When Colleen Wachob, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of mindbodygreen, first told me she meditates with her baby, I was skeptical. How could any new mom possibly achieve any level of stillness, mindful awareness or expanded consciousness with a squirmy 6-month-old in tow? Even one that runs a massive lifestyle media brand dedicated to wellness and mindfulness? But once I witnessed a new mama meditation in action -- little Ellie sitting contentedly in Colleen's lap, while mama disconnected and transcended for just a few short minutes -- I understood why she's become so committed to this daily wellness ritual. In the chaos of balancing baby and business (not to mention a brand new apartment), meditation with Ellie is a way to chill out and recharge, while sharing some good vibes with her baby.
“It's such a gift to be able to have 5-10 minutes of mindfulness," she explains. “Being more present in the time I spend with Ellie is something that I work on every day, and starting the day with a quick meditation is a great reminder of this effort." Below, Colleen lets us in on her meditation routine, and shares how she's bringing her passion for wellness and mindfulness into her baby's world. What was your meditation routine like before you had a baby? Before I gave birth to Ellie, I meditated 2 times a day for 20 minutes, using a mantra. Late in my third trimester of pregnancy, I was having trouble sleeping and would add in a sleep meditation too whenever I woke up in the middle of the night or needed some extra help to fall asleep. How do you meditate with Ellie? I meditate with Ellie mostly in my bed after she wakes up in the morning. My 20 minute sessions have been cut down to 5-10 minutes because I'm running short on time these days!
Why is it so important to you to do it with Ellie rather than on your own? I like holding Ellie while I meditate so that she can feel the good vibes from meditation too. I hope meditation is something that becomes naturally part of her morning routine too. How has your general wellness routine changed since having Ellie? I used to be able to “calendar" fitness activities -- a yoga or pilates class or a run. Now, I find ways to work fitness into my everyday life. What that means is that I go for stroller walks when I get home from work with Ellie instead of hitting up a group class. I take Ellie to the Brooklyn Pop-Up pool on the weekends and I get a workout in the water too. I take the stairs and I walk the long and scenic way to work whenever I can.
What are some of the ways you fit self-care into your day? Besides my standing weekly acupuncture and cupping appointment at Elemental Healing Arts in Brooklyn, which is my sacred time, I think the best ways to fit self-care into your life are in small doses that can become habitual. I make a relaxing Tocos and coconut butter tonic in the afternoons. I try to meditate for 5-10 minutes in the morning and afternoon. I have a rose water spray that I use liberally on my face. My dear friend Victorine has some amazing essential oils, Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll, and I love to keep them at my desk. What's surprised you most about having a baby? I didn't anticipate enjoying breastfeeding so much. I definitely started breastfeeding with a “let's see how this goes and try to do it for three months" attitude. I started with painful feedings and now I really enjoy the time to be totally present with Ellie. I am lucky enough to live a few blocks from my office and I come home at 1 pm every day to feed Ellie. It's the only standing appointment on my calendar. How has motherhood changed or impacted your work, both creatively and practically? There are so many great resources for pregnancy, but I think there's opportunity for more coverage for mindful parents. It's a never-ending journey, and I want mbg to be able to grow with our audience as they navigate every new phase of parenthood.
What are some of the elements you've brought into your home (and Ellie's world) that encourage mindfulness? Two weeks after Ellie was born, we moved into a new apartment. A mindbodygreen expert, Dana Claudat, flew out to Brooklyn for the weeknd to help us make our home a sanctuary. We have over 30 plants in our apartment to help support air filtration. We love to bring a little bit of the outdoors into our home and Ellie's nursery. One of my favorite books to read to Ellie is Hello Sacred Life, a gift from mindbodygreen yoga expert, Caley Alyssa. We sometimes meditate with the Teddy Meddy too! If there's one thing you hope Ellie eventually understands about "what mommy does at work," what is it? Create a community to help people lead complete and fulfilling lives.
Photography by Ana Gambuto for Well Rounded.