When I was a little girl, I would often wander around my house looking for my dad. When I couldn’t find him, I knew he was in his closet meditating. I would either wait for him to be done, or sometimes I would decide to join him.
When I chose to meditate with my dad, he would give me these beads to hold. I would close my eyes and count them and attempt to not think of anything besides those beads. The goal was to disconnect from my thoughts and still my mind. The ultimate reward was that through this practice, I would discover who I really was. As I grew older, I would sporadically meditate, but never consistently, and I never achieved even a fraction of the self-awareness that my dad did.
I never gave meditation much thought as a little girl. It was just part of my dad’s daily routine, and I liked being part of it…but as an adult, I think it’s kind of amazing that my dad – who learned about and practiced transcendental meditation from the time he was in undergraduate school, and has maintained it all the way into his sixties – found something that grounds him and brings him the self-connectedness that probably every human being needs.
The Realities of a Fast-Paced Life
Living in this fast-paced, forward-motion world can definitely take its toll on us, especially on mothers. We are constantly juggling all the components we think we need to do to feel like a good mom, and often we have much more on our plates than we can handle. If you’re anything like me, you go, go, go and then you reach a point where you feel so burnt out that if you don’t catch a break soon, you are going to explode.
Every time I reach these simmering points, I tell my husband I need a break. He always understands, but he doesn’t necessarily do much to help that break happen. It’s up to me to figure out what I need. Normally, I’ll choose a weekend day that he can be home with the kids and I can go out with my Mom or a friend for the day. It’s helpful, but honestly it’s not a long-term solution.
If we did something on a daily basis that helped to combat our stress, anxiety, and rush to complete our endless list of tasks, perhaps we wouldn’t burn ourselves out and we would enjoy life and motherhood much more, and we wouldn’t feel as much need for an “escape” when life gets to be too much.
Meditation could be the solution. We all know that meditation has many benefits. Some include:: reducing anxiety and depression, improving concentration, slowing down the aging process, improving cardiovascular and immune health, and increasing our overall happiness. A recent article in the Harvard Gazette stated that the popularity of practicing mindfulness-based meditation has risen drastically in recent years, partly because of scientific research linking this practice with the improvement of chronic mental and physical disorders.
It’s a tool people have used for centuries to calm the body and to keep the mind in the present. There are many different ways to meditate, so you can experiment with what style works best for you, and you can be in control of how long to practice.
Making Meditation Accessible
Recently, meditation has made its way back into my life. About a year ago, I was visiting a friend in Pennsylvania – she coined it “MomVegas” because it was my first real breather from the daily grind of being a SAHM. As I blabbered on about how stressful my kids were and how I never have time to myself, she asked me if I’ve ever tried using a meditation app. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, but apparently if you search the App Store of your phone, there is a plethora of options. She told me about the one she uses called Calm, that really helps her get through the stresses of her daily life. She said you can choose the amount of time you want to devote to meditating, and it can be as short as five minutes if that’s all you have to give that day. I told myself I was going to look into it, and even though I had the genuine intention to, I got back to my life and completely forgot about it.
Beginning the Practice of Meditation
Fast forward to now:: I just moved back into my re-modeled house that flooded from Hurricane Harvey, and I have been scrambling to get all the minor fixes sorted out, furniture delivered, completing some freelance work and getting routines back to normal. I have been feeling like no matter how fast I move, I can’t catch up. And when it’s time to finally lay my head down on the pillow, my brain is rapidly firing at a thousand thoughts per minute. Even when I was resting, I couldn’t really rest.
So last week I decided to do something about it. I downloaded that app my friend recommended and have begun a seven-day guided meditation. The guide in the app warns you that it may be hard in the beginning to let all the thoughts go, but just like anything in life, with enough practice and consistency, it will get easier and you will become much more relaxed, focused, sleep better, and manage yourself and the people in your life better.
In a separate instance, my parenting coach – who practices mindfulness and yoga on a regular basis – introduced us to her meditation guru from India. She led a few guided meditation sessions, and I attended one of them. When the session was over, I couldn’t remember the last time I felt more relaxed, revitalized, or more connected with myself. I felt “hooked” and wanted more of whatever that was. The best part about that session was that I didn’t necessarily need her to guide me each time I wanted to feel that way. She taught me some tools on how to access a place in my mind that I could go to whenever I felt the need, even if I was in the carpool line waiting to pick up my kids.
Making Meditation a Priority
Throughout my adult life, I have noticed that certain themes and patterns present themselves frequently and simultaneously, as if they are trying to get my attention. These two recent meditative occurrences have been my sign to slow down, and I have made the conscious decision to make meditation part of my life. I plan to experiment with my app, and also try the tools that the guru taught me. It will be a work in progress, and it might not happen every day, but I do believe it will be a welcome respite in my frazzled life…and perhaps one day I will achieve a similar type of enlightenment and self-awareness that has kept my dad going for all these years.