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June 23, 2016

How to Start Meditating—Even with Kids & a Job.

 mother busy phone

Most moms laugh at the thought of finding time to meditate.

The idea of sitting on a cushion for 20 minutes and trying to empty my mind while the chaos of kids and work swirls around me is ridiculous.

Sure, I can meditate during a silent weekend retreat in the Himalayas—but at home, chasing my half-naked toddler to put her in the bath while my work email piles up? Never.

But is being a parent a chance for mindfulness?

In his book, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, everyone’s favorite Buddhist, JKZ (Jon Kabat Zinn) helped switch my mindset. As he says in an interview with Yes Magazine

“Sometimes it’s wonderful to just be very, very still for long periods of time, but for most of us, that can only happen occasionally. The real meditative practice is to open up to the full range of what happens in life. And parenting is a fantastic arena for doing that kind of spiritual training. It’s as much a potential door into enlightenment as anything else.

The lightbulb went on for me when I realized that the practice of meditation is not to empty your mind, but to watch your mind as you try to give attention to the present moment. When your mind wanders, take note of the subject, and ever so gently bring your attention back to the experience of the present moment.

That’s it.

Your mind could be flitting from thought to thought like a humming bird in a flower garden, and you’d still be meditating if you noticed that you were doing it. You then interrupt that cycle, and redirect your attention.

Now, I won’t lie: having a bulletproof system for tracking your to-dos and keeping yourself organized goes a long way toward finding peace in the present moment. As moms, we’ve got a lot to keep track of. If you find your mind is constantly wandering toward your to-do list, it could be that you need better systems in your life.

But being a mom and being busy doesn’t mean we can’t meditate.

The best part of knowing that meditation is about noticing your mind rather than emptying your mind means that we can meditate while doing anything. Wash the dishes, and notice if your mind is there with the dishes or stirring up anxiety about all you still have to do. If you’re noticing, you’re meditating.

Fold the laundry and notice the texture of the fabric and the way you feel when you look at your toddler’s tiny socks. Redirect your mind when it wanders off to checking your work email on your phone. Now you’re meditating.

Or my favorite activity: play with your children, and notice the color of their eyes, the sound of their laugh and their expression of joy on their little faces. Notice all the details, memorize them, cherish them.

Redirect your wandering mind back to them. Don’t let this beautiful moment slip by. Our presence is our mom meditation.

 

Author: Katie Jay

Image: mfrascella/Flickr

Editors: Catherine Monkman; Yoli Ramazzina

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Katie Jay