Written by : Transcript – Becoming a Mindful Mother With Jennifer Mulholland 

Transcript – Becoming a Mindful Mother With Jennifer Mulholland

Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Becoming a Mindful Mother With Jennifer Mulholland




[0:00:02] PF: Thank you for joining us for Episode 465 of Live Happy Now. In just a few days, we’re going to celebrate Mother’s Day. But the fact is, all the moms out there need to take time to celebrate themselves every day.


I’m your host, Paula Felps, and today, I’m sitting down with Jennifer Mulholland, a working mom, conscious leadership expert, and co-author of the book, Leading with Light: Choosing Conscious Leadership When You’re Ready for More.


Jennifer’s work focuses on cultivating presence and rediscovering the light within, and she’s here to talk about how we can bring that business principle into our lives as mothers and how it can change the world for us and around us. Let’s have a listen.




[0:00:47] PF: Jennifer, thank you for joining me on Live Happy Now.


[0:00:49] JM: Thank you. It’s so wonderful to be here today, Paula.


[0:00:53] PF: We have a big day coming up, and that’s Mother’s Day. So, that’s the perfect time to talk about something that you call mindful mothering. I was really taken by that phrase. I may have heard it before. But it landed with me differently when I received that email about you talking about that. So, I wonder to start things, if you could explain what it means to be a mindful mother.


[0:01:16] JM: Lovely. Yes, I think, well, first of all, being a mother is such a gift that we’ve been given for those of us that have children, or mothering our pets, or mothering our parents. It comes in many different forms. But I really feel like we’ve just been given such an incredible gift to be in that role. Being a mindful mother really means being more aware, aligned, and intentional, and how we nurture those we care for, and how we nurture and care for ourselves. It’s all too easy to be the givers, and the doers, and the coordinators, and the schedulers, and the lovers, and the band-aid-ers, and all the roles that mothering comes. It’s too easy to leave ourselves out of that equation. So, being a mindful mother is really slowing down to be present with your way and how you care for others and how you care for yourself.


[0:02:23] PF: That sounds amazing. We know that would have incredible results. You can tell just from thinking about it and how it feels when you think about that, you know it’s going to have an incredible effect. But what happens in real life, when you’re burning the candle at both ends, and the kids are going crazy, and all kinds of chaos is happening around you. How do you maintain that mindful mother state when everything around you is chaos?


[0:02:49] JM: Yes. It’s such a practice and it’s a giant experiment. So, what works for me, may not work for you and we’re all trying to figure it out. I would say, the old adage that we can’t give what we don’t have, I feel like is the routing of where I’m coming from with this kind of idea, in the sense that, to be mindful is to really be aware of what works for you and what doesn’t. To be aligned with that and then be more intentional in how you show up.


One of the greatest ways we can practice is practicing presence. Literally, being present with the micro-moment that shows up. Oftentimes, we are so hijacked as mothers, where we’re doing one thing, and then we get a call from our child, or depending upon the age of your children, like you have a tug on your leg, or the door opens and it’s all of a sudden, you’re constantly distracted and multitasked and taken away from being present. So, practicing being present, pulling yourself back with whatever is in front of us. Because if a child or if a loved one comes in, then how can you be attentive with them fully?


One of our greatest gifts is our presence. It’s not necessarily what we’re saying all the time, or the decisions that we’re making, or the advice we’re giving. It’s the energy, it’s the essence at which we show up in that exchange. Oftentimes, it’s not verbal. Oftentimes, it’s just the way we are when somebody is needing something from us. That can be a choice of whether it’s frenetic, and distracted, and frustrated, and irritated because we’ve been interrupted for the 10 millionth time. That’s human and we all get that place. Or it can be practice in a way that we really slow down and look to the other person of what are they needing from me right now? Do they need a solution? Do they need to be told? Do they need advice? Or do they just need my love and care, and I need a hold space for them, so they feel heard and seen and supported? So, they can figure it out.


Man, that’s the art of parenting, of just, when do you know when to shut up? When you don’t know just to let your child figure it out for themselves? But you are really with them in that discovery. I feel like one of the routing of a practice is making sure that we are present with whatever is showing up in our field. Because when we are we actually take in more information. That’s the awareness. We’re able to see and sense and feel a lot more information coming in, that helps us attune and align to what is needed in the moment for ourselves and for the other person that’s showing up.


