It seems like every parenting, self-help, and health guru is encouraging their followers to adopt a meditation practice. And why not, when meditation and mindfulness are touted as solutions for everything from anxiety to immunity to memory loss prevention? What’s more, those who have cultivated a regular mindfulness practice claim it’s a multiplier, that whatever time you spend each day meditating you’ll more than make up for in productivity, sleep quality, well-being, etc.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Here’s the thing, though: when I’m up to my eyeballs in motherhood, I don’t trust anyone who says that I can make time to meditate in the morning before my kids get up. I’m tired.
I don’t believe you when you say that it will have a multiplying affect in my day. I have too much to do.
You obviously don’t understand my life. In fact, adding mindfulness to my to-do list makes my anxiety increase.
Even though all of that was (still is) true for me, this past year I decided to give meditation a try. From one mom to another, it really does work. Within a week, I felt grounded and less chaotic and I started having more patience and grace with my kids and partner. I only do 10-15 minutes and while I try to do it every day, it’s probably more like four days a week, if I’m honest.
Here are some ways I was able to integrate a meditation and mindfulness practice in real life:
Meditate on the go
Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting still in a quiet, dark room on a poof with nature music and essential oils diffusing. It can be any time you hit a red light on the way to work you take a four-count inhale followed by an eight-count exhale, counting while you go until the light turns green. Another idea is to do a sensory exercise while walking into an appointment or going through the grocery store. An example of a sensory exercise is to pick a sense (sound, sight or feel is easiest) and take note of each individual sound you hear, sensation you feel, or thing you see as you go.
Teach your kids to do it
Super cliché, but true – teaching others a skill is the best way to learn it yourself. When your toddler is on the verge of a tantrum, try getting down to their level and take three deep breaths together. Make a sensory exercise (like the one above) part of your morning routine or a gratitude exercise part of your evening routine. Best case scenario, your kids totally buy in and they become happier more grounded little people. Worst case scenario, you get to breath more in a tense situation, giving you the ability to remain calm and be present with your kid.
Find an app or YouTuber you like and let them do the work for you
I try as much as I can to meditate on the go and with my kids. As a practice however, I meditate most consistently with a guided meditation app. I like using an app because they have reminders to keep me accountable, series on different topics, and a kind, gentle voice telling me exactly what to do. Insight Timer is a great free option and both Calm and Headspace offer free trials if you want some premium content.
If you decide to give meditation a try, here’s my last bit of advice: do so with intention and grace.
Think about why you want to try it and set a goal for yourself. Maybe like me, you hope to do 10-15 minutes every day to help with anxiety and patience. Maybe you want to do 2 minutes each weekday for self-care. But when, inevitably, life steps in and you miss a day, or two, or thirty, take a deep breath and with grace and compassion start again.