I know what you’re thinking. “Meditate with kids? Like while they’re in the same room? Yeah, that’s not going to happen in our house.”
I get it, trust me. Stay with me for a minute and let me explain.
I didn’t believe it either. Especially last year, when my husband was unexpectedly out of work. He mentioned starting a daily meditation practice to help him find clarity. At first I was a bit jealous. After all, we had both dabbled in meditation over the years, but I had relegated starting a daily practice as something I might do “down the road”. He had a romantic vision of introducing our son to the concept while he was still young, the three of us meditating around the fireplace peacefully contemplating loving kindness.
He said he would start getting up 30 minutes earlier every morning. Yeah right, I thought. I could barely pull myself out of bed at all, hardly entertaining adding a new routine to my sleep-deprived hectic life. To my surprise, he actually did it. Every morning, he’d shut himself away before breakfast and emerge looking calmer, lighter, and wiser than I’ve ever seen him look.
I was intrigued. And there was more. He was using a technique called Passage Meditation and part of the practice included reading spiritual texts every day to deepen your understanding. We began discussing the shifts he was experiencing and I couldn’t help but yearn for the experience myself. I knew it was time for me to jump in.
We talked about how to do it with our 2 year old son. The idea of doing it in front of him seemed absurd. How on earth are you supposed to focus in a calm serene state when you have a noisy, raucous 2 year old crawling all over you and wanting to play. Ah, the irony. Focusing through distraction IS the point of meditation. And doing it in his presence would actually be the perfect training ground. Nothing is more distracting that a whiny toddler who’s just rolled out of bed and wants to cuddle, play, and eat.
The first few days were a bit rough, as with any new routine. But after that, our son started getting the idea. Now he knows it’s coming. He even says “ma-mmy me-di-tate” as we’re setting up. He loves helping us get our cushions out and putting them in front of the fire. We know now to put all his noisy electronic toys out of reach and give him quiet toys to play with (books, puzzles, etc.) Sometimes he even sits with us for a few minutes before he’s off wiggling all over the room. We set a timer for 30 minutes and politely ignore him while we sit, eyes closed, doing our practice. It’s not always pristine, but we get it done. The best is the sheer joy on his face when the timer goes off and he throws his hands up in the air. “All done!” he cries. 🙂
It’s been about three months now and I can’t even express to you how much this practice has changed and benefitted my life. Google can tell you the practical benefits of meditation, but I will tell you from my personal experience that it has become a cornerstone of peace in my life and our family relationship. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m peaceful all the time. (I wish!) It’s more like checking in with my internal therapist every morning. It sets the tone for my days and I have come to rely on the perspective it brings me when the going gets tough.
The best part is that it’s taught me that I do have room for it in my life despite thinking the opposite. And if I can manage to meditate for 30 minutes every morning, (possibly the most impractical thing ever), it means that I likely have room for anything I think I can’t fit in. It actually GIVES you more capacity in life.
So if meditation is something that has intrigued you, don’t let having kids stop you. It IS possible to meditate with kids. Include them in the process, set them up with some quiet toys, and coach them through it until they are familiar with the routine. It might not be the most serene meditation ever, but it will be better than you imagined, and will still give you all the benefits. Be consistent and before you know it, your kids might even follow along with you when they’re able.
Here are a few tips to get you going:
1. There are lots of different styles of meditation. Do a bit of research into a practice that appeals to you. You’ll be more invested if it’s something that resonates with you.
2. Give yourself 30 minutes every day to devote to your practice.
3. Talk about it with your partner (if applicable) and see if it’s something you might be able to start together. There is power and momentum in numbers. You will help each other be consistent.
3. Pick a time of day you can do it every single day. First thing in the morning is best, but throughout the day, or before bed works too!
4. Find some spiritual literature you can read a few minutes a day to support your practice.
5. If you’re doing Passage Meditation, consider getting yourself a little journal to collect passages you like. It will become your own personal customized spiritual text book.
7. Set a timer when you meditate!
8. Encourage your children to play quietly while you’re practicing. Talk with them about what you’re doing and why. Eventually they might even start to sit with you for a few minutes.
9. Reap the benefits! 🙂