It's a shame Mindful Motherhood by Cassandra Vieten (New Harbinger, 2009) wasn't around when I became a parent. I remember waking up to my crying baby and feeling a mixture of fatigue, confusion, and resentment as I rose from our warm bed to comfort him back to sleep. Vieten paints a realistic portrait of the challenges new mothers face, as she offers them tools for staying open and relaxed.
Vieten advises mothers to learn to stay present, notice what's happening in the moment, and be as neutral as possible, without adding value judgments or creating internal dialogues––e.g., "The baby has incurable colic! My husband never gets up! I'm a bad mother!"––that can amp up the negative emotions.
In addition, Vieten offers yoga poses and other stress-reducing exercises that can help moms to calm their minds and keep their hearts open. "When the situation and your feelings about it are met with a willingness to have them be what they are, you can reduce a lot of unnecessary suffering," she writes.
The book is nicely written and it is soothing, but I do have one complaint: When is a new mother going to find the time to read it? If you want to benefit from its wisdom it's best to pick up this book while your baby is still in the womb and start practicing the techniques in advance. Then maybe, just maybe, it will help prepare you for the onslaught (and joys) of parenting.
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About The Author
Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.