Being a parent is wonderful, right? It means you are pretty much guaranteed kisses and hugs daily. You get to listen to the sound of giggles and laughter filling your home. You will get more gifts of artwork to hang on your walls and refrigerator than you have ever received before. And you get to play! I mean really play, and no one will think it is weird. You have a reason to be a kid again! All of these things, plus many many more are what make parenting one of the best adventures out there.
BUT what about when it isn’t so wonderful? What about when all you have heard all day is your kids fighting and you feel like you can’t listen to another moment of it? What about when you’ve got one child sick, another running around naked and screaming and dinner isn’t ready? What about those moments that you just start screaming at your kids because they are driving you crazy? These are the moments that you pray your child doesn’t remember when they grow up.
We have all been there. Parenting is really, and I mean really hard. It can take so much out of you. The constant noise in your house, the messes that get left everywhere, the missed sleep, the feeling as if you are never going to get everything (or anything) done. It is in these moments when we can either let ourselves explode and be overwhelmed by parenting or we can find a way to take a breath and take control of the way we parent.
And I know, you are thinking “there is no stopping me when I am about to explode,” but what if I told you there is a way to calm yourself before the yelling starts? Would you be willing to spend 5 minutes a day on a technique that can help control your temper and improve your time with your kids?
This is where meditation can come in and be an amazing resource. It can give you the strength to stop yourself in your tracks and let you collect your thoughts before you start yelling. The best part is that meditation does not need to be a big to-do that takes up an hour of your day. All you need is 5-10 minutes a day (or even every other day, which is what my husband and I end up doing sometimes, life happens, that’s ok) to reap the benefits of meditation.
And those benefits? A person who meditates routinely will find that they are able to calm themselves down quicker than they previously could. Studies show that meditation can lessen anxiety/stress, lower blood pressure, improve mood and reduce chronic pain. Personally, I find that it just makes me an overall better (less overwhelmed) parent.
And don’t worry if you’re reading this thinking “I’m not even sure what meditation is” or “I’m not into religion”, we’ve all been there. Once you learn what it is and how to do it, you’ll realize it is not that difficult, and does not need to have anything to do with spirituality.
Essentially, meditation is the process of training the mind to remain calm. The point of meditating is to keep your mind concentrated on one thing and ignore all else. That’s it. And don’t worry if you don’t think you can keep your mind blank for any period of time, I have a secret for you: no one can do it. The point of meditation is not to sit there with nothing in your head, it’s practicing removing thoughts from your head as they arrive, and that, my friend, is doable.
Now, lets begin meditating, shall we?
Find a time and space to meditate. You will need to find at least 5 minutes that are quiet. Can you get up 5 minutes before the kids? Or do it right after bed time, maybe right after they leave for school. Pick one time and try to stick to that time, you are more apt to stick with it if it is part of your routine. Once you know when to mediate, then you need to pick where. Find a spot that is quiet and will not have distractions. If the kids are around, then I would suggest an office or bedroom. If they are in bed already, the living room works great, too.
Get comfortable. Pick a position that works for you, some like to lie on his/her back, others sit with their back straight and feet flat on the floor. Pick a position that works for you, just be sure not to be too comfy, you don't want to fall asleep while meditating (been there, done that).
Set a timer. As you begin to meditate, start with only doing it for 5 minutes. Once you get the hang of it and it becomes part of your routine, you can add minutes to it. I find 8 to 10 minutes to be the best timing. Now that your timer is set, press start and close your eyes. (Side note, be sure to pick a calming sound to go off at the end of the timer. Nothing will make you jump more than when a loud horn starts blaring at the end of a meditation session.)
Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. During that breath, try to send any thoughts you have in your head out with the breath. Focus on where you feel your breathing the most. It may be your chest rising and falling, it might be the air leaving your nostrils. Pick a focal point and gently concentrate on it.
Now you are meditating. After that first breath, just breathe normally. Continue to focus on your chosen point. When a thought pops into your head just breathe it out again. It can be helpful to say “no thank you” in your head anytime a thought pops in. Also, feel free to redo the deep breath anytime you want to clear your mind. Just keep it up until your timer goes off!
There you go, you have meditated! And don’t worry if there are thoughts in your head the entire time you are meditating. As long as you are continually trying to return to your focal point, then you are strengthening your meditation muscle and it will get easier as you continue to practice meditation.
Try it for just 5 minutes a day for a week and see what results you get. When you are more comfortable, add some minutes and keep up the routine. Let me know what kind of results you are having in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!