When I say the words “mindful meditation,” what image comes to mind? Something akin to a Buddhist monk sitting cross-legged in a tranquil garden, right? He’s wearing robes; his eyes are closed. He is chanting, “Ohmmmmm.” Do you see it?
While it is true that many Buddhists have some sort of meditation practice as a pathway to enlightenment, mindful meditation is certainly not limited to monks. In fact, I would argue that most everyone can benefit from meditating – especially you busy moms.
We’ve reached a point in our society where it is fashionable to be stressed. If we are not overscheduled, stretched to our limits and ready to pull our hair out, somehow we are not giving it our all as women. The fault in this thinking becomes clear once we pause for a moment to contemplate. If our brains and bodies are stretched up to or beyond the breaking point, what kind of message is that sending to our children? Enter mindful meditation.
Before you dismiss the idea outright, relax – I’m not going to force you to go sit in a garden. However, I might encourage you to think about planting a garden this spring, if it is something you enjoy. The way I incorporate mindful meditation into my day is to seek out peaceful opportunities to clear my mind, quiet my thoughts, slow my breathing and relax. I know you are busy and don’t have a lot of time; these practices can be done quickly but still reduce stress and take the weight of the world off your shoulders.
There are many ways to meditate – some are more involved than others. My favorite time and space to practice mindful meditation is at the end of my yoga practice. (I am an instructor at Morning Sun Yoga in Bellevue, and I’d love for you to attend a class!) But you can reap the benefits of a meditation session with just a few steps:
- Find any quiet, calm, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Allow yourself to clear your mind; give yourself permission to take these few moments for your mental health and well-being.
- Draw your attention to your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale. Continue to focus on nothing more than drawing air in and letting air out.
- If thoughts creep in or your mind starts to wander, gently and without judgment guide yourself back to your breath.
Just a few minutes of mind-clearing meditation, and you will feel calmer, less stressed and more relaxed. The benefits increase and the practice becomes easier if you incorporate mindful meditation into your daily routine. Some examples:
- If you pick up kids from school, try arriving five to 10 minutes early. Not only will you get a better spot in the pickup line, but you’ll also have an opportunity to shut off the radio, turn off your phone and block out the world. (Maybe set a timer to gently bring you back to reality.)
- Take up a hobby that requires little or no active thinking, like the aforementioned gardening. When pulling weeds or watering flowers, allow your mind to clear and your breathing to deepen. I’ve heard a zen-like mindful meditation state can also occur through repetitive motions, like knitting or working a rowing machine.
- Give yourself one extra minute at the end of your shower (assuming your kids let you take a shower) and close your eyes. Breathe in the steam, the smell of your soap. Allow your mind to focus on nothing more than the feeling of the warm water on your skin.
None of these working for you? Then lock yourself away at the end of the day for five minutes of mom relaxation. Choose your favorite yoga pose (mine is legs up the wall) or just lie down with your eyes closed. Soothing music and essential oils are great but not required; all you need to do is relax, focus on your breath and let go all thoughts from your day.
Do you have a mindful meditation tip to share? We’d love to read about it in the comments!