I know what you might be thinking -- why do moms need to know about meditation? Isn't that for monks, CEOs and celebrities? For yoga teachers and new-agey types?
Was that a typo, Hunter?
No. I really meant moms -- mothers, mamas, mums.
Let's face it. Way too many of us are overwhelmed. Our schedules are busy so we feel stressed for time. We feel the community or cultural pressure to keeping up with everything. We feel the pressure of parenting perfectly. We feel the stress of working all the time. Then there's the distraction and pressure of the media... oy,vey! Then, we feel guilty for our tempers and ashamed of our anxiety.
Yikes. So who has time to think about meditation?
That's the thing. All of those reasons we're overwhelmed are all the reasons that we moms may need it more than anyone else. We mamas need to know about some of amazing effects of meditation. Things that can help us with all of our stress and overwhelm. Without negative side effects (really).
Meditation IS for mamas. Because we need these awesome benefits just as much or more than monks, CEOS and celebrities.
We need it more because we are raising the next generation of human beings. We are living examples of how to live. The way we handle our lives has far-reaching ripple effects.
What are these amazing effects? Scientific research into meditation continues to prove what monks have known for eons. Just check out these benefits (with sources and even more benefits here):
1. Lowers Stress. Anybody who has lived with a 3-year old knows that parenting is stressful. And we know that stress kills our health and well-being. It leaves us much more likely to snap at our kids. Meditation quite literally decreases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in the brain. And yes, it leaves you feeling way clearer than a glass of wine.
2. Busts Anxiety. So many moms are living with a constant level of anxiety. We're worrying about our kids, schedules, relationships, you name it. Does his inability to share mean he's going to be a bad person? When will we get X done? Then we are parenting out of fear, rather than love or trust. We don't have to live like this. Brain scans have shown that meditation decreases activity in the brain regions associated with worry. I don't need a brain scan to know this from my own experience. With a regular meditation practice, my anxiety has plummeted. Every day is EASE-ier
3. Better Health.University of Wisconsin School of Medicine researchers found that meditation lessons the effects of colds. Mindfulness boosts the immune system. I've noticed this one in my own life too. When you have a child coming home from preschool, you really need this benefit.
4. Better Emotional Processing. A study in the journal Frontiers of Human Neuroscience found that meditation helps the brain to have better control over the processing of pain and emotions. These benefits occur even when we are NOT actively practicing meditation! When we are better able to take care of our feelings, then we can be more grounded when our kids loose it. We are an example to them of how to take care of difficult emotions. This is certainly true for me. Before I had a regular practice, I was really pushed around by the storms of my emotions. Now, I'm truly not. I can't stress enough the difference this makes in daily life.
5. See Your Blind Spots. What does this mean? A study in the Journal of Psychological Science shows meditation helps us objectively see ourselves. This means that we don't amplify or diminishour flaws. We are more objective and grounded. Have you ever said something you regret to your child, then spiraled into a pit of shame and guilt? Meditation can cut out this spiral. We acknowledge our challenges and grow from them. Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent, would tell you that this insight and understanding is the essential ingredient for conscious parenting.
I invite you to picture it -- what if you had all of these five things in your life? What would your days be like with lower stress, less anxiety, better health, better emotional processing and clarity about your blind spots?
How would your parenting change?
I should mention here one really important thing: Mamas, it's doable. You don't need to run away to a monastery or alter your life radically to meditate. You can have a practice that is short and effective. And you absolutely can fit it into your life.
I'm leading a 14-day mindfulness retreat in May that is geared for mamas. With short practices that you can fit into your life. Click here to learn more. Really, you can do this. If I can, you can.
Now it's your turn.
How would your life and parenting change if you had these 5 benefits? Start the conversation in the comments below!