I hit the wall last year.
I had not coped well with my daughter’s screaming tantrums, and I felt depressed and helpless. I started losing control when she threw fits, and I was known to slam a door and shout back at her. I had to change in my mindset and behavior for both my daughter’s and my sanity.
I started meditating.
For years, I had heard about the benefits of meditation, including increased clarity and focus, reduced stress and anxiety, elimination of depression, a calm mind, and better sleep. I gave myself a 40-day meditation challenge and have been sitting silently daily since then, without missing a day. My morning meditation has made a huge difference.
Every morning, I roll out of bed and sit cross-legged on a cushion. I tuck two blocks under my knees, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and work my fingers around my mala beads. I feel more content, calmer, and better able to help my daughter navigate her intense emotions.
Below, find six tips for meditation that can help prevent meltdowns for moms:
1. Mindful Breathing
When we are stressed or anxious, we often breathe shallowly into our chests. By breathing deeply into your belly, you use your breath to calm your body and mind. Place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest, then feel the gentle rise and fall of your breath with a three-count inhale followed by a three-count exhale. Close your eyes, too, if that feels comfortable. You can return to this breathing technique throughout the day to deal with parenting challenges.
As moms, our minds are bombarded with kid stuff: making meals, driving them around, playdates, setting up kids’ activities, and struggling through bedtime. The purpose of mindfulness and meditation is learning to live in the present moment. By letting go of the anxieties of the past and the worries of the future, you can fully experience what’s in front of you, moment by moment. By listening to your breath or the sounds around you during your meditation practice, you begin to quiet your busy thoughts and start to feel calm.
Do you find yourself analyzing everything that you think, say, and do? And then you judge yourself, right? These negative thoughts can affect the whole family. Saying a positive statement (mantra) to yourself during your meditation practice can greatly affect how you feel. For example, think “I can do this” during an inhale and “Yes, I can” during an exhale. Or “calm” during an inhale and “peace” during an exhale. My favorite mantra when my daughter was an infant was “This, too, shall pass.” My current mantra during my morning meditation is, “Happy, healthy, wealthy.” I fill my thoughts with images of happiness, good health, and abundance for myself and others. It makes me feel more empowered, confident, and hopeful.
4. Morning Ritual
Meditating for five to 15 minutes every morning has helped to make this practice a habit, just like brushing my teeth. Starting the day by breathing deeply sets me up for a more relaxed morning. My daughter seems to experience the benefits, too. Not to say that my morning meditation has stopped my daughter’s tantrums, but I’m better able to cope with her outbursts. I have found that I sleep better after a few rounds of mindful breathing, and then when I wake up, I’m refreshed and looking forward to sitting silently on my cushion. You might prefer to meditate during the day or in the evening. Do whatever suits you.
5. “Me Time”
I think I kissed “me time” goodbye the day I gave birth. Though I can only dream of taking a nap or a stroll alone through the forest or sitting quietly on a rock overlooking the ocean, I think of my meditation as “me time.” It’s a chance to turn inward and take a break from the chaos of raising a family. These precious minutes help me ground myself and manage my feelings.
I started to see the benefits of meditation pretty much right away. I started to feel more calm and positive. Sure, I still lose it once in a while, but I’m better able to apologize for my behavior, forgive myself, and move on. I am learning to embrace my humanness and turn around my negative thoughts. After reading dozens of parenting books, I’ve found that having a positive mindset is actually one of the best things I can do as a mom.
It’s hard to believe that simply sitting silently, breathing deeply, and thinking positive thoughts for a few minutes every day could have such a profound impact. But hey, if it works, then I’ll keep meditating—and that’s good enough for me!
Author: Giselle Shardlow
Image: Lubomir Simek / Flickr
Editor: Sara Kärpänen