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February 16, 2022 4 min read
Meditation for Mothers: How to get what you need from your practice
Once we become parents, meditation is going to look and feel differently than it did before. If you had an established meditation practice before you became a mom, the first and most important thing is to be compassionate with yourself. Your practice will look and feel differently than it did before.
My partner helps me meditate!
In my experience with new motherhood, I am grateful to have a partner who is also a meditator, and he supports me in maintaining my practice. One of the things that we've done as a household, that I would love to suggest to other moms, is we developed a schedule for our practice. With an infant, you might think that sounds crazy! But we have certain hours of the day allocated for our individual practice, revolving around nap times, as well as for our office hours.
My partner will say to me, “Now's your time, go meditate,” because that's what's on the schedule. I don't meditate for as long as I used to. I'm not sitting for 20 or 30 minutes a day. Instead, I might have 10 or 15 minutes. And of course, there are nights where I get just one mindful minute before bed. But I make sure that even if what I get is just one minute, that I'm doing it every single day.
Consistency is crucial!
Consistency is a game changer for mothers practicing meditation. It helps us develop that through line, where what we're practicing becomes what we're living in our lives, off our cushion and in our day. It’s important for us as new moms to be gentle with ourselves. Maybe we used to sit down and meditate, but if we're particularly exhausted on a certain day, we can lay down and meditate. Give yourself permission to adapt your practice because compassion is always at the heart of practice.
Meditation is SELF CARE.
This is a key part of the mindset for your practice: we're never practicing beating ourselves up. We're never practicing being hard on ourselves, or to feed the inner critics, or inner judge. Meditation is not one more thing that you must do today.
Meditation is a fundamental act of self-care. When you bring mindfulness forward to yourself, you're also bringing forward inner friendliness. If we don't have heartfulness at the center of the practice, we're fundamentally missing something. Especially for new moms, having kindness be the leading catalyst for practice is key.
Meditation for the Mindful Parenting Style: What does it mean?
Meditation as a parent really ties into the idea that there are two kinds of practice. One is what we would call formal meditation practice, and one is informal meditation practice. Formal meditation practice is the time that you carve out each day to sit down and meditate for a specific period of time, be it 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. But the rest of life is an informal meditation practice.
You bring informal practice with you out into the rest of your day. Now, it doesn't mean that we are capable of being 100% mindful, 100% of the day, but we can bring a quality of focused attention to the moment that we're in. As moms, our children deserve our full presence. I saw this firsthand in early motherhood from the time that my daughter was teeny tiny. If I got distracted, and was on my phone, she would get irritable. She already knew that she didn't have my full attention! Kids are heightened, energetic beings. They’re going to notice when we're not fully present, so we must bring mindfulness with us and pay full attention to our kids.
Think of it this way – we're raising the next generation of leaders, so we want to show them what it means to be engaged in each moment with our values. We want to show them what it means to really listen because listening, of course, is an act of love. We can bring mindfulness to the simplest things: like nursing for example! If you're a new mom and you're nursing your baby or giving your baby a bottle, give yourself permission to just do that one thing. Pull your attention to your breath when you feel challenged. Live in that one moment and focus on what is in front of you.
You may notice, in those moments when you feel desperate to put your baby down to sleep, that your body gets tense. Your baby can feel that tension and they're going to resist it. Use your mindfulness to soften your body, come back to your breath, and watch your baby soften and fall asleep. It is so powerful and beautiful to experience. That is mindful living, especially in new motherhood.
More From Lauren Eckstrom
Click here to learn more about her personal journey with yoga and meditation.
Click here to discover what kinds of meditation might be best for you and beginner tips.
Click here to learn how to start a journey towards mindfulness during pregnancy and and read meditation advice for expecting mothers.
Click here if you want to find out how meditation changes you, your body, and even your emotional regulation. The impact of mindfulness extends far beyond a deep breath!
Click here to read Lauren's advice on different types of meditation and the sameness of meditation and mindfulness in practice.
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