In exactly 12 days I turn 35.
In my 35 years I have accomplished some things, failed at others, attended a Buddhist Liberal Arts University in Boulder, Colorado, practiced meditation, got married, had two kids and moved to Maine.
In this time I have tried to maintain a steady practice of mindfulness and meditation. Some years have been slim; some have been steady and some non-existent. Overall, I have learned that parenting brings a whole new meaning to how my meditation practice looks in my day.
It is a little different but does the trick just the same.
I had once lived in a world of smug self assurance believing that I could do anything. A sort of sense that no matter what life threw at me I could always go back to my breath (and my meditation cushion) and all would be right again.
Little did I know that the challenges of parenthood would rock my practice to its core. I suddenly noticed that meditation started occurring in the strangest of places. Scenarios in which I would never had pictured myselfpre-children suddenly became commonplace.
I understood that while sitting on my meditation cushion was a fantastic way of practicing, even better were the humbling experiences to which only my children could bring me.
Stomach Flu Hits in the Local TJMaxx.
It was a rainy day and so I thought what better way to spend the morning with the two year old than going to shop for some new shoes and browse around the wares at the local store. As the neon lights buzzed overhead, carts rolled by and Richard Marx played in the background, my son began to grow a look on his face that was somewhat familiar but that I could not quite place.
As he sat (seemingly) happily in the cart, I bent down to make a cutesy face when it hit.
First the heaves, then the bile.
I automatically reached out my arms to catch the offense. It was as though time stopped. I could feel the eyes of the other patrons looking at me wondering what the ruckus (and smell) was all about. It was all I could do to stay calm.
Then suddenly as quickly as it started there was silence.
I stood there dripping and unsure of what to do next for what felt like an eternity. I continued focusing on the in and out of my breath.
As my anxiety levels spiked I let the thoughts go.
In and out. In and out.
It was the only thing keeping me in my proverbial seat.
In the end, a kind employee came in to save the day with paper towels and a mop, reassuring me that this “happens all the time.”
It was in this moment that my understanding of how I could incorporate a meditation and mindfulness practice in my life shifted and evolved. I no longer could use the excuses of “I don’t have the time” or “It is such a luxury to take 15 minutes and sit.”
Meditation is right there in front of me, everyday—when the kids are crying or whining or just plain miserable, when they are happy and laughing and imagining a wild world through play.
Watching them and staying present while focusing on the in and out of breath as we move through this wild life keeps me here practicing everyday right where I want to be—alongside them.
Even if there are heaves and bile.
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Assist Ed: Sanja Cloete-Jones/Ed: Bryonie Wise