A Most Welcome Gift for Soul-Weary Moms: The Mindful Mom Re-Treat

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“I grew up telling myself that I would never be like my mom, but now I find myself being just like her.” “I thought that being a mom is pure bliss, it isn't.” “I don't know how to cook.” “ There are so many things that I am not good at.”

These are the voices of the moms who trooped to EDSA Shangri-La Hotel last weekend with the hope of making some sense into their whirlwind routines at Mommy Mundo's Mindful Mom Re-Treat. A takeoff from last year's Mommy Mundo Mom Manifesto campaign which was developed by Registered Family Psychologist Michele S. Alignay in collaboration with Mommy Mundo Founder Janice Villanueva and Mommy Mundo Content Head Jing Lejano, the Mindful Mom Re-Treat is meant to refresh, re-energize, and re-center moms so that they may be more focused on their tasks and more conscious of they goals, and become more mindful individuals and more intentional parents.

Welcoming the moms, Janice said, “We received such great feedback on our online workshop that we decided to make it live and interactive, not only so that we get the chance to meet all of you, but also because we want you to have a more fruitful, peaceful, and wholistic experience.”

Indeed, the moms were treated to a soothingly peaceful environment. The participants to the morning and afternoon workshops were kept to a small number in order to keep the sessions intimate, and to ensure that the moms have more than enough space to breathe. At the entrance, there was a lovely tableau filled with items representing the many areas of a mom's life, from her work life to her family life. On each table were pretty centerpieces with inspiring reminders, and front and center was a backdrop lined with pastel colored ribbons.

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“When we were thinking of how else we can be of service and assistance to our fellow moms, we turned to ourselves. We thought, what else do we need? What else can help me become a better mom, a better daughter, a better wife, a better sister, a better person? The answer lies in mindfulness.”

Adds Janice, “The idea is to strive to live consciously in the present and to be more mindful of our actions, situations, and environment. It's about being present in the moment, living in the now, and experiencing delight in the big and small. Yes, living in the now could sometimes be very difficult with all the tasks and thoughts we keep juggling around in our heads, but mommies, it is possible. We just need to take a step back, recharge, and reconnect with ourselves. We need to adjust our focus, zeroing in on the important, and blocking out the unimportant.”

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24749557956/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC2354">_DSC2354 Ichel Alignay leading the lively discussion

Leading the moms towards their journey to mindfulness was the vibrantly lively Ichel, herself a mom of two, who encouraged the participants to share their thoughts and experiences whenever they feel the need. “It's not only me who'll be doing the talking here. We're here to share what we're going through,” she said.

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24689574291/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3339">_DSC3339 The setup at the Mindful Mom Re-Treat at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel

The moms were given a number of worksheets which would help them craft an action plan for a mindful life. The first three worksheets Ichel asked the moms to finish quite quickly in order to get from them their top-of-mind answers. The first worksheet referred to their daily schedule, the second their family history, and the third their strengths and weaknesses. Each exercise opened the moms eyes' to their current situation.

One mom, for example, upon charting her daily schedule, was surprised at how much time she actually spent commuting to and from work. Another mom realized that she actually had quite a bit of time to do other things, if only she managed her schedule better. It was a most fruitful exercise as it allowed the moms to see whether they were spending most of their time on the things that really matter to them, and if they weren't, resolve to make changes.

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24487112730/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3092">_DSC3092 The road to mindfulness starts with self-examination, and so the moms gave their full attention to the worksheets

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24782682165/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3227">_DSC3227 Enjoying their time at the Mindful Mom Re-Treat

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Recalling their growing up years on the second exercise, moms became more aware of the beliefs and concepts which were passed on to them by their parents and elders. One mom steadfastly refused to ask for help because that's what she saw in her parents. Another mom remembered growing up with neither of her parents always present, so she found herself hovering over her children, hoping that they won't feel abandoned as she did. It was certainly enlightening for the moms, as they realized the beliefs which they had unconsciously assimilated over the years. Ichel added that it is possible too to correct or change those beliefs if they are not working for their present reality. She further encouraged moms not to let their past affect their present, telling them that they have to power to change their mindset.

The third activity had moms making a checklist of their strengths and weaknesses, and it was revealing that a substantial number of moms thought the things they were not good at outnumbered the things that they were good at. It was at this point that Ichel asked the moms by whose standards the moms were following to determine whether they were good or not good at certain things.

