In honor of Mother's Day, I'm sharing my experiences and tips for meditating as a mom. I love teaching anyone to meditate, but I have a particular soft spot in my heart for the mothers who make it to my class. One, because I know the burdens moms carry, so realize the lengths it took to get her to a four-day class and two, because I know by teaching this one woman, a whole family will be uplifted. Mothers are like the sun, they are the center of their families. When they radiate, everyone gets to bask in it.
Upgrade in consciousness
Being a mother is like a spiritual practice in itself. In a way, it’s a microcosm of enlightenment, or realizing the Self in everything. The moment we become a mother, our sense of self extends to our child, or another way to say this is he or she becomes extended Self. So much of our time and energy no longer is reserved for maintaining this one body, but is given away to these sweet little parts of our Selves without hesitation.
Greater the challenge but also greater the effect
Having children is a recipe for stress. They are constantly demanding and forcing us to change our expectations. Plus, for most mothers, the only source of rest they get is sleep, and that is frequently interrupted. No woman alive can handle so much increased demand gracefully without some way of processing the stress. Every mother at some point realizes that burning herself out doesn’t help anyone. This total burn-out point is usually the mindset mothers are in when they find me. It takes a certain level of desperation to get a woman who has so many dependent on her to turn her attention to herself. But the mother who prioritizes taking twenty minutes a couple times a day for to let go of the stress she’s accumulated and build up her adaptation energy is then able to support her solar system with much less friction. For me, I actually use my children as a barometer for when I need to sit to meditate. My youngest daughter has this sweet little voice, but when I’m tired that sweet voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard. What’s amazing is the kids always mirror me. If I’m snappy, they’re intolerable, but if I have the energy to react to them with humor and love, they respond in kind.
How meditating affects mothers differently
Meditating can look a little different for mothers. For moms with young children, especially those that are not sleeping through the night, I recommend meditating as many times as you like as opposed to the twenty minutes twice a day. The physical demand of living with babies and toddlers puts such a strain on the system that more meditation is often necessary just to get back to your baseline of energy. Also, moms are more likely to fall asleep during their meditations. I know this personally, during my training, I believe I fell asleep more so than anyone else and even fell asleep standing up at one point. It is because we release our stored stress during meditation and moms have so much stored fatigue that when it is released in meditation, we fall asleep. This sleep is still more beneficial than regular sleep as you start from a deeper place. And you don’t have to still have a baby for this to be true. A recent student of mine who has teenage triplets is now releasing all that fatigue from years ago.
How meditation affects pregnant moms
As a pregnant mother, meditation can make you feel some morning sickness. I went through this with each pregnancy. Meditation is purifying, so you can experience detox symptoms. If this is happening to you, don’t quit your practice (as I did with my first pregnancy because I didn’t know what was happening). Meditation will be very beneficial to your and your baby and can get you through your morning sickness phase faster. Simply meditate more times for shorter duration. I would often meditate for only five or ten minutes and would be lying on a couch with pillows propping me up at an angle.
How to find the time
Good question. I’m constantly trying to find new ways to fit meditation into my fluctuating days. Here's some things I've learned from meditating as a mom for the past seven years.
Try setting your alarm for 30 minutes before your kids get up, it gives you a 10 minute buffer if they wake up early.
If you have a baby, meditate while they nurse or are being bottle fed. Nap times are great for meditation, though I realize that time is for fitting in everything.
The days I can hardly function, I will hand my daughter my phone and let her watch a 20-minute cartoon in the car as I meditate before we head in to an activity.
Getting your partner to support your practice is key.
Also, it took a long time, but I taught my daughters to play together and not bother me while I sit. This takes a lot a patience and interrupted meditations to get to that point, so expect some bumps in the road.
I prioritize meditation over cleaning up and other things on my to do list.
Even though it's not ideal, after the kids go to bed is often when I get to my second meditation in. I have so much fatigue built up it doesn't keep me from falling asleep at bedtime.
The biggest thing that helps is seeing how much of a better mom it makes me and constantly gauging my energy level. Just like when I’m hungry, I eat, when I’m exhausted, I meditate.
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A rare afternoon meditation