"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Meditation and Kids: Oxymoron or Way of Life?

Over a year ago I started looking into the practice of mediation. I think once you have an established yoga practice it is natural to at least consider meditation. Through the amazing people at Insight Meditations I was able to get an introduction. After that I was committed to daily mediation for a couple of weeks, until Logan stopped napping. After that it was problematic to say the least.

I decided to abandon my practice even though it has proven to be transformative. I was learning to treat myself with grace and love. Stubbornly clinging to a practice causing more frustration than progress was not a kind and compassionate way to treat myself. Down the road, perhaps years, I would reestablish this most beneficial practice. It was the right choice for the time.

The seasons can change very quickly when you have small children. I soon realized that not only did I NEED  to get back to meditation but I thought it would now be possible.

The whole idea of meditation is to truly and deeply connect us with the present moment, whatever that may encompass. I realized I was waiting for the "perfect" time. I was waiting until I had peace and quiet, until I had space. Then I understood it would be through meditation I could find peace, quiet, and space even in the chaotic time of preschoolers.

But how to go about it?

First, I had to reevaluate how I would go about this whole thing. Early morning was absolutely out. The kids knew when I woke up and joined me no matter how early. This resulted in no meditation and cranky kids. Nope, not good. Evening was out for a variety of reasons but mainly because I was exhausted. Afternoons it would be.

This was difficult because these crazy kids were everywhere! Those of you who are absolutely against screen time please stop reading now..... Did you stop?...If not, you were warned. Yep, I use the tv. I pick something I know will occupy them for a half hour or so. I like them to rest a bit in the afternoons anyway so this serves a dual purpose.

The second thing was I had to release myself of the expectation of how my meditation should look. You know I had this totally serene, beatific scene in my mind's eye. You know it just doesn't work like that most of the time. Instead of timing myself and getting in at least x amount of minutes, I just go for it. What I get is what I get. Pretty Zen, huh? Some days, I get 25  minutes, some days I get 5. Releasing expectations enables me to not get irritated when I am interrupted. You know I am interrupted. I sit in my computer room in my great mediation chair. I can still hear the kids if they need me. But it works, it really does.

This has given me a great opportunity to teach the children about respect. Respect, love, kindness, and compassion are really big deals in this house. I would rather have that than obedience any day of the week. I explain to them what I am doing, my expectations they are quiet and do not interrupt unnecessarily. I explain to them their silence is respectful. They are young so I repeat this pretty much every single times. It has given rise to some great conversations on how we all respect each other. They know mommy is a better mommy if they let her meditate.

Now a quick note on the personal benefits. Meditation has hands down been one of the most transformative things in my life. Even the short meditation I experience each day increases my kindness, my humor, and most importantly, my patience exponentially. I laugh easier. I love more deeply. I connect my those I love even better. It is an amazingly beautiful experience.

I want to meet life each day where it is in that moment. Waiting for the perfect time in my life was an antithesis to that intention. Each day I accept what I get and make the most out of it. And let me tell you, it incredible.

Namaste my friends.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen,

    This really resonates with me. Ive had a meditation practice now for about 4 years. I started just before my little girl was born. The first couple of years were ok in terms of getting the time I needed because I worked at home and my wife was a stay-at-home mom, so we worked it out.

    Now Scarlet is nearly 4, and Gemma and I are separated. I have Scarlet most evenings and mornings, and all day 3 days each week. Talk about a scheduling nightmare!

    But here is how I manage:

    First, on the 4 days I work outside of the house each week I set time when I come in and just before I leave to meditate. This works for me because I work as a clinical case manager, and my supervisors encourage self care. I also have opened up my space to my clients who wish to meditate with me. Ive found this to be an excellent way to help them develop a life long skill, and at the same time group meditation is very powerful for me.

    Second, on the 3 days Im home with Scarlet, I explain to her what I am doing, and why its important not to interrupt unnecessarily (just like you do). This usually work.

    BUT, what I have noticed is that Scarlet is taking more of an interest in what I am doing, and she sometimes sits quietly next to me. So, Ive taken the opportunity to start teaching her meditation as well. At just under 4 years old her attention span is about 3 minutes... but its a start!