disturbing feelings will go away completely? And stay away? Of course not. But it does mean that they will change shape and form, they will ebb and flow, some days won't be great and some days you will start to smile. It means that our grief, like everything else, is only temporary. Once we accept this, even if only on a rational level, some of the need to avoid our grief starts to diminish. We can stop believing it is permanent, even when we feel it will last forever. Instead of battling your feelings, let them stay with you and treat them compassionately. Once you learn to stop looking at your negative feelings as a taboo, they can start to dissolve. Accept uncertainty and try to allow it to coexist with who you are. You will be pleasantly surprised how fleeting and impermanent these feelings can be. It takes a lot practice. Here's how you can start!
Tesa's Seven Minute Monkey Mind Smackdown Meditation
I am pretty sure that I am the first holistic healing practitioner to leverage WrestleMania terminology in a meditation technique! But, we all truly wrestle with this beast day in and day out. And, even though this technique doesn't require a lot of muscle, I want you to feel powerful in its defeat. Here are four simple steps to follow:
1. Find a quiet place and set a timer for 7 minutes.
2. Close your eyes, and establish a point of focus-your natural breath moving in and out.
3. When your mind wanders, don't be critical of yourself. Allow the thoughts to come and go and gently bring yourself back to your point of focus.
4. When we start to get really heavy and all we want to do is run away, that’s when to simply say to the thoughts, “hello, I see you, welcome”.
After completing this exercise, I feel extremely focused and I am able to really enjoy the moment. I am going to commit to this meditation practice each and every day during this holiday season. I hope that you commit too, both to practicing and to feeling more present.
In the New Year I will circle back on this topic and let you know the impact of my meditation. And, in the meantime, feel free to reach out to me and let me know your experience with this holiday survival tip.
Tesa Baum, R.M., CHT
Tesa is a Reiki Master Healer and Certified Hypnotherapy Practitioner.
Tesa is passionate about natural healing and helping people live their lives to the fullest.
Her goal is to help people experience inner peace, purpose, and inspiration. She is a member of the International Association of Reiki Professional (IARP) and has studied energy work, healing and meditation. She practices in Westport & Ridgefield, CT and Mt. Kisco, NY. Tesa works with individuals of all ages, groups, and facilitates workshops.
The Center for Health and Healing Wellness Center
Westport Hypnosis Group
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Fertility Events - Reminders
SingleMomstoBe Event this Sunday, a social gathering and educational event for Single Women Pursuing Parenthood (or seriously considering it), featuring RMACT’s Surgical Director, Dr. Spencer Richlin and Lisa Schuman, LCSW (RMACT’s Director of Mental Health Services).
Also this Sunday, discover your options this upcoming weekend at the 10th Annual NY Men Having Babies 2014 Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo. RMACT’s Medical Director, Dr. Mark Leondires will be attending, along with some of our GayParentstoBe team members. You can schedule a private consultation with Dr. Leondires.
One more minor housekeeping item - NO FERTILE YOGA TONIGHT IN BETHEL. Please check RMACT's calendar of events for the next several weeks for Fertile Yoga as some classes will not be meeting.
Onto the blog for today, here at PathtoFertility.
Halloween and Infertility - Trick or Treat?
Traditionally a child-based holiday that involves tricks and treats.
There’s the kicker of infertility, fertility treatment and trying to conceive.
There’s sweetness in trying to have a baby. Anticipatory feelings of delight in seeing the line on the pregnancy test turn the right color, realizing that you are on your way to expanding your family, knowing the reaction of when you announce the news to your friends and family.
Maybe this is a moment you’ve waited for since you were very little or maybe it’s been a relatively new realization that you would like to become a parent. Either way, there is often giddiness, excitement and a touch or more of apprehension about the dramatic changes that will occur in your life.
But you’re ready. You want it. You arrange your life to accommodate this new, important life phase.
That’s the treat. When it happens easily, it’s a treat. You float on cloud nine. Or you’re sick as a dog. Either way, you are on your way.
