Nine months ago a seed was planted. Ok people, not THAT kind of seed. I didn't do any baby making, but I did start a journey that has changed my life for the better, similar to how becoming a mom made me see the world a bit differently.
Back in September of 2012 I took my first meditation class at a local center in my town. I'd always been intrigued by meditation but was nervous to take the first step and attend class. Turns out there was not a single thing to be nervous about considering every person I have met that practices meditation is incredibly welcoming and nice.
The type of meditation that I practice isn't just breathing meditation, it's contemplative too. Over the past nine months I've thought a lot about how my state of mind at any given point impacts how I see the world. I've meditated on how dangerous anger can be, how the most important thing I can do is to show others kindness (even those who provoke and challenge me) and I have increased the depth of my compassion for others.
I've experienced a dramatic drop in my anxiety level and I feel like I've healed some relationships in my life that were difficult, not because the other person changed anything, but because I now fully understand that I have the ability to change situations solely based upon the way I think. Powerful stuff peeps!
Naturally, practicing meditation has impacted how I parent my 2-year-old daughter. Here are a just a few of the revelations I've had since beginning my practice.
I have a lot more patience than I thought.
Mom, if you're reading this, pick your jaw up off the floor. This has been a surprising revelation. I have not been known within my family as someone who has a lot of patience but I've found that meditation really helps me stay in the now (as cliché as that term is). Most of the time I'm able to resist getting agitated when my toddler doesn't do what I ask, throws a tantrum or doesn't want to eat dinner. Taking the time to breathe and remember that my goal is to be kind in all of my interactions, including with my little girl, helps me show more patience instead of just getting immediately upset. As a wonderful consequence, I don't yell anymore.
I'm not perfect, and that's ok.
And that brings me to this little revelation; it's ok to not be perfect. I sometimes refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist. Before meditation, if I felt like something wasn't done to my very high standards I had to fix it immediately (including craft projects with my kid) or I would have a high level of anxiety. What I now understand is that my thoughts create my world and as I am moving towards a more peaceful state of mind, I don't really care if my daughter rips a hole in the project we're working on -- I'll just tape it up and move on (as opposed to throwing it out and starting again!). I have a more relaxed attitude about some things but admit that it's hard to shake my perfectionist tendencies. Just part of the journey, I suppose.
I am not my body
Ah yes! You know those stretch marks on my stomach and the baby weight I haven't lost yet? Guess what? That doesn't define me! Because I'm not my body, I'm more than my body and you are too. How liberating is that? Thank you meditation!
Pre-baby I was more judgmental than I ever imagined.
Before I became a mom I use to judge other parents (I hate to admit that but it's true). I didn't realize just how judgy I was until I had my own kid who doesn't always act like a perfect little angel. Just the act of becoming a mom helped me reduce my judginess but meditation has opened my eyes to the importance of universal compassion. The truth is we don't really know what's in anyone else's mind other than our own and judging others makes it hard to feel kindness and love for them. And as I stated above, showing kindness to people is one of the most important things in life.
Just like meditation, parenting takes perseverance.
With meditation, it takes time to fully reap the benefits. You have to (gently) keep at it, doing your best to put the meditations into practice in daily life. Motherhood is just like that. We just have to keep plugging along, doing our best each day with faith that our efforts will pay off in the long run.
From my meditation cushion to you, keep calm and mother on.
For more posts in our What I Know About Motherhood series, click through the slideshow below.