The experience of trying to conceive and the infertility journey can be emotional. Some emotions are positive as you look forward to adding to your family, yet feelings of stress and anxiety may surface as you wonder when it might happen for you, whether you are trying the right treatments, or worry about finances. Sadness or grief may arise if you have struggled with unsuccessful attempts.
These thoughts can be hard on your body, with increased cortisol levels, depleted vitamin and mineral stores, increased muscle tension. Mindfulness meditation techniques address these issues.
How Mindfulness Meditation Works
Mindfulness is defined as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judging. This practice first asks you to quietly focus your mind on your inhale and exhale. If you try this, you will notice that the mind wanders. The mind does not want to stay put. That is normal. Mindfulness meditation practice simply involves this noticing: You focus on the breath, you notice the mind wander, and you bring the mind back to the breath. This noticing is the whole practice. The moment you notice your mind has wandered, that’s mindfulness. Noticing what your mind is up to and beginning to retrain it to rest in this moment, not the past or future, is the point. This science-based healing approach has been widely studied and the benefits are well-documented.
Over time, practicing mindfulness meditation slows down the stress response. We become calmer, able to see life through a mellower lens. Anxiety is reduced, as is emotional reactivity. We retrain the habitual pathways of the brain. Positive effects are seen in patients with depression and chronic pain, too.
Mindfulness also works to reduce our judgments. Our habit is to react to things as good or bad, often not noticing that most of our experience is neutral. In practicing mindfulness, we note that things are as they are in this moment, noting that whatever it is, is already here. We pause. Instead of reacting, we respond. This simple difference, between reacting and responding, changes your experience of life (and the experience of those around you) significantly. The pause offers the opportunity to choose what comes next… a space for wisdom to arise. Moving forward with clarity becomes possible.
Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction During Fertility Treatments
- Reduced stress and anxiety, which can be harmful physically and emotionally.
- Increased self-compassion. Treating yourself with the same care and kindness you would treat a friend becomes possible.
- Reduced self-induced pressure. Choosing peace and calm allows for more grace in your fertility journey.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction, once developed as a tool, will help you to live moment to moment without the burden of being judged. This is called a practice because it takes practice to develop this skill. We are humans with habits. Emotional habits and thinking habits. Mindfulness practice moves us out of habit and into present moment awareness of our own life experience.
Incorporating a mindfulness-based stress reduction program into your daily routine may help with stress management, reducing anxiety, mitigating a pain response, increasing self-compassion, and overall wellness during your integrative fertility journey. A list of resources for mindfulness meditations are included here on our site.
If you are interested in a consultation to see if integrative techniques can further support your fertility journey, contact me.