Clear Mind, Better Mama: How I Hope Meditating Will Help Guide Me Through Motherhood

While the threes can be tiring, I wouldn't trade anything for this time ... this boy.
While the threes can be tiring, I wouldn’t trade anything for this time … this boy.

The long and the short of it is that it took me more than three years to get pregnant. Being the eternal optimist, bright-side seeker that I am, I reasoned that it allowed me the experience and the time I needed to develop skills, like patience and consistency, that I knew I would draw on when raising a child.

Baby born. NICU (another story). Great eater. Great sleeper. Reasonable tot. Then we hit the threes. Nothing like the consistency of a toddler’s independent nature and opinion-voicing backtalk to break down your foundation of patience. Add boy to that equation, and you have a physical tornado that loves and challenges with equal ferocity. I hate to admit, but it has resulted in me raising my voice many times. You know, that’s letting me off the hook. I’ve yelled. Not fist-clenched, blood-vein-bulging yell, but loud enough that I’m not proud of it. It’s not the way I thought I would handle myself.

I really thought I was cooler/smarter/more even-keeled than that. I thought that his silly tantrums over the most benign things and his figuring out boundaries and rules and communication would be good opportunities to teach and, honestly, make me giggle a little. And for the most part, it does, and we laugh a lot in our home. I can immediately find that peace, joy, and calm I’m searching for when I look at my little one and he is content and good . . . and still. But that doesn’t really count, does it?

So that’s the problem. What about a solution? I think I’ve found it. At least, for me: Meditation.

Stay with me here. I know it may be be a polarizing word–one that may make you immediately jump back to a place in the ’70s when you knew that one neighbor who “recycled.” How committed was that guy? Things, of course, have changed and you have now labeled “that guy” as the one who throws everything into one trash can. We’ve all come around.

Meditation has the same mystique. Although you’ve read about the benefits of meditating–how it positively affects everything from mental health to blood pressure–it is still uncharted territory. Where do you start?

I first heard of meditation from my best friend’s mom while we were in high school. I’m sure that in private, we mildly mocked her quiet spot and candles and scents. But deep down I was intrigued with the idea of settling those voices in my head. At that time, the notion was very foreign to a girl who tried to think everything through 20 times before she acted.

I reencountered the idea when ABC news anchor Dan Harris released his book, 10% Happier, earlier this year. He tackled the subject like I would . . . skeptically. After an on-air panic attack threatened to sideline him, he examined a recourse, meditation, from every angle, reporting and investigating what lies beneath. He ultimately came to the conclusion that meditation is helpful. And I have, too.

I asked my neighbor–Yogi and fellow mama Rebecca Butler, who I admire for her uplifting mantra of “choose joy” and the genuinely thoughtful leadership that she’s given the Fort Worth community–where she would recommend starting. (I also checked out her site, where she offers her own inspirational writing and yoga workshops, conferences, and retreats. She also has a free podcast.) Without hesitation she said that Lorin Roche is her favorite teacher. A quick google search and it’s easy to see that the doctor is definitely a leader in mediation. I spent hours on his site reading material about: the different types of meditation, the benefits, and the three different ways to getting started. I downloaded his Meditation Made Easy. It’s a helpful easy-to-digest resource.

But no matter whom you listen to and what you read, most will agree on a basic meditation practice to start:

  1. Sit comfortably . . . which ever way that is. And yes, upright in your chair at your work desk is just fine, as long as you are comfortable.
  2. Concentrate on your breath . . . how it feels when it expands your chest or belly or how it feels going in and out of your nose.
  3. When your mind wanders, return your focus to your breath. Gently, we’re not looking to beat ourselves up over something else here.
  4. Do it daily. Anywhere.

There are more tips and greater depths that you can explore. But I can tell you that this minimal trial will prove to you that it is beneficial. Remember to start small. Use a variety of resources, like websites and apps. They offer guidance, techniques, and even timers so that you don’t have to worry about how long you’ve been at it. I’ve used Headspace, an app that walks you through a 10-day sequence, educating on technique; Calm, Mindful Meditation, and Smiling Mind are also good for beginners; and the Walking Meditation app allows you to multitask–clear your mind as you stroll through your neighborhood. There’s definitely an approach for any type of mama.

And there are many meditation resources and pop up opportunities in Fort Worth, too. From Fort Worth Community Arts Center in the Museum District, which hosts a guided lunchtime Relaxation Meditation every Friday, to Near Southside’s Fort Worth Meditation center that offers a regular schedule of classes (think gym schedule), there are many opportunities to try a guided meditation session, talk to someone, and pick up more information.

I also read sites like Mind Body Green, which is dedicated to revitalization and wellness. Subscribe and getting daily reading material that’ll lift you up and encourage you to be the best version of yourself. If we nurture ourselves, even in what seems like the smallest ways, we are better able to nurture our little ones.

I know that there have been many more times when I have handled frustrating situations with Will with patience and understanding than with raising my voice. As with most of us mamas, we constantly question if we are doing it right. When I examine our relationship and I see how much he trusts and loves me, I know I’m doing my best. Will is going to be a 4 year old in about two months, and this has been an interesting stage, but like with all the other stages, I know I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

How do you handle the stresses of motherhood?

 

Jennifer
Jennifer and her hubby, Michael agree that Fort Worth is the best place to have a family. For the past two decades Jennifer has been writing about her loves — music, food and Fort Worth — for local newspapers, magazines, websites and weeklies. This is her first opportunity to write about a new love, her son Will, and the influence his arrival has made on her view of the world … especially Fort Worth. Keeping him in mind, she has unlocked little treasures and adventures she didn’t know existed in this town and continues to discover great gems to share with her little one. She lives in the Cultural District with Michael, Will and her favorite girl — her lab, Tatum.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for sharing! I meditated before I became a mom and you’ve reminded me of its importance. I will start again. Sharing your same toddler challenges, I also was not handling situations well. So I decided to have a “no yelling” home and really include my son in decisions and discussion. I recently found out this is called Peaceful Parenting. Goes well with meditating! ; )

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here