Written by Laura Liss, yoga instructor and mindfulness expert.
Advice from one struggling to be mindful parent to another!
Parenting: I’ve been at this thing for 23 years now, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that there are no hard or fast rules. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, thrilling, yet terrifying adventure. There is so much pressure to “do it right”—to provide your little one with rich experiences and lessons of loving kindness, all the while making sure they are secure, yet not spoiled; confident, yet open to change; able to express their opinions, while remaining sensitive and empathetic to others. No matter how well prepared you are, the best-laid plan can often go to (literal) poop.
This being responsible for someone else’s every need thing can be (oh-so) demanding, that it’s hard to find time for self-care. The catch-22 is that in order to be there for others, we need to take care of ourselves.
What’s the solution? Well, an ability to stop time, or to add a few hours in a day might work. But failing that, there’s meditation. If you’re rolling your eyes because who has time to meditate on top of everything else, and even the word sounds too indulgent, replace it with “mindfulness,” or “breath consciousness.”
Whatever you call it, I promise you can squeeze it in, because on a simple level—no matter how tired or out of shape you feel (been there!) you have to breathe anyway! Start by noticing your breath. Okay, now you’ve brought some awareness to it, the next step is to lengthen it. Inhale and count to three, then let go, also to the count of three. If this is comfortable extend your inhales/exhales even longer—using slow, deep, and even breaths.
Close your eyes and do it. No one’s looking. When you’re ready, open your eyes again and read what comes next.
Do you notice you feel a sense of calm? And by doing this (whether it’s in the car—eyes OPEN if you’re in the car!, on the playground, or when faced with serious challenges) you may find some space between your thoughts and your reactions. This tiny lapse in time may make a huge difference in how you react to the world—possibly becoming more present and even more patient. And when you change how you react to the world, the world changes how it reacts to you—possibly returning the same kindness and compassion back to you!
If you want to go further with your meditation practice, there are many different kinds to try—they include walking, Transcendental, Kundalini, candle-gazing, knitting, and on and on.
In my opinion, the hands-down easiest way to get into the habit is to try Andy Puddicombe’s guided meditation on the Headspace App. You can also view his Ted Talk called, “All it takes is 10 Mindful Minutes” to get a feel for what he’s like. (Warning–I’ve seen non-believers turn into mediators!) I find him adorable, refreshing and inspiring. He puts it all into perspective—which is exactly what meditation can do for all of us exasperated parents!
Extra Fun & Scientific Benefits of Meditation
- Increases gray matter in the brain (associated with
learning, memory, self-awareness and compassion)
If this isn’t enough I’ll keep going…
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Lengthens attention span
- May reduce age-related memory loss
- Can generate kindness
- May help fight addiction
Other highly recommended Apps are Insight Timer & Dan Harris’s 10% Happier Podcast/App.
Check out our own video on breathing and meditation for new parents!
Check out our own Yoga for Relaxation for New Parents!