Why I Need Meditation
I got both kids in the car, running back into the house no less than three times to retrieve lovies, toy cars, water bottles. When we finally made it to playgroup, my preschooler watched closely, but would not play with, the other kids there. She screamed when she fell down on the playground. My baby shoved sand, sticks and leaves in his mouth the second I turned away.
Finally fed up, I gathered all of our things again and endured the meltdowns on the way home. I made lunches during said meltdowns and fed the kids. Finally, I achieved the parenting triple axel of both kids napping at the same time.
And just like at the end of a 4-minute long skating program, I was fried. Usually, I would collapse in front of the TV and watch 20 minutes of SNL while eating dark chocolate. But then 20 minutes would turn into 60. The baby would start babbling early and I would kick myself for not doing anything restorative to prepare me for the next onslaught of parenting.
So for the past few weeks I’ve been collapsing on the couch with a cup of peppermint tea instead. I stare out the window at the trees moving in the wind. I breath in the beautiful smells and breath out the stress. Basically, I meditate. I am restored and I am noticeably less annoyed when the baby wakes early from his nap.
Let Your Meditation Evolve
I’ve been meditating, with varying consistency, for about ten years. In the beginning, I was doggedly proper about it, as I am with most new pursuits. I attended a meditation class at the local Buddhist center and I searched online for days for the perfect “meditation pillow” to sit on (one of my favorite parts of a new pursuit is online shopping for the “gear”). I found a small meditation bowl to chime when I was beginning and ending my session. I’d burn insence, sit on this small mound of satin-encased buckwheat, stare into the middle distance, and breathe for 20 minutes. It was revelatory.
But as my life evolved, so my meditation practice had to as well. I found it difficult to sit on the pillow comfortably because of issues with my hips, so I moved to a hard backed chair. Then I found it hard to find 20 minute stretches because I was working longer hours. Soon I found it difficult to meditate at all without falling asleep because pregnancy brought about exhaustion like I’d never experienced.
Each evolution brought about a break in my practice until I could release my vision of how one should meditate, and just focus on how I could meditate.I had to release my vision of how one should meditate, and just focus on how I could meditate. Click To Tweet
Try Different Types of Meditation to Find a Realistic Daily Practice
Luckily, with the help of Voltaire and a very wise friend, I finally realized that I was allowing the “perfect to be the enemy of the good.” I loosened up my requirements for meditation. I began using apps like Calm and Headspace on my morning ferry commute to guide me through meditations and keep me awake. I meditated reclined and for shorter periods of time to ease the strain on my pregnant body.
Now, with two little ones, I find I barely have 20 minutes a day to sit down, much less meditate. I far prefer lying propped up on my couch to sitting up straight for those 20 minutes.
So I decided to embrace good smells, as Gretchen Rubin suggests in her Happiness Project podcast. I breathe in some delicious smelling tea – peppermint is energizing – prop myself up on my favorite couch and stare out the window letting my thoughts blow by with the wind in the trees.
When the tea is gone, my meditation is done, and I am restored enough to deal with my long to do list. I’m sure it would be more effective to meditate the “proper” way for a longer period of time. But some meditation is better than none at all, so I will continue this practice as long as it serves me.
I’ve also incorporated a moving meditation while I do my one-minute workout in the pool. I love knocking out two self-care habits in one go. It’s hard for me to keep my mind from wandering while swimming but swimming thoughts are pretty useless because I can’t write my ideas down and I drive myself crazy trying to remember them. So now I repeat the mantra “out, in” matching my breath as I swim, and “go, go go!” during my fast half laps. I also focus on the feel of the water to stay mindful.
Meditation makes me feel restored, connected, calm. Besides feeling good in the moment, it is good for me on a meta-level as well. Meditation has been linked to improved physical and mental health, happiness, even slowing the signs of aging. I just had to find a practice that worked for me. I hope these tips help you find a type of meditation that works for you too!
How do you quiet your mind during a hectic time? Let me know in the comments!
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