Am I a monk or a mom?
The entire point of this website/blog, is to help other mothers find joy in parenting. The search for joy is not outside of yourself. It does not lie in a relationship or an object. Maybe you can experience joy with those things but it won't bring you the lasting happiness, peace and freedom that you can find within.
The last thing a mama with young babes wants to do is to get up earlier than her kids. A morning practice to raise your emotional set-point is imperative to live a life of peace. The best way to do that is through a meditation practice. The most important thing to note here is raising your emotional set point does not just make you happier so you can get through a shitty day easier. It literally changes what happens in your experience. Remember, we live in an attraction based universe. You attract by how you feel. If you have an emotional set-point of happiness and you can maintain it, only experiences that match how you feel can come to you.
I had gotten to a point in my depression that I was scared. I was afraid I would never be able to discern a happy feeling again. I remember sitting in my “baby” room, on the floor, thinking, “Am I ever going to feel better?” Willing myself to feel anything. Getting up, moving my body, watching Tony Robbins on YouTube, yelling like an idiot when he said yell to shift my energy. I was scared. I was at the bottom, and I didn’t know how to get out. I was actively seeing a doctor for depression, taking medication, but I needed to do something different. It was that day, whatever that day was, that I started to take my own life back.
I started slowly with meditation. After all, I still wasn’t sure of the point, but once I start something I am usually “all in.” I did research on the internet and just picked guided meditations on YouTube that I liked. I didn’t know what I was after. Often times throughout the entire meditation, the little person in my brain would talk to me the entire time. I would do everything I could to shut it up. They suggested sending thoughts out on clouds, which I did…then I thought about watching the clouds drift away with my thoughts. I will tell you it is not easy to quiet your mind that has a lot of momentum of thought in the wrong direction. It takes practice. I will promise you though, after a few days’ time, I started to notice a difference. I could quiet my mind for a couple of minutes here and there during meditations, and when the momentum of the negative thoughts stopped, I could feel relief.
I promised myself I would meditate every day for the first thirty days because I had read about the enormous benefit to help with depression. I had no idea the enormous benefit it was going to have on my entire life. I have learned how to have self-love and appreciation, and I have found happiness and peace for the most part, and when I'm out of alignment I can get myself back in.
Where to Start?
The great part about meditation is that you’re not going to do it wrong. You don’t have to watch a “how to meditate” video in order to do it correctly. The entire goal of meditation is to quiet your mind. In the beginning or on particularly hectic days, maybe you can only clear your mind for two minutes in a twenty-minute meditation. That’s enough. It is the runaway negative thoughts that create all of your problems, and those are the thoughts we are stopping.
You can choose to lay down or sit up. Find a quiet place where you can have uninterrupted time. The morning is best, because it will set your day on the right path, but choose any time of day that works best for you. Take slow deep breaths and focus on your breathing. Every time a thought pops in your head, which may be nonstop at the beginning of a meditation, envision the thought on a cloud in your mind and let it float away. What helps me the most when I have a lot of thoughts is picturing a tiny woman in my head producing the thoughts. I just lay her down and envision her sleeping.
Bring your awareness back to your breathing. You may feel tingling in your body, this is just energy movement and is normal. Continue this process for the desired amount of time. There are many, many guided meditations on YouTube which can help with focus because they give you something to “think” about. You should have a feeling of detachment after you get the hang of meditating. You should come out of meditation feeling more mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable.
Consider every topic you’ve ever thought about as having a little up or down switch in your brain. When the switch is up, it means the wanted benefits are showing up in your life. Let’s assume the switch is water. Assume you have as much water as you want in your life because your switch for water, is turned up. It could be turned up for multiple reasons. One, because you believe water is plentiful. Two, because you think water is easy to get. If your water switch was turned off in your brain, water would not be showing up in your life. It could be for several reasons. It could be because you thought water was scarce or because water was expensive. Meditation helps you reset your switches. As you start to feel better and better you will start to see that your switches are just pre-programmed by your subconscious and reality is a collection of old thoughts that can be changed. Anything in your reality is a manifested old thought. It manifested because it had momentum. If you don’t like something in your reality, you have to change your thoughts and feelings about it. Meditation will stop the momentum of all thought and allow you to think from a more neutral position.
Remember, beliefs are just choices you have made. If your beliefs aren't serving you, make a new choice! The reason beliefs feel so true is because your thought creates your experience and a thought with a lot of momentum continues to manifest. YOU have the choice to decide what to believe! Do you believe parenting is easy or hard? Either way you're right. What you believe you experience! Don't ask others to buy into changing their beliefs, they can't do it until they are ready. They won't understand this, until they are ready. Stop looking to others for validation, do what feels right for you.
