Meditation. It’s a buzz word that we see floating around in the media, online, on magazine covers. Celebrities talk about how meditation helps them. There are articles online, in newspapers or magazines about the beneficial effects it has on illness and disease. Meditation positively impacts almost every area of life, including parenting. As it has a beneficial effect on the self, it, therefore, has an impact on the type of parent we are and the way that we parent our children, and in turn, it positively affects our children and family as a whole. It really is an invaluable tool for the modern parent.
So what is it? What will it do for us? How do we do it? Let me share in this post all I have learnt about meditation through my own research and experience as a meditator.
What is Meditation?
There are different ways that we can meditate and therefore different definitions of meditation. A meditation could be therapeutic, with the intention of the treatment of illness or symptom management or it could be for personal development. Meditation can be spiritual in nature or be a contemplative practice. It can be linked to Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. For each practitioner, meditation can be something different and in turn, the definition is different.
In a nutshell, I look at meditation as a practice of being still and being self-reflection. It is a time in the day when I completely stop and I am present in the moment. It may be an individual time when I sit at night and process the day, or in the morning, getting myself ready and aligned with my purpose for the day. I use a mindfulness meditation technique when I am with my children to be 100% present at that moment, blocking out the distractions from my busy life.
The goal for me changes at each practice. It could be a time of rest or one of connecting with myself or connecting deeply with my children. I have used meditation with each of my children and teach them the techniques to help their lives.
Meditation helps me be a better version of myself. When I connect with that best version of myself, my inner being, I connect with the ideal mum who I want to be. When this happens I can detatch from the stress of being a mum and the stress of daily life and connect with my children on the level that I want to. It allows me to be a gentle, conscious and connected parent. It benefits me, my children individually and my family unit as a whole.
What Are The Benefits of Meditation?
The benefits of meditation are seemingly endless. It reduces stress, improves sleep, improves our cardiovascular and immune system, it helps us become more aware and it helps us feel more gratitude towards the gifts in our lives. It helps us be happier, more peaceful and enjoy our life. It benefits our mental and emotional well-being.
Specifically for parents, it can help us deal with the inevitable stress that comes with raising children. It helps us manage our own emotions so we can be calmer and balanced, helping us to stop yelling, or lashing out. When used as a contemplative practice it helps us adjust the lens through which we see out children’s challenging behaviour. It can be a way where we can problem solve our current parenting challenges. In a world where we are so busy with our children, it can be a time where we can just be still. It can help us sleep better, feel better about ourselves and our lives. All of this then has a flow on effect to our children.
When we meditate we are calmer, more gentle and respectful parents. We are connected with our children on a deeper level. We are conscious parents, not swept up in what we feel we should be doing, and instead, be the type of mum we want to be.
If you could add only one thing into your parenting toolbox, I would highly recommend meditation be it. It helps you, and in turn, will help every aspect of your life and your parenting.
Meditation can even be taught to our kids. It can help them in the same way it helps us. Help our children manage the stress and anxiety with being a child (particularly those teenage years!). It can help with academic ability by reducing stress associated with school and learning. It can help set up a practice that will support them for the rest of their lives, and what parent wouldn’t want that for their kids!
How Can We Meditate?
When I mention meditation to mums, I’m often met with the “I don’t have time” response. It’s true that most mums are incredibly busy. However, if you’ve got time to waste flicking through Facebook or collapsing on the couch at the end of the day watching mindless TV, then you have time to meditate! I love to teach mums a mindfulness meditation technique which doesn’t even require you to remove yourself from your children’s presence, so it can be done anywhere! There are no excuses!
Let me share this technique with you. I have found that a mindfulness practice is the best place to start your meditation journey. It’s easy and not overwhelming. It is simply paying attention to the present moment. Because paying attention to the present moment can be distracting, I teach mums to rotate through the 5 senses; sight, hear, smell, taste, touch. Pick a length of time (I suggest starting with 30 seconds to make it super easy) and rotate through the five senses. If you start with 30 seconds the whole session would only take you 2 and a half minutes! Now I know that you have time for that! If you can do that multiple times a day you’ll feel a cumulative effect of these self-imposed periods of ‘time-out / self-care’. Once you start to feel the benefits, you’ll get the meditation bug and practice more and more!
This simple technique is a great way to start because it can be done anywhere, anytime and without music or special equipment. It is a great introduction for your little ones as well! Try it. Take a moment, and where you’re sitting or standing, what can you see? What can you hear? What can you feel on or around you? What can you taste in your mouth? What can you smell?
Personally, I don’t meditate with any special tools or music. I find music to be too distracting a lot of the time. I like to just sit and be still. It can be sitting on the couch or on the floor, or sometimes the edge of the bed. I don’t practice lying down as I find I just fall asleep! My son is currently 9 months old and can be quite unsettled at night. Often I’ll meditate with him asleep on my lap and he never disturbs me and I’m sure it positively impacts him. That’s a picture of me last week. Interrupted to take the picture but we were like that for about 40 minutes afterward (and yes there was plenty of room for him to breathe!)
The key to practicing meditation is to just start. Don’t worry about the how, focus on the why. Think of the benefits it has on you and your parenting and in turn your kids. Just close your eyes and be still. Breathe and connect with the present moment. Connect with the never-ending amount of love in the universe. Take those few minutes out to look after your own physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Do you already meditate? I’d love to hear how you meditate and the benefits you’ve experienced. Is this your first time considering / trying it, then I’d aboslutely love to hear from you! Comment below, let’s have a discussion. Or connect with me on Facebook and share your experiences.
Give yourself and your children the gift of meditation.