Several months ago, I made a commitment to start meditating daily, with the intent of carving out sacred quiet time. Quiet time where I could just allow my brain to rest and come back to reality feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated. I followed through on my commitment for a few months, but like so many things we moms sometimes decide to pursue, it fell to the wayside and, the busyness of life and child-rearing took over.
Even though I’ve been meditating off and on for a few years now, it really wasn’t until two weeks ago that I realized just how much mediation had helped me be a calmer, less scatterbrained, and more mindful mother.
You see, I have a confession to make: I’m often overwhelmed, on the edge, anxious, pulled to my max, and irritated.
Sometimes I feel like I’m running a circus and all of my animals have just gone bonkers and refuse to perform the tricks I’ve showed them 10 times already … and all the while there I am, standing on my platform, megaphone in hand, trying to reign them back in.
Motherhood is hard sometimes! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the three children that I have been blessed to bring into this life, but sometimes it’s just plain difficult. I could list the numerous reasons as to why it can be so tough; but you’re all mothers too, so you already know. Whether you have one child or five children; work a full-time job or are a SAHM; have kids with chronic diseases, have young children, or have teenagers, motherhood is taxing. With to-do lists, field trips, doctor’s appointments, PTO duties, job responsibilities, and after-school activities, our daily lives are so often filled to the brim with task after task.
Stop the constant chatter
How many of you mothers take time to just sit? And I mean really sit, without distractions from the phone, Facebook, Instagram, or the TV. I find when I do have time to myself, I often fill it with some sort of distraction, or I think about the multitude of things that need to get done for the next day. Not restful.
And then it occurred to me two weeks ago: “When is the last time I meditated? When is the last time I gave myself a reboot?”
It’s no wonder I’ve been so stressed. I sometimes tend to think my mind is like the Duracell bunny that can just keep going and going. But it’s not: My mind needs some quiet. I need to give it some time to just turn off.
Though I notice benefits after just one 20-minute meditation session, I find that the more I meditate on a daily basis, the more I’m rewarded. After meditating, I feel calmer and less anxious. I’m able to proceed through the day without becoming easily overwhelmed. I also experience a quieter mind. This is one of my favorite things about meditating: finally getting to the space in your mind where the chitter-chatter stops. I don’t know about you, but my mind could be a whole other person, as much as it chatters on its own up there, reminding me of this appointment or the next chore that needs to get done. In fact, I long ago started writing “to do” lists just so I could finally get these thoughts on paper and out of my head.
But the greatest benefit I’ve realized from meditation is that it makes me a better mom. In fact, I’ve resolved that if I don’t meditate for myself, I’ve got to meditate for my children. They deserve, at the very least, to have a mother who can stay calm in stressful situations, rather than turning into a basket case 90 percent of the time. They need me as their leader and teacher. And meditation helps me be a better guide to them. It has taught me that the greatest gift I can give to my children is the love I give to myself. When I slow down and take time to reflect and meditate, it shows up with how I’m able to be there for them.
How to get started
So at this point, if you don’t already meditate, you’re probably wondering how to get started. I’m here to tell you that it really is so simple. In fact, even children can learn to meditate. That’s the beauty of mediation: It doesn’t have to be some elaborate thing that you do. It can literally be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or however long you decide. You can meditate in nature or sitting on your couch. You can set a timer to go off at a certain time or you can meditate freely. You can use a guided meditation that focuses on your breathing; you can focus on a specific word, or you can be your own guide.
Here’s what I do:
- I set a timer for 20 minutes, close my eyes and focus on my breathing.
- I pay close attention to my inhales and exhales and give my mind time to slow down.
- At times, distracting thoughts will come back; but when you recognize that you are having thoughts you simply let the thoughts float away.
For me, the first ten minutes can often be the most difficult, especially if I haven’t meditated in a while, as my mind really wants to keep up the chatter. Sometimes I find myself thinking there’s no way I’m going to be able to sit still for 20 minutes: “I’m getting so bored!” But that’s just another thought that will pass as well. Usually, after the first ten minutes, the silence creeps in. And there I am: still body, silent mind, becoming refreshed.