[0:06:10] PF: That goes completely into what you talk about in the business realm with conscious leadership and being present. How, as parents, as mothers, as women, do we learn how to start doing that? Because again, you talked about. It is a practice. It’s something you can get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to be present today and I’m going to do this.” Then the fires start and they plan to go out the window. So, what are some of the tools that you use and that you give to others to help them learn how to be present?


[0:06:42] JM: Well, one of the things, mantras I say, as soon as my feet hit the ground, when I wake up in the morning is, “I am fully embodied.” What that means for me is like my presence is fully in this vehicle and vessel. Because if it’s not, we often kind of live in the realm of our heads. A lot of thinking. So, we kick into automatic habit of doing, doing, doing, and coordinating, and scheduling, and showing up, and driving, and all of the things that we do. Oftentimes that’s coming from our headspace.


So, really try and bring my awareness into my heart space and into the full body vehicle just with that mantra. It helps me ground so that I can listen to my body’s cues. That is probably the number one hack that I think we miss a lot and in how our body speaks to us, giving us cues throughout the day of when we are feeling alive and aligned to our light within and when we’re not. When we want to leave the room, when we want to procrastinate, when we want to pull back. When we live in our head, we kind of check out of our body’s innate wisdom that’s constantly giving us the cues of what works for us and what doesn’t.


One of the practices of being present is just tuning into how does my body feel in this moment? Am I leaning into this conversation? Am I feeling engaged? Do I want to learn more? Stay here? Am I curious? Or am I wanting to get the hell out of here as fast as I can? Am I frustrated? Am I distracted? Am I bored? Our bodies tell us that information all the time.


So, I think as moms, as we’re spinning a lot of plates and trying to be more mindful in the automatic role of giving, giving, giving, we forget that actually, if we can tune the attention back to mothering ourselves first, what does my body need in this moment? What is it telling me? What does my spirit soul, light, whatever you name it to be need, to feel calm, to feel peaceful, to feel connected? Your body will tell you.


A great practice is, I love journal journaling. My business partner and I journal all the time. One great exercise is to literally write a letter to your body, or write a letter to your soul, or spirit, or light, or essence. And ask it what it needs from you, as if it was your inner child. So, if I’m exhausted and I am so tired at the end of the day, and I don’t have any energy, and I’m gaining weight, and I’m feeling down, and I can’t figure that out, write a letter to your body and ask what it needs. Your body will tell you. Just write, write, write what it’s saying. Or if you’re feeling like, “Wow, I am so scattered and depleted by giving to all my relationships, and my partner, and my family, and my parents, I am just feeling depleted.” Ask your spirit, your light, what it needs to feel more alive, more connected. You’d be so surprised of the wisdom that you already have, we just forget to ask it.


[0:10:26] PF: I love that. We do forget that we can tap into ourselves. We’re always looking for a cup of coffee, or something else that’s going to do that for us. You really talk about – what you’re talking about is extreme self-care. It’s not just taking a bubble bath. It’s really taking care of your soul. It’s more like soul care. As moms, it’s often difficult to put ourselves first, to say like, “I am going to shut everything out and take care of myself.” But why is it important that women do that and take that time for self-care? How does that make them better as mothers?




[0:11:03] PF: We’ll be right back with Jennifer’s answer about how moms can practice self-care. But right now, I wanted to share one of my favorite new indulgences.


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[0:12:14] JM: The world needs more love and care and connection and community and peace. I really believe like the feminine principle, the Divine Mother is here to help cultivate that state of being for ourselves and for all. If we desire that out there in a world where we wish that there’s no more war, and we wish for more peace, the only way we are going to get to that as a society is to have that individually in ourselves. There’s no better person equipped for that than the mother. Learning what self-care looks like to you, is I just want to say, it’s a giant experiment. Because I have gotten so frustrated myself of like, “Well, I know I need to care for myself. I don’t freaking know how to do it. I don’t know what I need and it changes.”


