I still remember bringing Mishka home from the hospital…
She was such a delicate little creature with wide eyes and long, dainty fingers. We drove home so slowly, stopping cautiously at every light. It was as if I was emerging from some long, deep, daydream and now reality was hitting me… I had a baby. A baby girl. And she was coming home with me. To our home. To live forever. It was beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.
There is no official guidebook for new parents. There is no money back guarantee. When you bring a baby home, you are taking the big, final plunge into parenthood that no one, no book, and no amount of lactation classes is going to prepare you for. This new, curious, exhausting, exhilarating, diaper-filled, breastmilk-soaked stage is so strange and yet so awakening. I spent much of the first few weeks of Mishka’s life somewhere between awake and asleep. Somewhere between emotional wreck and happiest woman alive. And I wouldn’t have changed a moment.
On the journey of motherhood, I discovered how important my spiritual practices – or rituals – were for my sanity and for the development of my little munchkin. Even as your baby is in the womb, his or her mind is expanding. Consciousness surrounds your child. Your child is part of divine spirit and so you should nourish and nurture him or her. Teach your child early how to be peaceful, loving, kind, reception, perceptive, aware, and grounded. Teach them but also LEARN from them. Listen to your child. Allow your child to show you how beautiful divine spirit can be.
These are a few of the spiritual practices to teach your baby:
Appreciating Mother Earth and Grounding
When Mishka was three days old I took her outside and wrapped her in an Indian cloth. We laid under a palm tree and listened to Bob Marley. I wanted her directly on the earth. I listened to my mommy instincts and they said, “Let her feel the earth, let her know she is supported.”
As someone who has suffered anxiety for many years of my life, I know there is nothing more calming than grounding down, putting my feet on the earth, laying on some soft grass, feeling the sun hit my cheeks. So I wanted my daughter to experience this immediately.
According to Wellness Mama grounding has many health benefits including reducing stress, improving sleep and improving blood pressure. “Throughout history, humans have spent time outdoors much more than we do in modern time and have been in direct contact with the soil. From walking on the ground barefoot, to gardening or tilling the soil, humans have always touched the earth… until recently.” Allow your child, your new baby, to experience the gifts of the earth. There is no greater gift than the nature that surrounds us.
Walking was an integral part of my pregnancy and I am thankful for walking because it helped me bounce back from my baby weight. But on a deeper, spiritual level, walking was important because it was helping me SEE the journey before me. So from the time that Mishka was a tiny, little baby I took her out walking. I strapped her to my body using some pretty awesome baby wraps (stay tuned for a blog on baby wraps later), and took my lovely dog, Lola and walked around the neighborhood.
It was so surreal walking around the neighborhood the first time I strapped her to my body. I felt like I had a tiny, baby chicken or porcelain doll against my chest. I held her so gingerly. It was also weird because the last time I had walked this neighborhood I had a huge, pregnant belly and I was waddling from side to side. Now I was holding this precious cargo on my walk.
Walking is a great way to breathe, promote positive thoughts and feelings, get your endorphins waking up, and get you OUT of the house. As a new mom you might not think that getting out of the house is important. Trust me, it is. Getting out and about and going on a walk is a great spiritual experience for you and for your little love bug.
Morning Sadahna or Morning Thanks
How you start the day is so important! I remember at the beginning with Mishka we had so many sleepless nights, round-the-clock nursing and smelling like sour milk. It was exhausting. But something magical happened…I found that these hours before the sun came up were actually a great time to manifest! I learned it while I was at Yoga Teacher Training, but in Kundalini yoga, Sadhana is performed in the wee early hours of the morning, usually around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. According to 3HO Foundation, “Sadhana means daily spiritual practice. It is the foundation of all spiritual endeavor. Sadhana is your personal, individual spiritual effort. It is the main tool you use to work on yourself to achieve the purpose of life.”
So if we wake up early and perform our spiritual practices – this might be chanting or reading or praying or meditating or simply burning a candle – we can create our day, we can create our spiritual journey, and we can work on achieving our life’s purpose. If you are a new mom or dad and are up in the early hours of the morning to feed or change the baby, take this time to introduce baby to your practice!
Massage and Skin to Skin
My poor baby suffered from “colic” for a few weeks when she was a newborn. I say “colic” in quotations because I believe that a lot of what we call colic is actually trapped gas. Baby’s digestive system is growing and imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t burp properly. I was so grateful when I discovered newborn and infant massage on YouTube. From that day forward I began to give Mishka massages every day, especially focusing on rubbing her stomach to let the gas out. She loved it! And it was a great bonding experience for the two of us. Massage releases tension, improves sleep, and aids digestion. So we would do bath time, massage, and then sleep. It was so healing and rewarding. At the same time I began introducing skin to skin. When I would get out the shower I would lay with Mishka as she was also naked while she nursed. There are so many benefits of skin to skin contact with your baby. According to Babygooroo, “When babies are held naked against their mother’s skin, it is the closest they can get to being back in the warmth and security of the womb.”
Thank you to the wonderful Sasha from Sash Studios for these amazing photos! You captured Mishka’s essence and above all you captured our very special bond.