The essence of meditation is to simply observe what is, without judgment or labeling of any kind. However, the benefits of a regular practice include: peace of mind, more compassion and more joy. It is a practice to anchor yourself to the present moment; to experience and observe beyond the walls of past and future. Meditation can ease anxiety and depression. One may learn to accept life on life’s terms through a regular practice. It is a practice that cultivates faith and grace.
It’s not easy having a regular practice as a parent, but doing so can reap many benefits. Parents are constantly taking care of their little beings, always with some percentage of the mind on the children’s whereabouts and well-being. When the children are old enough to go to school, there seems to be even less down time. After the school bell rings, there is laundry, a messy kitchen, beds to be made, and work.
Child rearing is not all fun and games. It is heart-wrenching to discipline your children. Years of interrupted sleep yield a scattered mind and tense nerves, making it especially difficult to deal with those temper-tantrums with composure and clarity. A regular meditation practice cultivates the space for grace where you are less reactive, and more likely to act from a place of love and understanding.
I have been craving a regular practice. I recently read an article by a top yoga teacher who revealed her morning rituals: a hot cup of water with lemon, a half-hour mediation, yoga, and she is ready to take on the day. I examined my morning: waking up to my munchkins jumping on my bed, pleading for ten more minutes of uninterrupted sleep, groping my way through the house in to the kitchen to find the coffee pot, preparing breakfast, packing lunches, finding the underwear labeled with the correct day of the week (the kids idea- certainly not mine), and raising my voice as I continuously corral everyone out the door. I am not complaining. Being a mom is incredibly satisfying, yet I can’t say I always savor the moment. Meditation would help.
I began asking other moms and dads if they have a practice. How long, what time of the day, if they can manage to meditate with the kids in the house, and what kind of mediation works best for them. As it turns out, not many parents meditate, at least in a conventional sense. What I did find is that parents find moments of mediation in ways other than from a cushion. This was comforting to hear. I wasn’t failing if I didn’t get to sit on my cushion for thirty minutes to an hour a day. While I am raising my minions, my practice will manifest in appropriate places.
These are some practices shared with me by fellow parents:
1. One mother told me she finds peace trail running. Being outside among natural surroundings is therapy for the soul. It is solitude, and serenity from society. In the woods, you are part of the bigger reality.
2. Most parents who kept some type of practice said that they did so outside the home in a sanga, church, or yoga class. Away from home, parents feel less distracted, and able to fully engage. At home, on the other hand, distractions are plenty, and an ear is always kept on the kids. The hour or two once a week or more sufficed as enough time for Moms and Dads to find benefits.
3. Another mother told me her regular yoga practice brought mindfulness to everything that she did, and so household chores became a mediation. Folding laundry, putting away dishes, eating, and even being stuck in traffic are opportune times to show up for the moment. It is as simple as observing your breath, smells, tastes, touch, and sound.
4. Wake up earlier. I try to soak up every moment of slumber I possibly can, yet this is still an option. Morning is a great time to meditate, before the mind is inundated with duties, tasks, and demands. Set an intention for the day. Choose to have a great day, and consciously decide that the challenges set before you that day will be met with your highest self.
If you have other practices to share, add them below in the comment box!
Photo: Conscious life news