And here’s the trick. Sometimes it does not work that way. Sometimes the anticipation turns scary, not even wanting to hope, for fear that the disappointment of not becoming pregnant, AGAIN, will flood your senses and emotions. Will devastate you, at least briefly.
I’ve been experiencing a lot of treats and lot of tricks lately through the women that I get to know through Ladies Night In and Fertile Yoga. Through many of you, through this blog.
Many successful pregnancies and babies. Absolutely heartwarming and affirming to see pictures, get to visit and see families blooming. I can’t tell you how much it means to each of us here at RMACT to get the pictures of your babies when they are born and to be updated. We love it. I love it.
Tricks again though, are so very painful. There really needs to be a new word for infertility, pregnancy loss pain and ending fertility treatment. Painful just doesn’t cover it. While we are not personally experiencing it, we do feel it. We feel your pain. Your loss.
We grieve with you.
The trick of having the struggle of infertility, making the decision to seek help, go through fertility testing and treatment and not having it work is, as I said, beyond words. Some of us accept it as part of our lives and are able to treat it one day at a time, without being pulled into the tidal waves.
Sometimes, it’s just too much. Just one crushing disappointment too many.
How many people out there stop fertility treatment even if there is a possibility of being successful the next time? Through sheer exhaustion, physically, emotionally and even financially, there are those that say, “enough is enough”.
Is there a treat at the door closing and another opening? Is it donor egg/sperm? Is it surrogacy? Is it fostering a child? Adoption? Is it choosing childfree living?
Is there a treat simply for making a decision, even if it’s one that you in no way, ever wanted to make? Is that even a decision or just simply something you were forced into, had no choice at all about.
Today, whether you are enjoying the treats of fertility treatment or grieving the tricks, we are here for you. We care.
Please let us know how you are doing. We’re going to explore all those questions that I’ve asked, together. You are not alone in this. That, I promise. That, I can guarantee. That is one treat upon which you can depend.
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Memorial Day Heroes - My Thanks
It’s a short week this week.
There are many holidays that fall on Monday. Holidays that we celebrate.
Yesterday, Memorial Day, was a day where we honor rather than celebrate.
There were so many pictures, so many stories of our soldiers yesterday. I was touched, saddened, inspired and ultimately humbled, by so many of them.
The picture that I am sharing with you today is one that I took. Driving through Newtown recently, yes, Newtown CT, I detoured off the main road. I don't know why. It was a beautiful day and the lilacs were just starting to bloom and the daffodils were almost past their finest. And I came across a field of flags at a local church. I stopped. Of course I did. I closed my eyes and said a blessing. I felt the quiet in the spring day. I felt the honor and committment in the soldiers that the flags represented. And I share the picture with you here today. Because the picture was of our heroes.
There have been so many heroes in our past. Heroes that gave their lives because that’s what soldiers do. Heroes that we know about. That are personal to us.
I read about soldiers that gave their lives from all different aspects of our lives; parents, children, friends, lovers. Personal stories that touched each and every one of us.
My Memorial Day Story
My Memorial Day story is a about a soldier who sat by his mother’s side yesterday. Quietly holding watch as she is slipping away. He continues to be a soldier, putting aside his own fears and desires to do what he knows is the right thing to do.
Watching over his mother and helping her through the next phase of her life.
He’s my hero.
Thank you to all the heroes out there. Thank you to all the families out there who have lost someone they loved; you are heroes too.
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How to Build Hope - Happy Valentine's Day
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Martin Luther King, Jr. - My Hero
Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes. I know a lot of people out there admire him and even revere him; to me, he is a hero.
I list him on the top of my hero list.
He inspires me daily in the work that I do. Here are a few reasons why:
- He supported all people to be all that they could be; in a free and open society
- He worked from a place of strength, love and peace
- He was a non-violent man who stood tall, never stooping to vilify those he disagreed with
- He used his words to improve understanding, to make what he was saying clear and then even more clear
- He was unafraid
I work in and for a community that I love and have utmost respect for; the infertile community. I see daily how people are exhausted, ashamed, beaten down and humiliated by an infertility diagnosis. I see how they feel less than other people because of the often temporary inability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. I see how they (we) hide from the people we love and trust most; not sharing what we are going through or minimizing it.
