“Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah: The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” ~ The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, book I, verse II. (As translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda.)
A year ago, my best friend Karen talked me into going to a yoga class.
I wasn’t really into the idea of stretching in a room full of strangers with my spandex on, but the flow of the yoga postures felt great after sitting at my desk all day. The guided meditation at the end felt a little awkward at first, but by the end of it, the stress of the long work week had melted away.
I hadn’t realized how stressed I was before I started meditating regularly. My mind felt calmer, and my body felt (and looked) better than ever. Even my mom noticed. She asked me what my secret was.
If you met my mom, you would see that I inherited her restless mind and desire to stay busy. But staying busy doesn’t have to mean staying stressed.
Mom was skeptical, but with a gentle introduction, I successfully got her on the meditation train. Here’s how I did it:
Share the history of meditation.
Mom is suspicious of new health fads. But yoga and meditation aren’t just fads. People have practiced them for thousands of years. Learning the history of meditation quieted Mom’s fears of starting something new and untested.
Practice where she’s comfortable.
Mom was uncomfortable with the idea of paying money to “sit and think,” as she put it. Plus, she had never been in a yoga studio and was wary of what that would be like. Rather than force her further out of her comfort zone, I brought meditation to her. I planned out a series of meditation practices that Mom could try from the comfort of her living room, and integrate meditation into her daily routine.
I particularly enjoy guided Yoga Nidra meditation, but I soon learned that Mom doesn’t have the time or patience to lie still for an hour. It wasn’t worth forcing her to do it with me either—she would never keep it up on her own. I took a step back and looked at her lifestyle. She spends her free time gardening and takes a daily walk at 4 p.m. So, I introduced Mom to active meditation. She now has a favorite walking meditation that she listens to as she cruises around her neighborhood.
Be there to support her.
Mom wanted to be less stressed, but doing meditation for the first time was stressful all on its own. She didn’t admit it, but me being there with her made it a lot easier for her to relax.
When starting anything new, a great support system is key. I practiced meditation with Mom for several weeks before she started doing it on her own. Once she was comfortable, I brought her to her local meditation circle. She was blown away by the amount of support she received. She made some new friends, and now she talks to people besides me about her meditation practice.
Notice the positive effects.
I always make a point of telling Mom about the changes I’ve seen in her since she’s started. She’s been less stressed, her bad days are easier to get through, and she’s made new friends at the meditation circle. And best of all is how much closer we’ve become. Together we share the joys (and frustrations) that meditation brings.
Keep up with the “om” work.
Meditation is a daily challenge. It’s not perfect or whole. Some days, Mom finds it easy to practice her meditation. Other days, she’s calling me and telling me how much she hates it. No matter what she says, I remind her that it’s called “practice” for a reason: It’s an ongoing process.
My favorite moment of this journey so far? When my mom called me on the phone and said, “I’m glad that you introduced me to this. It makes me smile—and then I think about you, and my smile grows even bigger.”
Author: Tracy Layden
Image: Courtesy of Alert-1
Editor: Catherine Monkman