So, give yourself more grace in experimenting and checking in, like, “What do I need and want in this moment? What would feel good?” I think that question, what feels good to me now is so helpful, and following the feeling of feeling good, is likely to lead to peace, and love, and more care, and nurturing. So, that feels like the playground. If we could follow the feeling of feeling good, more for ourselves, whatever that is, and that can change 10 times throughout the day, then we can really bring that state of calmness, of more peace and groundedness and connection to anybody we connect with, especially our families and loved ones.


[0:14:14] PF: Yes. As you were talking, I could see just like putting it across my computer, what would feel good right now? Just so you have that constant reminder until you get into that rhythm of looking for that and seeking that out. In your work, because you work with so many different people. What do you see as the biggest obstacle to finding what is good for them? Because I know it’s probably an obstacle we’re putting up ourselves.


[0:14:39] JM: I see so a lot of caregivers, that they’re so good at caring for others and they’ve lost themselves, that they haven’t put themselves in that relationship. Over time, that depletes us all, right? I’ve been one of them too. Just going, going, going and not even catching myself that – because it felt selfish in a way. Self-care, caring for self is not selfish. I just want to rearchitect that unconscious belief system that somehow we have to be humble, and be the givers, and the Wonder Women, and have the red capes to be able to come in, and be strong, and resilient, and know the answers, and know where we’re going. And it’s just bullshit, we don’t, right?


So, experimenting and being more gentle. One of the greatest barriers is lack of self-worth. I don’t feel enough. I feel like I have to lose weight to be better. I have to dye my hair to be better. I have to have the right job to be better. I can’t just be a mom. I have to be a working mom and I have to have a business and I have to be on this ladder and this trajectory. There’s so many conditions, unconsciously, I think that we have kind of layered ourselves with, and it’s tricky, because it’s not obvious. I think what I would love to, for other people, to give themselves permission to be human, and hear, and know that you’re enough right now. That you have everything that you need to not only nurture others, but to nurture yourself in a more mindful, intentional way.


We get to choose if the monkey mind, if the inner critic is getting louder and louder, and my confidence, or your confidence is going lower and lower, we get to choose when we’re going to say, “How is that working for me? Is it working for me? Is it giving me the results I want?” If it’s not, we get to choose. That’s free will. We have this incredible ability to choose to not feed that narrative anymore. That’s what gets in the way. The self-worth and society is, especially, in the United States. We are just being bombarded with Instagram ads and like model-type bodies, and this is the house you need to have. It beats you down after a while.


[0:17:31] PF: How does that affect people as mothers? Because, again, they’re getting that message of you shouldn’t be doing this, and you should be all these things. And the normal female is like, “I’m not and I can’t.” What does that do to us emotionally and mentally, when we’re getting all these messages, that we should, we should, we should, and we’re like, “I can’t?”


[0:17:56] JM: Right. Well, what has happened is that it’s kicked in a response to do more. The opposite is the antidote, honestly. The less we do, the more space we have, the more space we create, the more space we give ourselves to be ourselves fully. We kind of can then start to subtly unplug from those unconscious messages, and cultural conditionings, and programs that kick us into this idea that we need to have more, do more, to be more. Where I’m sitting in practice is, “Well, what if I just were to be me? What would that look like?” That takes a lot of practice, to bring more of my full self to my children, instead of having such a schedule, to have space where there’s no schedule, and there’s room in those spaces for new connection, new insight to come through.


If we’re so overscheduled and we’re on the hamster wheel seeking to be more, to do more, to have more, which is the kind of cultural machine in the United States. We just start to deplete because we’re not restoring, we’re not remembering who we are, and that who we are is a being, it’s a human being. It’s not a human doing, as we’ve all been kind of tricked to believe.


[0:19:36] PF: I’d love to talk about how if a mother can change and learn to be a mindful mother can become more present, what is that going to teach her children? Because one thing we’ve talked about, just last week’s podcast, we talked about Gen Z and the horrible state of mental health among young people, and what the surveys are showing us. Obviously, so much of it is your product of the home in which you’re raised as well. So, if you become a mindful mother, what kind of gift are you giving your children? And how are you changing their experience when they become parents of their own?