Fertility Inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. probably had no idea or inkling that he would provide fertility inspiration; that he would inspire someone whose life goal is to support men and women through infertility. That’s another reason that he is my hero; how far reaching his words and actions have been.
There were many times when Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for his community; that is his legacy, his words and actions. That is who he was, a powerful spokesperson against deliberate and non-specific racism.
There have been many times where I have deliberated whether or not to speak; and then, what to say and how to say it. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes into my mind on occasions where there is something of importance that needs to be said, where being an advocate is more than listening in a loving way; where it means saying things that will be unpopular but are real. I think of him when I am speaking for my community. I think of him when a reader asks me what she can share with her mother who had four children, one after another and does not understand what she is going through. I think of him when I read research reports and sigh with relief that there is no causal link between fertility treatment and cancer. I think of him when I write about how it feels to be alone, reminding you that you are not alone.
Community Support on MLK Day
He is a hero of mine. I’m not entirely sure how he would feel about my using him and his words and actions to support my community. Perhaps he wouldn’t approve. Perhaps he would be upset about it.
One of the reasons that Martin Luther King, Jr. has withstood the test of time as a hero, nationally, internationally and in my heart? He has inspired me to grow from his efforts and, through that growth, I have learned how to effectively fight and support my community.
While he might not agree with my fight, nor support my cause, I have absolutely no doubt in my heart that he would respect my passion, commitment and actions to support this community that I love.
MLK Day, I will light a candle. I will say a prayer.
And I will say thank you.
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Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, AlvesFamily, Martin Luther King Memorial
New Year's Resolutions
Today is the day for intentions. And declarations. New Year's Resolutions.
We make huge statements on what we will do for the entire year.
Usually they have to do with things that we can barely do one day at a time or even, sometimes, one meal or hour at a time. Usually our intentions are about habits that we desperately want to change or think we should change or things we wish were different and that we would change if we could.
The crazy thing is that we think if we say it, especially out loud to enough people, that our declaration alone will be enough to change things. As if simply saying it will make it come true. The gyms are packed in January with people who have made New Year’s resolutions. They are crowded in February. They are back to normal in March with the people who make a commitment to exercise every day, not for an entire year.
One thing I know about infertility and fertility treatment is that if being determined and focused were enough, board certified reproductive endocrinologists would be out of work.
Fertility Treatment is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Mark Leondires, Medical Director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), talks about fertility treatment being a marathon, not a sprint. Luckily, that turns out not to be true, very often. At least in as much that so often, one can and does get pregnant on the first fertility treatment cycle. What he is referring to, of course, is that so often men and women are trying for quite some time before they ever walk into his office. Hence, marathon, not sprint. If you have been trying on your own for any amount of time, then you are already exhausted by the time you walk into his office. Maybe you feel like you’ve already run several races, as hard and fast as you possibly can.
The thing about a marathon is that just like a sprint, you have to do it one step at a time. In a sprint, you are moving much faster, usually with more effort. In a marathon, you know you will be out there for several hours, just for the race itself. There is no expectation that in fifteen or thirty minutes you will be finished. The training is a whole other issue though.
If I look at a new year’s resolution as a marathon, in that I would like to accomplish my goal for one solid year (secretly hoping of course that I will have retrained myself not to do, or to do, something astonishing) and allow that each day I am in training, somehow that feels manageable. At least to me. Each day, I have to achieve my goal. Not for an entire year. Just for that one single day. That breaks my goal into the steps I would have to take to run that marathon. That gives the training needed.
I can’t run a marathon tomorrow. But I do know that if I run today, let’s say three tenths of a mile on my five mile walk, that I’ve started my marathon. Because then tomorrow I could run a half of a mile. And Friday, perhaps a bit more. And on Saturday, I might not run at all, because that’s how training works. I know that with training, I could run a marathon in about five months. Barring injury, and not very fast, I could run a marathon in May or June.
