I regularly get asked how meditation helped me feel less stressed through my divorce. It is one of the foundational tools of my coaching and mentoring programmes. Divorce is the second most stressful on the list of big life events that you will ever go through in your life. If you want to reduce the fallout, need to find headspace in the overwhelm, then a guided breathing meditation is a good place to find it.
I used to think meditation was about the crazy unknown or ‘woo woo’, although I love a few unicorns, waterfalls and sparkles thrown in. But just breathing – really?
It has to be easy
As a newly single mum I was desperate to find tools to help me feel calmer that fitted in easily with my new divorce crazy balancing life. Life becomes uncertain, scary and exhausting and I didn’t have much extra energy in the internal battery pack to learn anything else. Check out the pile of ‘how to books’ by my bed!
I remember the first time I tried meditating, it really stressed me out. Being told to focus just on my breath was hard, concentrating on anything was difficult – my divorce brain was currently in a million pieces. It took me a few times – being told how to breathe somehow made it harder for me to naturally breathe.
Like anything it gets harder before it gets easier
My mind bounced around like a ping pong ball stuck inside a very small box. I sat and repeatedly tried to notice when my mind wandered off and gently guided it back to focusing on the breathing. It was different being still, giving myself permission to not be busy – it made me realise how little self-care I made for me each day – zero!
So I breathed in for 4 and out for 6, I did nothing but follow my breath with my freaking out mind, in through my nose, throat and chest and down into my belly for five breaths. Breathing down into your belly triggers your body’s natural relaxation response – I so needed it. After a minute I felt calmer, but I had also kind of mentally written the week’s shopping list, diarised the next day and worried about the next week’s meeting with my lawyer.
Don’t bother – it’s easier to give up
The mind monkeys were on permanent repeat telling me this meditation thing was no use, that it wouldn’t work for me and to stop. My mind and its monkeys were used to overruling me and my thoughts, instincts, they liked me being on automatic pilot. Meditation made them p*ssed, I was in effect starting to rewire well-worn neural pathways and taking back my mind and awareness.
I tried again, being competitive and also very stubborn. I was not going to let breathing just five times in a row stop me from winning this mini self-care challenge. And challenge it was, but weirdly I soon felt a little calmer. The front doorbell rang, I was shaken from this natural breathing stillness I was feeling… wow… it happened!
And there it was… counting my breaths made me feel calmer.
How and where to do it
- Choose the time that’s right for you – it may be as soon as you wake up, at lunchtime, in the evening or before you go to sleep
- Get comfy – you are never going to like it if you are feeling uncomfortable. Adopt a relaxed posture – support your back if you need to whilst sitting or maybe lie down.
- It really helps children manage their anxiety too so try practicing with them or other people.
- Schedule time to meditate – use an alarm on your phone and timer, post it notes to remind you stuck on mirrors or your computer. Gift yourself 3 mins a day a three times
- Try to focus fully on daily activities like face to face listening to your kids (they need to know in all this that they are heard). Drive without the radio on, love washing your hair – give yourself a mini head massage too and feel the water run over you. Brush your teeth with the other hand – it is getting you to focus more on what you are doing. Be fully present whilst you eat and put your phone down, maybe go sit outside and breathe some fresh air.
It feels good
Breathing like this and taking breaks to practice reduced my stress about meetings with lawyers, my ex, co-parenting handovers, filling out forms, first dates, turning up at the school gate.
If you make time each day meditation is worth its weight in destress gold. And yes meditation reduced my divorce stress. I still practice now, a little every day when I need to, to give myself a breather, time out and look after myself.
So I would love to know – have you tried it? Did it you like it, love it or gave up on it? What could have helped you?
Want more of my divorce toolkit get my FREE My Five Secret Divorce Rules Workbook here.