[0:20:12] JM: I come back to presence, because I think that is really getting hijacked to use that term, again, in society and with the technology that our attention spans have become so short in what we’re able to sit with and be with. A mother’s presence, unspoken, it’s like the healing ointment that is needed. That may look like a deep connection with your child in that moment. It may just be sitting with them, not saying anything. It may be really deeply listening, not to fix, not to solve, not to give advice, but to listen to where they’re coming from, as they share it. That seems to be a real helpful tool that if we can practice being present and not meeting our children in the frenetic bounce of subject to subject, multitask, multimedia, kind of state of affairs.


If we can ground in learning how to quiet our own minds, we become less reactive, and we become more intentional in how we respond and participate in the care that we’re giving. Again, we can’t give that care unless we are giving that care to ourselves. So, I think with the Gen Z, we’re kind of in the state with mental health, where we have really bought our thinking. We’re buying our low-quality thoughts. And we –


[0:22:08] PF: I love how you put that. I’ve never heard it put that way and I love that.


[0:22:12] JM: We’re not taught to question them. We’re taught to identify that those things, thoughts are me. That’s who I am. Versus I’m in a low mood, I woke up feeling shitty, or whatever, and I’m having low-quality thinking right now. So, I’m actually not going to take my thinking so seriously, because I can’t really trust it, because it’s not really helpful. We get to choose what we’re buying, and we just haven’t really been educated or taught that we have a say in which thoughts we’re going to digest. We do it so unconsciously. And the moment, we pull a thought down and digest it, guess what it does? It creates a feeling. That feeling then emanates and then we attract people that match that feeling.


So, we have a society right now, and especially with the Gen Z generation, I feel like that they’re being bombarded with so much negativity, and we don’t have tools to help them navigate which thinking, which thoughts they’re choosing, and which thoughts they’re not. Now granted, there are many people that are in different states of mental health, that I don’t want to diminish the causality, and the conditions that are so many different flavors that people have. But I do believe when we are present, we get to then more consciously choose which thoughts we’re buying, and we want to bring into our digestive system, and create the feelings we want to have throughout the day and which ones we don’t.


[0:23:46] PF: I love the way you present that. It paints such a wonderful picture, and really sums it up. So, what do you want moms to think about? If you’re talking directly to all the moms out there, what is the one thing that they should keep in mind say, beginning with this Mother’s Day and then hearing through, to become more mindful, and to enjoy this journey of motherhood and life more?


[0:24:12] JM: What do you really need for yourself to feel mothered? If you were to mother yourself, or if you are your own best friend, and you could wrap yourself in the care and the love and the nurturing that you really need, what you need today, tomorrow, this week, to feel more cared for? To feel more supported? To feel more gotten? To feel more loved? Try those things. Just do something for yourself.


I would so encourage you to create space for yourself with yourself, with no one else. That can look like meditation. It could look like going for a walk outside in nature. It could look like journaling for five minutes on what you have to be grateful for. It could look like taking a yummy bath and putting bubbles in it. But just really mothering yourself is a learned practice. I didn’t learn how to mother myself from my mom. I learned how to be a great mom to my children from my mom. But now, I’m like having to learn how do I mother myself? Mothering the mother within, I do feel like is a game changer to unlock this next level of capacity for our divine feminine that is wired to nurture. It’s wired to naturally love, and include, and care, and create peace and harmony. Don’t we want that for our families and communities in the world? So, I would encourage you as we go up to Mother’s Day, to put yourself at that center and say, “What do I need to feel mothered? To feel nurtured? To feel loved?” And try it.


[0:26:14] PF: I love it. That is a perfect way to wrap this up. You have a lot to teach us. We’re going to tell our listeners how they can find your book, how they can find you, and learn more. But thank you. This is incredible conversation and I appreciate you coming and hanging out with me.


[0:26:27] JM: Oh, thank you so much. To all the mothers out there, you’re doing a great job and you’re worth every single penny, every single second, and we’re so grateful. I’m so grateful to walk this path with you. Thanks, Paula.




[0:26:46] PF: That was Jennifer Mulholland, talking about mindful motherhood. If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer, discover her book, Leading with Light, or follow her on social media, just visit us at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for our weekly live happy newsletter. Every week, we’ll drop a little bit of joy in your inbox with the latest stories, podcast info, and even a happy song of the week.


That is all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.



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