With Life, As With Fertility: the Smallest Pieces First
And I know something else too. I will not be able to run a marathon without taking that smallest piece first. Three tents of a mile is about the distance between two telephone poles. Doesn’t look a bit like the 26.2 miles that a marathon is, all big and glorious. In fact, three tenths of a mile looks a bit silly maybe. Still and all, it’s where I would need to start. And without starting, there would be no marathon ever.
I like Dr. Leondires’ analogy with the marathon. It allows us to break things down into smaller pieces, knowing that is how it has to work.
First step on your marathon to become pregnant - Ask yourself these questions: have you been trying for more than one year to become pregnant and you’re under the age or 35? Or six months of trying over the age of 35?
Next - Understand that if you have been trying to become pregnant and have so far been unable to that there is help out there so that you can have the family you are dreaming of.
Finally – make an appointment! You do not have to do this alone. In fact, you may be unable to do this alone. So far, it has not worked. Get some help. See a board certified reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in helping conception along. Take the time and effort to succeed by having professionals guiding and supporting you each step of the way.
New Year’s resolutions are a great idea. They are a great way to reflect your desires and dreams and announce them to the universe.
Then do the footwork, so to speak. Do those New Year resolutions, one piece at a time, each day.
We are here to help. Please let us.
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Last Day of the Year
It’s the last day of the year. In my family, that means that last night we celebrated my husband’s birthday. I try hard to make sure that he doesn’t get overlooked; between the holidays and the New Year, that would be easy to do. Especially given his personality. He wouldn’t mind, not really, if his birthday wasn’t celebrated. As long as he skis on his birthday, he’s all set.
He knows what he wants, he knows what he needs and he creates the day to fulfill and satisfy himself.
A lot of us reflect on the past year on this date. What have we done that we wanted to do? What have we done that we did not want to do? If we made New Year's resolutions a year ago, how well did they hold up?
I summarize. I look at the big things from 2013. It’s too large a chunk of time to examine each day, so it’s the bigger things that stand out.
The bigger things are important, no doubt. I do judge myself on those moments and occasions, and I do mean judge myself. I know for myself that in the tenderest moments, what I need to reflect on is my day to day behavior; my choices on an hourly basis. And this I need to do more frequently. Much more frequently than once a year.
Each evening I spend some time asking myself questions.
Self Reflection Questions
Here are some of the self reflection questions that I find myself pondering.
Was I kind?
Was I honest?
Was I loving?
Was I authentic?
Was I helpful to others?
Was I true to myself?
Did I do what needed to be done?
Was I grateful?
Was I present?
I don’t ask myself each of those questions every night. Not surprisingly, I find myself asking the questions that I need to each night. It’s when I’m wondering about my honesty that I ask myself about my honesty. It’s when I’m uncomfortable about whether I was as kind as I could have been that I ask myself about kindness.
I clean it up every night. I acknowledge to myself what I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. I look at it honestly and forgive myself (the best that I can), so I can start the next day, in a fresh, clean way.
What I like best about this? I don’t have a lot of clean up to do tonight. I don’t have a lot of regrets about 2013 that I haven’t already processed. There’s not a lot of discomfort hanging around about what I could have, should have, done better or different. I’ve looked at most of it already and feel mainly at peace with my choices and behavior.
My daily clean up means that at the end of the year, I don’t have a huge clean up. For that, I am very grateful.
Ringing in the New Year
Tonight, while ringing in the new year, I will ask myself some questions. Right now, I don’t know what they will be. I do know that last night, my husband celebrated his birthday and that he enjoyed himself. Last night, for me, got cleaned up last night so that waking up today felt brand new.
I invite you to try this with me. This evening, reflect on today.
Tomorrow we will talk about intentions.
Happy New Year to you all.
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There is always beauty to be seen.
May you find beauty in your life today.
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The Gift of Children
What are you hoping to find this holiday season? An end to fertility treatment with the best gift ever?
Is it a gift that you can unwrap? A gift that you can be surprised and delighted by?
Gifts come in packages that are most unusual and unexpected.
The last several days of warm weather were a gift to me. Yes, I know, they shouldn't have been warm; it's snow season. Does that mean I shouldn't have enjoyed the balminess in the air? Being able to move around outside without being bundled up, without hiding every bit of exposed skin, was a pleasure that I had not anticipated and that I enjoyed thoroughly.
