Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why Meditation for Parents?

People often say to me, "I can't meditate: I have to much to do". Or, "I can't meditate: I'm too stressed". Or, "I can't meditate: it hurts too much sit."

Each person's path is so very unique. Everything has it's time and only you know what...and when. So I'll speak here from my own experience as to why, as a parent, I make sure I find time each day to meditate, even if it's only for a minute.

My life has changed radically since I sat down for the very first time to meditate on a futon one afternoon nine years ago in a cramped studio apartment in downtown New York City. I set a timer for five minutes, then attempted to repeat a mantra which I'd found in a book. What a nightmare. Just awful. The promised peace of mind was so painfully absent. I was on deadline for two different magazines. (I'd never had more than one deadline at a time before and I felt tremendous pressure to do a great job -- which felt impossibly beyond my capabilities.) I had hoped that meditation might help me calm down enough to get my confidence back. It most certainly did not.

When that five minute timer rang I literally had just pressed "Send" on an email that I'd just finished composing to one of my editors. I actually remember the moment when I leapt from the futon, perhaps a minute or two into my meditation. I remember the experience of feeling utterly tortured by my thoughts. I had a lot of back pain back then, which I discovered that day made sitting still excruciating. But it was those darn thoughts that ruled my life and ruined my meditation. I simply couldn't allow myself to believe that what I thought I needed to do so urgently could actually wait. It took months before I found the courage to try it again.

Nine years later, I'm the mother of an almost three year-old daughter who this morning threw a massive 90 minute tantrum. There was just no way that I could have withstood it without doing something regrettable if I did not have a regular meditation practice. There is simply no technique in any parenting or self-help book that could have helped me be present as my daughter screamed, kicked and threw toys. Then screamed, kicked and bit me. (Did I mention that this went on for 90 minutes?) I watched the anger and frustration rise and subside, rise and subside likes waves -- not just in her but within me. As a formerly "very reactive person" (who was prone to yelling at and occasionally hitting boyfriends who probably didn't deserve it), I feel tremendous gratitude that today, anyway, I was able to share "my better self" with my daughter.

Come meditate on Monday nights if you can. If not, and what I say speaks to you, check in here now and again for a little inspiration.