Somewhere in the haze of having three children under three years of age, discovering it was not OK to wear my pyjama pants to mother’s group meetings and burning a microwave meal, I had an enlightened moment.
The moment I clearly had to have, I hear you say?
I realised I needed to take a deep breath – often. This might then allow me to approach parenting, and life in general, in a more considered, calm and focused way. If only I knew how.
Then I remembered what so many people had told me over the years; “You really must try meditation, you would love it, it would be so good for you.” This immediately used to raise the question in my mind, what do they mean good for me? Is something wrong with me? And just like that, I would dismiss it as being not for me. Well, I could not sit still longer than a minute anyway.
But at that pyjama-clad, burnt plastic meal moment many years ago, I knew the time had finally come. So I did it. I sourced a local ‘guru’ who, within a week, started to teach me the art of meditation. Of taking the time to sit and just be (in between dressing, feeding, bathing, cooking and working that is!). It was over these early morning sessions that I realised it was not just about me. This was actually the greatest gift I could not only give myself but my children, husband and everyone around me.
And all this was before I knew what the experts had to say. Over the years that followed I practiced meditation regularly and became the renowned soapbox advocate amongst friends and family.
Come to think of it, I did start to notice people avoiding me at BBQs?
This compulsion to know more was not just because I was feeling the benefits, I wanted to discover more about why I felt so much clearer and calmer. What was actually happening? So, like all resourceful mums, I did some research. I found studies from Harvard University showing that meditation decreases the stress response of the part in the lower brain that modulates stress levels while also activating those brain areas involved in emotional control.
So there it was, why I felt calmer and more relaxed and why I could cope more easily when all three children in nappies decided that it would be fun to be ‘in sync’. By the way, fun for who?
I noticed I could actually read a book again without finishing a page in a book and thinking, what did all those words say again? That is because by meditating, I was training my brain to focus and pay attention. It of course always had some ability to focus but by practicing meditation regularly, it was enhancing my brain’s ability to do this and for longer periods.
As my children entered school I started seeing a number of anxious young people, children that found it challenging to stay focused in class and that already lacked the resilience they might need to make their way in the world. It got me thinking, what if I could teach my kids to meditate?
And so it began. I was prepared for the talking, the fidgeting, the whining…but guess what? There wasn’t any. The thing is, our children do not have the years of conditioning to ‘multi task’ and ‘hurry’ and ‘do’. So they are naturals. They in fact, can teach us a lot about being in the present moment and how to get into a mindful state simply by brushing their teeth.
Like us all, they have their moments. And when they do, like us, just accept them and perhaps try another time or another way.
Whether for yourself or your children – or better yet both – continue to persist with meditation. The power it has to help you manage stress and be the person and parent you want to be is truly amazing. So don’t be like I was and view meditation for either yourself or your children as Mission: Impossible. It is very possible. In fact, it will possibly be the healthiest habit you teach them that will remain in their emotional tool-belt for life.