I considered it a gift.
The Meaning of Giving
I'm a word nerd. May be silly, nonetheless, true. Here's the dictionary defintion of gift:
1: a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
2: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
3: the act, right, or power of giving
In this season, number two pops out at me first. The piece that warms my heart as a reminder of giving in a loving way, is "without compensation".
It's not about what I get back. Or what I get first. It's about what I give or what I receive without "compensation".
Gifts are not all bought and paid for; some are offerings of time and energy. Making food, doing an errand, doing someone else's chore; these are all gifts that cannot be unwrapped yet are enjoyed as meaningful expressions of love.
Did you notice that love is not mentioned in that definition?
Yet, that's what makes a gift most meaningful. The emotion with which it is chosen and delivered and the feelings it evokes in the person who receives it.
Without love, a gift has very little lasting meaning. It's just an object. It's not real, even if it can light up and do all kinds of extraordinary things.
A beloved children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit, says it best:
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
To Become A Parent: Waiting for a Child
For most of you reading this blog, that is the real point, isn't it? What we're hoping for? To become real, become most alive, in the role that we are yearning for: to become a parent.
The real gift would be to love a child in a way that makes us real, in the way that we want to become real. To love so truly and completely that sometimes it even hurts, because we don't mind.
That is the gift many of us are still hoping for; to love a child and to become parents.
Until that happens, we become real in our quest, through our pain and disappointments. You are already real through your love for a child that has yet to be.
So we will wait. Together. For that child.
May you find that gift soon.
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Coping with Infertility and the Holidays
I just read an article written by someone I know and respect on ways to get through the holidays. Dr. Marie Davidson, from Fertility Centers of Illinois, in "Advice from Two Pros: How to Navigate the Holidays With An Infertility Diagnosis" posted by the Chicago Tribune, gives some very sage advice about infertility and finding ways to celebrate without causing yourself undue harm.
It's about creating a plan. It's about being proactive in the next several weeks in ways that you can; making decisions about what you do, what you don't do, where you go, where you don't go.
I love all of her ideas. I remember trying all those ideas and finding the ones that fit in the right ways and adjusting others. I suggest reading her wonderful article and seeing how her ideas could help you.
Here's one more idea that a very lovely and loving woman in our practice tried out this year.
She adopted a family. Luckily, a lot of us do that. It's a way of helping another human being and putting them first, if only for a little while. It creates a feeling of gratitude within ourselves about we DO have, rather than what we DON'T have.
This lovely woman went further and organized other women in Fertile Yoga and Ladies Night In to help. One woman went out and shopped for the two year old boy, whose mother had left him. When she brought the clothes in to be collected at Yogaspace, her face shone with delight. I asked her if it was difficult to shop and buy clothing for a toddler when she was still without a child herself, wondering how that would feel.
Her reply was that she enjoyed herself so much, that it lightened her heart. She showed me what she had bought, describing each item of clothing, smoothing the clothes over with her hands, almost as if the little boy's body filled it out. The love and kindness of the holiday season was all there, in that moment, in this woman's heart.
The feelings are there. Love, compassion, kindness. Then there was an outlet for those feelings to be expressed, by giving to a little boy who needed some tender loving care.
What does the holiday season mean to you?
Maybe it's not love, compassion and kindness. That's what the season means to me.
Perhaps taking some time to find out what the holidays means to you; to reflect, write, meditate, ask yourself some questions. Probably the holidays aren't just about shopping and gift giving. What are they about?
Then, having identified what the holiday truly means for you, take some action. Whether the action is for you, a loved one, or someone you've never met.
Give your feelings a way to be expressed. Don't worry about whether it's a traditional way to celebrate the holidays or a truly quirky version. This year, give yourself permission to celebrate the holidays in a meaningful way for you.
Me, this year? I'm going with lighting candles, sitting in front of the fire, drinking tea and reading books. That's right, multiple books! Nirvana, for me. It will feed my soul to have some quiet time.
I celebrate the holidays by encouraging you to find your way of expressing yourself.
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