Are you interested in establishing a daily meditation practice but are struggling to carve out time to practice? Are you craving more peace and quiet within but every time you sit down to meditate your mind goes crazy? Do you want to slow down the busyness of your life and be present in this moment but are always coordinating schedules, caring for children, doing laundry, preparing meals, cleaning the house?!?! Do you recognize the importance of self care but just don’t know where to start?
Yup, I feel your pain and see the obstacles that to easily interfere with our sincerest intentions of self care. And you are not alone! Let me repeat that…you are not alone! Remember, meditation (insert motherhood, life, etc.) is NOT about perfection but rather PRESENCE.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is different from our normal waking state. Pema Chodron summarizes meditation beautifully in the passage below:
“In Nepal the dogs bark all night long. Every twenty minutes or so, they all stop at once, and there is an experience of immense relief and stillness. Then they all start barking again. The small mind set can feel just like that. When we first start meditating, it’s as if the dogs never stop barking at all. After awhile, there are those gaps. Discursive thoughts are rather like wild dogs that need taming. Rather than beating them or throwing stones, we tame them with compassion. Over and over we regard them with the precision and kindness that allow them to gradually calm down. Sometimes it feels like there’s much more space, with just a few yips and yaps here and there.”
Remember, we are not trying to completely get rid of the dogs through meditation. Rather, we are embracing the pauses between the barking or the pauses between our mental chatter. It is not about perfection. It is all about compassion and increasing our capacity to be present in each and every moment.
Before you start a meditation practice commit to the practice of maitri, the practice of developing loving-kindness and unconditional friendship with yourself. Cultivate unconditional friendliness toward whatever arises in your mind as you meditate.
Top 5 Ways for Moms to Meditate
1.) Start small
Commit to meditating for 2 minutes a day twice a day. Schedule your meditation practice in your phone and have a peaceful alarm set to remind you to meditate. Initially it’s more important to develop a daily meditation ritual than to focus on the amount of time you are meditating for.
2.) Practice walking meditation
Incorporate meditation into your daily activities such as walking. In a walking meditation it’s not about arriving anywhere, it’s all about being present and walking just for the sake of walking. Allow yourself to slow down the pace of walking, feel the soles (souls) of your feet on the ground, and just breathe. That’s it!
3.) Name your breath
Come to a comfortable seated position and bring your awareness (a light and gentle attention) both to your inhale and your exhale. As you breathe in silently repeat to yourself “IN.” As you breathe out silently repeat to yourself “OUT.” When we name our breath it’s like greeting a dear friend, it increases our connection with breath and hence our connection with our Highest Self. Allow whatever comes up to arise without judgement. Let your thoughts simply dissolve, and simply come back to the oneness of this moment. When you find yourself in another world planning, worrying, and fantasizing label your thoughts “thinking” and let them go. Come back to just being present. Simply bring your mind back home.
4.) Bring affirmation into your practice
From a seated position, bring your awareness to your breath. As you breathe in and breathe out silently repeat an affirmation or mantra that resonates with you. Breathe in “peace” and breathe out “stress.” Breathe in “be” and breathe out “present.” Or breathe in “Sat” and breathe out “Nam.” Be creative with your affirmations as it gives your mind something to do. It helps to tame the internal chatter in order to settle into our natural state of stillness.
5.) Embrace non-verbal time each day
Embrace small moments of non-verbal time each day. This is time where you do not talk to anyone. You don’t answer the phone, respond to emails, go on the internet, or anything else that engages your liner, thinking mind. It is quiet time where you just hold your baby and breathe. It is quiet time where you walk with your toddler just for the sake of walking and embracing joy and presence in this moment. It is time where you feel, observe nature, be with animals and stare into space. Its a time to allow yourself to be receptive and just go within and listen.
I invite you to take these 5 practices into your life and witness the subtle and sometimes deeply profound changes that unfold. Have fun with it and get creative on how you can incorporate small moments of stillness within your daily life. And remember, it’s not about perfection but all about presence.
With loving kindness,
Sara is the lead yoga instructor at the mama’hood. She leads several weekly yoga classes in addition to our prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher trainings, our mother daughter yoga and date nights, and our birth story healing circles. To learn more about Sara and her offerings visit www.begraceyoga.com or email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.