A breathing exercise soon followed, allowing moms to be more mindful of how they breathe. Urban Ashram Founder Maricar Holopainen, who guided the moms through several exercises, said, “We are the spirals of joy. We take care of everybody. We take care of our kids, our husbands, our parents, so how we respond to situations affects them.”

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24155811493/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3243">_DSC3243 Urban Ashram Founder Maricar Holopainen encouraged moms to practice breathing exercises every day

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24782717165/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3280">_DSC3280 Breathe in, breathe out

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24155853953/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3275">_DSC3275 Moms taking a moment to feel the air filling their up bodies

She further encouraged the moms to try just “being” as opposed to always doing, and to be present in the moment always. She said, “The hardest thing to do is to pay attention because our minds are so busy!”

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24782647255/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3172">_DSC3172 Cookies and brownies from Mommy Treats made the break even more enjoyable

During the break, the participants had a pleasant time connecting with their tablemates. After all, it's not every day that they can take a break from work and family. Some had to make very detailed arrangements as to who will take care of their children, who will run their homes, and who will cook the meals. Connections were established quickly as moms found kindred spirits. It helped that the snack prepared by EDSA Shangri-La Hotel, spaghetti Bolognese and a selection of Danish pastries, was yummy. There were lactation goodies too from Mommy Treats!

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24415346679/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3364">_DSC3364 Moms working on how they see themselves

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The fourth workshop was a challenging one for some moms as it had them drawing how they see themselves with the help of crayon and pencil. Nevertheless, it was another revealing activity as the moms had the oportunity to examine the things that excite them and give them joy.

During the last part of the workshop, Ichel encouraged the moms to devise a mindful plan which would take into consideration their present reality, their talents and characteristics, and their interests and goals. Consolidating these elements allowed the participants to come up with their own mindful declarations of their strengths, their breakthroughs, and plan of action.

Ichel, who was always responsive to the questions and concerns of the moms, proved to be an inspiration to all, as she recounted stories of her own challenges as a mom. She further encouraged moms to take care of themselves always as it is the only way that they can take care of others. She said, “We always thought that it is selfish to love ourselves. It's not. We cannot give what we don't have!”

Apart from the insights, wisdom, and knowledge which the moms gained during the sessions, they also received a pretty canvas tote made by Monogram Style PH filled with goodies from Caltrate Plus, Fern-C, Johnson's, Philips Avent, Cycles, Moringa 02, L' Indochine, Botanicals in Bloom, and Oscar Mejia Artisan Fragrances. They also took home a P500 gift certificate from Pylones, a voucher for a personalized album from Photobooks, a two-class pass from Urban Ashram, discounts from Ogalala and Barbie, and a gift voucher from Trollbeads. Some very lucky moms won the various prizes raffled off including home fragrances from Oscar Mejia, a toaster from Pylones, toys from Ogalala, bracelets from Trollbeads, and Mindful Mom Cards from Mommy Mundo.

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24682762481/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3009">_DSC3009 Every participant got a pretty canvas tote

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24415344329/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3474">_DSC3474 The tote bags were filled with awesome goodies

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24156206863/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3525">_DSC3525 The Mindful Mom tote bag was filled with all these goodies!

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24750171146/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC2589">_DSC2589 A big thanks to our sponsors!

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24665282902/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3313">_DSC3313 One of the raffle prizes: this lovely bracelet from Trollbeads

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24415453629/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3307">_DSC3307 Some moms won Mindful Mom Cards from Mommy Mundo

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24783144175/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3295">_DSC3295 Another mindful gift, home fragrance from Oscar Mejia to help moms achieve a comfortable sleep

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24148431194/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC2580">_DSC2580 The moms also received gifts from Pampers

_DSC2476 The Mindful Mom Re-Treat would not be possible without our sponsors

It was a very fruitful day as the moms were able to take time to relax and recharge. Moreover, they gained a new perspective on their lives, and a new meaning to their existence. In the end, Janice said, “We hope that you are closer to knowing who you are, where you are, and where you want to be, mom. Keep your mindful declarations close to heart, and all else will follow.”

The next Mindful Mom Re-Treat happens in April 2016.

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24756735316/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC3495">_DSC3495 The happy participants

<href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/24156876543/in/dateposted-public/" title="_DSC2919X">_DSC2919X The moms had a great time going on their journey to mindfulness together