How can “parent meditating” change your life? What is parent meditation?
Parent meditation is the simple act of completely focusing on your child in a specific moment; their essence; their features; their voice. It is the act of being fully present and aware of them in a completely evaluation and judgment-free zone.
When you fully focus and fully appreciate your child in that moment for exactly who they are, and embrace them, you won’t have any head space to be thinking about anything that you fear. Some of those fears may include whether they are caught up to their peers, whether they are too sensitive, whether they will be scared of dogs for the rest of their life. Or you might feel like you aren’t doing too hot at this parenting gig, or maybe you fear that you will die before they grow up, or a deeper fear that you aren’t enough, or even a fear that they aren’t enough. Fears aren’t good or bad. Thoughts aren’t good or bad. They are just part of your mind; the comings and goings of emotions and thoughts that you have no control over. What you do have control over is whether you are going to engage with those thoughts and feelings or just let them float on by. If you find yourself ruminating a lot, here is a great list of ways to let go and be present.
It is impossible for our brains to feel fear and love at the same time, so by filling our minds to the brim with active appreciation, we are, in that moment, feeling pure joy. And by parent meditating, you are connecting with your child in that present moment.
Do you ever hear yourself saying, “slow down, time!” You look at your newborn and then blink and they are running around. You blink again and they are speaking in full sentences. Blink again and they are grown up with kids of their own. Growing up isn’t a tragedy, but it is possible to “freeze” time for moments here and there. You guessed it! By parent meditating. There are other ways to “pause” time for a moment. Typically moments of awe will make time feel like it is standing still. Being fully present makes time feel slower too.
Do you have days where you are on auto-pilot. You let your thoughts just go and go; you drive to the store and realize you don’t remember driving there; you take your kids to the playground and realize that you might not have really heard anything they were saying; you reach the end of the day and have that thought of, “where did the day go?” It can be really difficult to stay present. With practice in meditating, you will strengthen that staying present muscle. The let-thoughts-run-free muscle is pretty powerful by now, so that will be your automatic go to until you practice something else.
With that being said, there is another important factor to acknowledge that is the other half of this same coin. Guilt and pressure. I constantly see articles about savoring every moment of your child’s childhood. Hold onto every shred of babyhood that you can. Don’t look at your phone, but instead stare into your little cherub’s big eyes and never look away. Never! And we all know that this is an impossible pressure to put on anyone. Yes, love and cherish your children. Yes, try and take at least one moment each day to really look at them and appreciate them just as they are in that moment. But don’t beat yourself up if you choose to go out with friends, work on writing an article while they play in the other room (cough!), or sit and read a book or your phone while they play at the playground. You are a person too which means that you matter too.
The basis of this message is to practice being present. Every day. Even if that presence isn’t focused on your kids. If you are standing in line at the coffee shop, instead of zoning out in lala land, look around you. Feel the weight of your feet as you take tiny steps forward awaiting your turn. Smell the beautiful aroma in the air. Be awake in that moment. Because you are alive right now. Not in the past or the future. Right now. And life will feel fuller and longer and happier if you take the time to notice it.
Parent meditating can change your life because it will change your relationship with your children. Sometimes they feel like the enemy; out to get you by pouring water on the couch for the 3rd time in one day, smacking you in the face because they think it’s fun, or waking up for the 300th time to nurse when you are running on fumes. By parent meditating, you are intentionally focusing on your love for them. Your heart warms to them. You will feel more patient and playful. And in turn, they will feel loved, more cooperative (sometimes), confident, and important. They will notice you noticing them and feel all warm and fuzzy inside which will boost their self-worth.
What have you got to lose? Try it. Right now!