If you're a mother, you probably lead a very full and very, very busy life, with little or no time to yourself. And I know how hard it is, when you do get a free moment, not to use this precious time for paying bills or for another important task.
The thought of introducing one more thing to the daily mix is unimaginable. Yet I recommend that you do just that — and start to meditate. It's a worthwhile investment — meditating just a few minutes will refresh and recharge your mind and spirit for hours. I've been practicing meditation for more than 20 years, well before having children. (Note that I said practicing — it's something that I continue to work on, and value.) At the end of this article I've provided two meditations for you to try, plus some tips for getting started.
Why Moms May Need Meditation
Meditation has been practiced in many forms and in many cultures and religions for thousand of years. Then, as now, people have turned to meditation as a way to quiet the mind, and obtain inner peace and tranquility — and who needs that more than moms today. There are other potential benefits, too. Meditation can help to lower overall stress levels and can help improve your focus and concentration. It may help you sleep better and also help you relax while nursing.
Dealing With the Challenges of Meditation
Meditation may not be easy for you at first — in fact, it may seem frustrating. Keeping your mind quiet and focused, and not letting your attention wander, is next to impossible. Many experienced meditators say that the mind fights back when you first start meditating and actually makes it harder. The good news is that, like anything else, meditation becomes easier the more you do it. Even if you've mastered the technique of meditation, it can take time to see results. But if you're patient and persistent, you will.
As a mom, consider ways to bring meditation in to your family. To teach your children to relax and to meditate from a young age may be one of the most precious gifts you have to give. Treat it like a game. For instance, see who can sit still and be quiet for the longest. Or sit around a candle, at a safe distance from the flame, and see if together you can be so still that the flame does not move. It's amazing to share this with your family.
How to Get Started
Ready to begin? Here are some guidelines to help you launch your meditation practice.
1. Try to plan in advance when you're going to meditate, whether it's during the baby's nap, or after your spouse comes home from work, or another time. If you work outside the home, meditating first thing in the morning or last thing at night may work best.
2. Do your best to find a quiet place in your home. If the sounds of family intrude, consider a white noise machine.
3. Gather a couple of items that you will begin to associate with your meditation. Examples are a special throw pillow, a candle, some incense, or even a peaceful picture. These will become associations that will help you reach your relaxed state.
4. Pick a comfortable position. While many teachings of meditation recommend sitting in half lotus (like a crisscross position, only one foot is placed up onto the opposite thigh instead of under it), this is unrealistic for many of our bodies. Sitting in a crisscross position is fine. You can even lie down (as long as you don't fall asleep). Keep your spine long so you can breathe deeply and easily.
5. Stay positive. When your mind starts to wander, just gently bring it back without judging or negative feedback. It's just a mind and that's what minds do.
Check out these two meditations, which I've designed especially for busy moms.
Circle of Breath: Sit with your spine erect and your legs crossed comfortably. Close your eyes. Imagine you have an eye that lies between your two actual eyes. We'll call this your mind's eye. Take a few moments to watch your breath with your mind's eye. Watch and see the natural flow of your breath. Now start to connect your breathing so that there is no start and no finish. It is just one breath that flows continuously in and out. Create a circle of breath. Make it smooth and easy. Create a rhythm and feel your body connect to that rhythm. As your breath becomes balanced, so does your body. After a few minutes, let your breath return to normal.
Perfect Place: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Now transport yourself with your mind's eye (an imaginary eye between your two physical eyes) and envision yourself in your perfect place. Maybe it's the beach or an island or a park. Use all of your senses. Smell the flowers, feel the wind or the heat of the sun, see the colors of the sky. Truly experience the peace and joy you would feel if you were actually there. If your "real" world starts to sneak in to your perfect place, just let it float by like a cloud. Your perfect place is a great place to experience gratitude. Feel thankful for your health, your family, and all good things in your life. Bring that feeling inside of you so that you can carry it with you throughout your day.
How to Keep Going
If you feel you need more guidance, consider joining a local meditation group or listening to meditation tapes. Even if you don't get the full benefit of meditating, there is still benefit to just being still. In a fast-moving world, your body needs a moment to regenerate.
Someone once asked me what it feels like when you are successful in meditation. Do you know that feeling at the end of a massage when you are in bliss between wake and sleep? To me, that's what it feels like. But truly the best answer is that if you feel better, then it is working for you.