In recent and even not so recent years I've often found it difficult to relax. Most likely, the sole reason for this is simply that I lead a busy life, caring for our four children and my husband. It doesn't leave a lot of time for me to focus just on me and that means I often end up feeling stressed. It's not like I want or even need a lot of time to myself, but like most mothers, just a half hour here or there is all I desire!
I've often found that in those occasional half hours that I do manage to grab for myself that deep relaxation recordings help me cope with the daily stress in my life and I suppose I first started reaching for them when I was a student. Studying for what seemd to be never-ending exams in the hope of achieving my dream of becoming an English teacher, it was often difficult to wind down at the end of the day.
As the years have gone by, many things have changed. I achieved my dream but found that full-time motherhood became more important to me and that's why I made the almost overwhelmingly difficult choice to stay at home full-time. Not that I made that choice deliberately I might add. When I went on maternity leave just before my second daughter was born, I fully intended on returning to the workplace. However, it just never happened. I briefly thought about how childcare would work out and couldn't bring myself to leave the children with strangers. My parents and my husband's parents had been more than eager to look after their first grandchild but with a second it was more difficult for them and I didn't even ask as I knew it would be too much.
It wasn't an easy decision to stay at home as I had always loved my work and got a great feeling of excitement from helping young people to learn, but it had physically pained me when I had initially left my first baby behind with one set of grandparents whilst I left to educate other children. Somehow, the decision to become a fulltime mother was made for me without me even realising it - it was only as the weeks at home became years at home that at some point I actually thought to myself how did that happen?
These days, with four children who demand my almost every moment, I often look back on what could have been had I managed to secure a permanent job in teaching as soon as I'd qualified. I probably wouldn't have found it just so easy to walk away, and in fact probably wouldn't have done so, but since my early teaching positions were always temporary I just never went back after the birth of my second daughter.
Looking back into my own past always causes me mixed feelings. I know in my heart I've often made what were difficult but ultimately the best choices I could have made at the time, yet I still wonder incessantly about how I could be more productive in society. My husband tells me what I do is enormously important - as a full-time mother, I'm the one who takes the children on medical appointments, nurses them if they're ill and I do most of the school work, all the school runs and house-keeping. But my mind often refuses to quieten, questioning many of the decisions I have made and continue to make.
Every day I look at working mothers and wonder how they manage and how I would have managed had that been the path I had ended up taking. I have many regrets but also many moments of clarity and when it all starts to become overwhelming help is never far away in the form of one of the many mp3 relaxation cds I have on my ipod. At the moment I'm enjoying some of my many Glenn Harrold recordings, in particular his solfeggio meditations series of which I have three. The recordings are based on an ancient sound system using certain frequencies which correspond to specific worries, stresses, hopes and dreams and I have found them remarkably effective and rather inspirational. Like many similar hypnotherapy/relaxation recordings, they start off helping you focus on breathing techniques which help you drift into a lovely deeply relaxed state before suggestions which help focus on problems or desires in your life. I usuallly fall into a deep sleep fairly quickly and usually awaken with a loud snore just as the recording ends!
What I really love about these recordings though is the background sounds and music, so much so that I actually bought myself a copy of just the background music which is composed and arranged by spiritual musician and healer Ali Calderwood, the man behind Anima.