I’m going to hazard a guess that if you are reading this article about wanting a calm motherhood, you’re looking for a solution to the overwhelm.
Maybe you’ve considered meditation before, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you picture a big Buddah-like figure in a cross-legged position in the middle of an Ashram with incense burning and candles flickering all around.
As a tired suburban mom of two, let me tell you that my meditation looks nothing like that.
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Meditation — for me — looks like opening up an app, finding a 10-minute guided meditation, popping in my headphones, closing my eyes, and letting go. All right before I go to bed at night.
In combination with consistent therapy, meditation has provided a way to relieve stress at the end of the day and maintain balance throughout the day, even when chaos abounds. Here’s how to do it.
Feeling the Effects of Meditation Takes Time
When I started working with a new therapist at the beginning of 2021, she strongly encouraged me to start meditating. I was very skeptical. I’d tried to meditate here and there over the years but didn’t feel the benefits so I didn’t stick with it.
What she told me — and what helped me to stick with it — was that it takes about 60 days to feel “results” from meditation. Not that you need to meditate every day for 60 days straight but that a consistent practice of four to five times a week will reap many benefits by the two-month mark.
And she was right.
I’ll never forget the first spring after I started meditating. I was sitting in our backyard with my toddler son on our swing set and the warm, gentle breeze just felt different on my skin. Almost like I could feel it more than I ever had, like I had more of an awareness of it, surely a direct result of practicing presence via meditation.
How Meditation Helps Me Be a Better Mother
What once felt like a homework assignment from my therapist, meditation is now a vital part of my daily self-care routine. It doesn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes. I always feel better after I do. Since I’m less likely to ruminate after doing a meditation, I fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
After the aforementioned 60-day mark, I started to see a big difference in how I related to my family and other people in my life who caused me stress. I had more patience and was able to take a beat before responding or reacting (a vital skill when you’re with your children all day).
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If I had known that developing a consistent meditation practice was the key to managing stress and becoming less reactive, I would’ve done it a lot sooner.
How to Get Started with Meditation
Two popular apps for meditation are Headspace, which has a free trial period, and InsightTimer, which has a free version and a premium version. I use InsightTimer and have found the free version to be more than enough for what I need.
I choose “guided” meditations, meaning the teacher talks you through the session and helps you calm your body and nervous system.
You can meditate at any time during the day. I prefer to meditate before I go to sleep at night so I don’t lay awake ruminating. I also make sure I beef up my meditation if I know I’m going into a stressful season or situation (the holidays, time with people who stress me out, etc.)
My therapist recommended a few specific meditation leaders to start with: Tara Brach and Andrea Wachter. Both teachers were fantastic to start building a meditation practice. I’ve since branched out to find progressive body relaxation meditations and sleep-specific meditations.
I’ll say this once, I’ll say it a hundred times: Give meditation at least 60 days. I know that feels like a long time to do something without seeing a huge benefit, but I promise that once the benefits kick in, it will be worth it.
Most of us want to be really present with our children. But many of us find it difficult to get away from the distractions, the dings and pings, the daily stress . . . . Meditation has been a tool to help me set aside my worry and focus on my kids, even if only for a few minutes at a time (better than zero minutes, right?)