Connect your mind and your body.
Cultivate a fertility-friendly mindset.
Take the stress out of trying to conceive.
These are all popular and familiar buzzwords in the fertility world right now. Everyone’s talking about the power of the mind to help relieve your stress around the incredibly stressful fertility journey.
It all sounds awesome, but how does one actually do that? And does it really work?
For me, it did work. When I first started trying to conceive in February 2012, I did all the “right” things to get myself in tip-top shape for the process. I ate a healthy diet with lots of whole foods. I started going to bed earlier. Already a longtime yogi, I spent more time on my yoga practice to move my body more.
I was 42 years old and didn’t know it yet, but I had “undetectable” egg supply. Two miscarriages and a Diminished Ovarian Reserve diagnosis were awaiting me in the coming months.
During a 3-month break from fertility treatment I came to realize that while I had done so much to take care of myself physically, and was hopeful that I’d have a baby despite the odds against me, my innermost self hadn’t gotten the memo.
I was telling myself I was too old to successfully conceive, that my eggs were too old, and that I wasn’t meant to be a mother.
No matter what you eat or how much you sleep, with a mindset like that, there’s little chance for success, my friends.
I knew that unless I brought my mind on board with the rest of my body, I wouldn’t be having any baby.
What is meditation and how can it help on a fertility journey?
Meditation is the process of training your mind to achieve a desired outcome, and I knew that it was the vehicle that could help me get over my own negative mindset around my fertility. I wasn’t a dedicated practitioner, however, and the idea of meditating was intimidating to me.
In setting about learning how to meditate, I turned to things I already knew to start. My yoga practice had meditative qualities that I’d tapped into over the years. The first thing I did was tap into that more. I attended more classes and practiced at home regularly. Instead of just doing the poses, I focused on holding them longer, and getting lost in them. In final savasana, or corpse pose, I’d visualize myself pregnant, giving birth, and holding my baby.
I also tapped into the power of storytelling to develop my meditation practice. I created my own custom meditation, inspired by my own fertility story, incorporating information as it emerged during my treatment cycles. I listened to my story continuously, while falling asleep at night and anytime during the day I had a quiet moment.
It didn’t take long for me to notice a shift. I began to feel more comfortable in my body. I wasn’t feeling tense all the time about my journey. While I accepted my limitations in terms of my age and fertility test results, I wasn’t beating myself up over them the way that I had earlier.
Most importantly, I discovered that I was fully grounded in the present moment. Rather than lamenting my past unsuccessful cycles, or ruminating over the future cycles that hadn’t happened yet, I was fully focused on the current cycle and the follicles that were growing inside me.
I trusted the process, and had faith that whatever the outcome, it was all part of divine timing.
In the end, I got pregnant with my son on my 4th IUI cycle. It was a month before my 43rd birthday, and 13 months after embarking on my fertility journey. I’d been given a prognosis that I had less than a 2% chance of conceiving with my own eggs, and would need donor egg IVF to get pregnant and have a baby.
I don’t diminish the importance of the physical improvements I made in my life, and still keep them up today, but I know that the mindset practice was the game-changer for me.
5 Meditation Tips
1. Start small.
It would be a lot to expect doing long, complicated meditations right off the bat, especially if you’ve never done it before. The Olympic gold medalists don’t just show up at the Olympics and win. They learned their sport and started with smaller competitions. With meditation, you can start with as little as 5 minutes a day, and build from there.
2. Focus on the breath.
Simply observing your breath is a fantastic way to get started with meditation and learn to empty your mind of extraneous thoughts. While it might not seem like you’re doing much, you actually are. All forms of meditation have the breath as a common element, so by focusing on this you’re building a great foundation and will be easily able to move on to more complex forms of meditation later.
3. Be consistent.
Meditation is a practice, and like any practice, you do have to practice. Back to the example of the Olympic athletes, they practice consistently every day and slowly and steadily improve. Try to practice at the same time every day, and perhaps even in the same place in your home, so that it becomes a habit for you. It helps to set a time in your calendar to make sure you actually do it.
4. Check in with yourself during the day.
In addition to having dedicated practice time, it helps to capitalize on found time during the day to flex your meditation muscle. My dedicated practice time is at night, but I’ll do a quick few minutes of breathing and centering while on public transportation, on a lunch break, or any other unexpected down time during the day. These little snippets of time really help me get into that focused space.
5.Make the practice your own.
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate, and there are so many options for getting into your zone. Walking meditation, visualization, chanting or focused breathing, among others – the possibilities are limitless, so experiment and find what works for you.
Changing your mindset is a process, not an event. It takes time and commitment and most of all, the belief that you will prevail.
Originally appeared at Your Fertility Journey 6/13/17