Benefits of Meditation Mental health is an epidemic in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, fifty percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Mental illnesses such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the United States for those aged eighteen to forty-four, and adults living with serious mental illness die on an average of twenty-five years earlier than others. There are scientifically proven benefits to meditation:
Reduces Stress -- A study in the National Institute of Health included 3,500 adults, whose inflammation response to the stress hormone of cortisol decreased after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation. Many studies have been done on whether mediation helps stress, and it appears it not only helps stress, but also stress related conditions such as fibromyalgia, PTSD, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Reduces Anxiety -- A study published in PsycNET found that mindfulness meditation helped health care workers with on-the-job stress, which was leading to increased depression and low job satisfaction.
Promotes Emotional Health -- The National Institute of Health published a study which showed decreased depression in 4600 adults in two studies.Enhances Self-Awareness -- meditation helps you develop a stronger sense of self and how you relate to others. Forty men and women in their senior years took part in a meditation trial as part of a study, and their loneliness decreased in comparison to those on the waiting list for the study.
Helps increase attention span and decrease age related memory loss -- The National Institute of Health has several studies published on the benefits of memory and how it relates to meditation.
May help generate kindness -- In the practice of metta-meditation or loving kindness meditation, one study show that positive feelings developed in the meditation can improve social anxiety, reduce marriage conflict, and help with anger management.
May help fight addiction -- The National Institute of Health has published studies based on food, alcohol, and drug addiction and found that meditation has helped with will power, craving control, and reduced stress.
Improves sleep -- meditation helps slow the momentum of thoughts to help with insomnia.
Helps control pain -- several studies have been done to show the effectiveness of meditation to help control pain. Brain scans have been done on meditators and non-meditators when exposed to a pain stimulus, and those who meditate showed increased activity in the area of the brain that controls pain. In a larger study of 3500 participants, it showed that meditators had decreased complaints of chronic or intermittent pain.
Can decrease blood pressure -- an article published in the National Institute of Health showed 996 participants meditated on a silent mantra, and their blood pressure dropped an average of five points.
With all of these proven benefits, we do a poor job teaching our children how to take care of their emotional bodies. There are also some great choices of mindful meditation for children. YouTube has guided meditations that are stories, which allow them to follow along and still gain the meditation benefits. Below is a list of different types of meditation, some of which will help both you and your children. Meditation, when done regularly, just becomes a regular part of the day, like brushing your teeth. We all live in a fast-paced world, but clearly, with fifty percent of our society having a mental health illness, we are not coping well. Children need to be able to un-trigger their fight or flight response once it is turned on. Our human bodies are not capable of withstanding years of being bombarded with stress hormones from stress we are not managing well. Any of these types of meditations will bring the practitioner out of a negative pattern of thinking and back to the present moment.
Types of Meditation
There are several types of meditation and within each type, there are different categories. Try not to get intimidated; there is no wrong way to do it, and the entire point is to detach and clear your mind. The more often you do it, the more comfortable you will get. Here are some of the more popular types of meditation.
This meditation focuses on sending love towards everything, including enemies and sources of stress. The practitioner opens themselves up to receive love and kindness, while sending out messages of love and kindness. They repeat this process until they feel love and kindness. Helps those who struggle with anger, conflict, rage, and interpersonal relationships. Reduces depression, stress, and stress related conditions.
Body Scan or Progressive Relaxation
The practitioner scans their body for tension during this meditation and once found, focuses until release. They start at one end of the body and move to the other end. Sometimes a visualization technique is used to release tension, and sometimes tensing of all muscles is performed and then released. Helps promote calmness, relaxation, and has also been known to help with chronic pain. Can help with insomnia.
The practitioner can do this almost anywhere. Mindfulness reminds practitioners to remain present and aware in the moment. This can be done in a line at a grocery store. Practitioner stays present and focused without thinking future or past thoughts and does not have judgement about the situation. Here, the practitioner is the observer. Helps reduce negative emotions and negative reactions. Improves overall well-being
Practitioner focuses only on patterned breath. Practitioner ignores all other thoughts that enter the mind. This is a form of mindfulness meditation and has similar health benefits.
Physical form of meditation. Practitioner learns poses and breathwork during mediation while performing mantras. Energy centers are activated in chakras located by spine and above head. Helps reduce pain. Can improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.
Form of meditation, usually part of a Buddhist practice. Practitioners study under a teacher because of the specific steps and postures involved. Focus on breathing, becoming aware of one thought without judgement. Similar to mindfulness, but requires more discipline. Often includes a spiritual path.
Spiritual form where practitioner sits in seated posture. Goal of this meditation is to rise out of physical body. Focus on mantras. Complex mantras are used. Usually a teacher guides the practitioner.
Children need to see and be able to model healthy and quick ways to handle stress. Toddlers love practicing mindfulness and meditation, and it is never to early to start, even if it’s just two minutes a day!