Meditation has positive effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health, but you don't have to sign up for a class to reap the benefits.
We imagine meditation consists primarily of sitting on the floor in a quiet room while you let the breeze of your thoughts pass your closed eyes, but meditation can also be practiced while you work and live.
Work is great meditation. Chores and other physical work keeps your body busy, and the repetitive movement burns off cortisol. Your mind can hum along at lower brain wavelength. Caring for children with mindfulness can also be a meditation; children are much more present in their lives than adults are. Even more cerebral work, like accounting or writing, can be meditative if we approach it intentionally.
Living in a meditative state will impart the benefits of a meditation practice without having to carve out time to sit in silence, though this is also valuable when you can make time! Imagine what it's like to be enlightened, to feel no malice, fear, or anxiety. Everything flows. You can recreate this feeling in moments by observing the following principles, which turn your life into a moving meditation.
Related: Mommy and Me Meditation
1. Be Non-Judgemental
Do you really know what is good? Maybe the bad thing that happened leads to a much better thing. Maybe the good thing that happened causes a bad thing. What is ultimately good and bad? We're not talking about morality, here. We're talking about judging the things that happen in our lives. You're late for a meeting. It's raining on the day of the picnic. That seems bad, but we can't see all the repercussions.
In a meditative state, we don't judge ourselves or the occurrences. They just are. Observe the present moment impartially, without evaluating it and causing emotional waves. This is especially important in situations that are hard.
Believe that things will work out, without you working so hard. A woman at my first baby shower said, "Babies bounce." Your anxiety, she told me, isn't going to save your baby. You'll make mistakes, and you'll both bounce back. Even if you drop the ball, it has a way of finding its way back to you when you really need it. Trust yourself. Develop an appreciation for grace. Things tend to work out or work themselves out.
3. Be Patient
Especially with children, try to reduce the amount of rushing you do. So much of the time when I get upset with my children it's because they're not acting like adults. And I don't want them to be adults. A child's brain operates on much slower wavelength. Before age seven, most of their time is spent in a dream-like state. You couldn't get your shoes on 'right now!' if you were half asleep either.
One of the truest things about parenting is that children change. If there's something going on that you like, soak it up. If there's something going on that you don't like, suck it up. You can fight it, but it's going to go away soon anyway.
I realize that soon is relative. If you want to stop nursing, you might have to wait a couple years, but she'll stop. This may not fly. Eventually he'll be out of diapers without you doing much, but it doesn't mean you should sit and wait. Just go slow and easy and trust that it will work out.
Related: Try a Clothesline Meditation
4. See the World Anew
One of the wonderful things about children is that they help us to recreate the mystery and wonder of our own childhoods. We can discover things that we've been looking at for decades-- again. You can do this anytime, with anything. Notice the tiny leaf buds on the trees in spring. See the crack in your tile, how it looks like a river. Look into your beloved's eyes and really listen, pretend you are meeting for the first time.
I read somewhere that a lot of our trouble with our children comes from believing that we know them, when we can't truly know anyone. We know them better than others do, but the qualities and habits we prescribe to them eventually get in the way of really understanding, listening, and seeing who they are. Every few weeks, when your child wakes up, try pretending they are a foster child you know nothing about.
5. Stop Trying
Live your life like a musician playing a symphony. She does not try to get to the end. She does not lament that it's only the second movement. She is not anxious that others may finish before her. The part she is playing in this moment is exactly the part she needs to play right now.
Don't worry about achieving. Focus on progressing.
6. Let Go
Let go of the past, of what is sometimes called "shark music." If you are walking down a forest path at dusk, you are walking down a forest path at dusk. If you do that same walk with hidden speakers playing the theme song from Jaws, it's a very different walk. Turn off the shark music of what has happened in the past or what you've heard and be open to this moment.
Worrying isn't going to save anything. Your imagined control over your life is holding you back. Free yourself from judgements, expectations, hurry, and the cynicism we think of as mature. Try focusing on this moment only and see the life happening in and around you."We never did have tears over broken balloons because, knowing that they would rise when the string was released, the children always wanted to let go immediately. As parents, we had a little trouble adjusting to this. While we secretly lamented the 'waste' of our money, the children marveled at the freedom of each bright, rising thing. After a while they learned to hold on to the their balloons a little more tightly and a little longer. So the kids are learning to hold on, while we are learning to let go."
-from Whole Child/Whole Parent by Polly Berrien Berends
Image credits: Flickr/CC; Flickr/CC