Let's just get right down to it. Moms are busy, often stressed and aren't typically the best at prioritizing "me" time. I'm right there with you. On top of the usual stressors of being a parent and working full-time, I'm also someone who tends to have a higher than average anxiety level (even pre-baby).
About 6 months ago, I saw a sign in my local town advertising meditation classes. I've always had this deep down desire to try something like meditation, but wasn't sure if I'd like it. I've taken some yoga classes in the past because I thought they would be similar but they never actually relieved my anxiety (and neither did anything else I tried -- medication/no sugar/more exercise). So I decided to give class a whirl.
I was hooked right away. Even after attending just my first class, I felt a sense of inner peace that I had never felt before.
Meditation is a wonderful tool to help anyone, especially moms, calm our minds, refocus and remember what is truly important in life -- living in a compassionate, loving way and doing no harm to others. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to react to your child's tantrums from a place of peace instead of frustration? Or how about feeling love towards your partner/husband instead of anger when they disagree with you about something related to your child? It is possible and I can say that from personal experience.
People tend to have a lot of questions about meditation, understandably so. I asked my meditation teacher to give everyone the scoop and hope you enjoy her answers below. Thank you to Eve at the Odiyana Center for providing this Q&A.
Q. What is meditation? Can anyone do it?
Eve: Meditation is a mind that concentrates on a virtuous object (one which causes us to develop a peaceful mind when we concentrate on it), and is the main cause of mental peace. If our mind is peaceful, then we are calm, clear and happy and we are free from worries and mental discomfort. Meditation helps us to improve our good qualities and our relationships and therefore allows us to deal more skillfully with daily life.
Anyone can learn to meditate. No matter how distracted the mind appears, all of us can improve by training in meditation.
Q. These days, it seems like everyone is really busy, especially our audience of working moms. Why is it important to fit in some time for meditation?
Eve: Everyone does have busy lives. In order to be able to care for others (as moms do!) we need to take some time for our minds. Just like we pause to take care of our bodies (eating, sleeping, exercising), we need to "exercise" and "develop" our mind. Basically, if we don't have inner peace, there is no real happiness. Problems don't exist outside the mind. Therefore, it is important for everyone to take time to develop peaceful, positive states of mind. Busyness, worry and stress can make us feel exhausted and unhappy. Just by doing breathing meditation for 10 or 15 minutes a day, we will be able to reduce that stress, improve relationships and deal with difficult situations more easily.
Q. I often hear from moms that they experience a lot of anxiety and guilt in their lives, especially related to their parenting choices. How can meditation help calm their minds?
Eve: Meditation is a method for becoming familiar with positive states of mind. The more we learn about our mind through meditation, the more easily we begin to discriminate which thoughts are helpful and which ones are not. We can then skillfully develop and increase positive states of mind and reduce and finally abandon negative states of mind.
Only when our mind is calm and clear, free from distractions, can we gain this insight. When we're worried, anxious or distracted, we don't view situations clearly. Meditation allows us to develop this clarity of mind and thus increase our wisdom and compassion, which help us in all aspects of our life, both now and in the future.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to add that readers should know?
Eve: Learning how to be happy is a skill. Like any skill, the more familiar we become with it and the more we practice, the easier it becomes. By training the mind through meditation, we can really begin to enjoy our mind and understand its limitless potential. Just knowing that we can reduce and finally eliminate all negativity from the mind is empowering. We can then actually enjoy creating causes to experience happiness in the future. In this way, we can benefit ourselves and others. Like my teacher, Geshe Kelsang, says: "Don't worry, just try."
Wishing all my fellow mommas lasting peace and happiness.