Mothering and meditation never struck me as synonymous. By the time I had 5-10 minutes to myself, the last thing I thought of was plopping down on the floor to do NOTHING. I needed to either get one of my endless chores tackled or I wanted to work out or veg out. However, this was all before I knew how powerful meditation could be, how it could literally change my mothering, making me a more mindful and patient mother.
There are lots of different ways to meditate and the internet is full of ideas. My initial introduction to an approachable practice of meditation was two years ago on Charlene Johnson’s podcast. The interviewee, Andy, had been a hard-working business guy and turned to meditation reluctantly. However, when he noticed his nightly mind-racing wake-ups had dissipated, he was hooked. Andy’s approach, if I remember right, proscribed 10 minutes twice a day and he encouraged repeating the mantra “so hum” in your mind whenever a thought came up. “So hum”translates to “I am that.” For more information about practicing meditation with this mantra, see this YogaJournal article.
Unfortunately, after a few days of enthusiastic practice I found that I wasn’t able to fit both sessions into my day and so I let it go, figuring the practice only worked if I did exactly as proscribed (a personality trait I battle on more fronts than merely meditation).
A few days ago I re-watched the Happy movie (if you have not seen it, I HIGHLY suggest taking the time to do so; it’s life-changing). At one point the movie mentions the practice of compassion meditation (also known as loving-kindness meditation). I was intrigued. Compassion meditation involves sending out positive thoughts, first to yourself, then to those you love, and ultimately to the world and universe. However, it was only after two nights of racing thoughts and a lack of sleep that I decided to put thought to action and try this whole meditation deal again.
While researching compassion meditation I also found that many people were touting the benefits of even just 5 minutes of meditation. I could do that!
After just the first day, I noticed I slept SO much better! I was able to fall asleep at a reasonable time. My thoughts, whether obvious or subconscious, did not keep me awake. The second day continued in the same way. I also noticed I paused just a little more when addressing my kids. I was able to stop that initial reaction, if negative, and rephrase in a more appropriate way. Today was the third day and I feel like a different person. I’m more accepting and calm. And happy. I’m more content in the here and now. With only a few days under my belt, I’m excited to see what a month of practice can do for my parenting and for my approach to life, with it’s continual ups and downs.
Here’s my play-by-play instructions for meditating, based on what I personally do:
- Find a quiet space. I try to make sure that my kids are occupied but after today, I realize I need to tell them specifically to figure out their own needs for those 5 minutes. I mean, come on. They can wait 5 minutes.
- Sit on the floor. You can ultimately sit in a chair or lie down. Any position will work. The key is to be comfortable but to also have part of your body rooting into the ground. I typically sit cross-legged with my bottom rooted down and my chest shining light upward (it’s a yoga thing).
- Cue up your meditation music. I’ve been using the app Healing Music but you can find music on Pandora and YouTube or probably lots of other places.
- Set your time for 5 minutes (or 5 minutes and 10 seconds if you want a few seconds to settle in first). Make sure your alarm is something calming. I use “slow rise” on my iPhone. It’s a gentle wake up.
- Push “start” and close your eyes. I’ll typically say “so hum” a few times to get myself centered and then stop while I focus on my breathing. From there I will say whatever words I want to focus on. Over the next few minutes I may pray or let my mind take me to my calm place, the edge of a lake with a tree line across the lake, a sunny day with a cooling breeze. (This just popped up the other day out of nowhere, a pretty amazing side-effect of meditation.)
- The alarm goes off and I rise, ready to tackle the next few hours or day with a sense of calm. Last night I meditated before bed and when I climbed back in I felt so much more content and cozy and ready to sleep.
With this new-found love of meditation I wanted to dive deeper into mindfulness. I found the book The Art of Mindfulness on Kindle. I JUST started it so I can’t give a full review but I’m 13% in and so far it’s been a great read, very focusing. It’s incredible how our minds can control us, how they can runaway and create anxiety and stress and worry. By staying mindful we can conquer these thoughts and live with a level of calm and activity that we choose.
So, give it a try! You have nothing to use but those 5 minutes and so much to gain!
I’m curious: What is your meditation practice like? What is one benefit you’ve seen from your practice?
Until next time,