By Amy Taylor-Kabbaz
How do I start meditating? Should I be chanting? Do I have to do it for hours to get any benefit? The short answer to all of this is no. Especially when you are a busy mama. Meditation is simply the act of focusing on one thought, to the exclusion of all others – and you can truly do that anywhere.
According to research, parents who regularly practise mindfulness report increased resilience, reduced stress and improved general wellbeing. However, ‘lack of time’ is one of the most common reasons we skip the practise.
Rituals for everyday parenting scenarios
1 // THE GROCERY QUEUE
Do not pick up your phone! Instead use this time to slow down and connect with your breath. As you inhale, imagine you are breathing in a light from your toes all the way up to the top of your head, then as you breathe out, back down again. Feel it move through each area of your body, running up and down. I promise you’ll feel like you’ve had a serious little nap and are ready for the world by the time you’re done.
2 // FEEDING TIME
A beautiful meditation for breastfeeding is to imagine all the other mamas around the world doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. At night, I used to visualise other mamas in the next street, comforting babies just like I was. Imagine flying above your suburb, city and country, imagine even more mamas, united. It’s so comforting to know you’re not the only one doing those midnight shifts – we’re all in this together.
3 // PUSHING A STROLLER
Walking is one of the best opportunities to slow down and use a simple but powerful walking meditation. As you walk, you count and co-ordinate your breathing. It’s best to change the numbers for the inhale and exhale: three breaths in, four breaths out. One step, one count, one breath. If you’re feeling anxious, like you need to get out of the house, this is the best technique to reduce stress and find peace.
4 // SCHOOL PICK-UP
On the way to the school gates, use each footstep as a way to ground yourself back into being a mama again. I often do emails right up until I leave home and used to get stuck in ‘work mode’. Now, I use the walk to school as a way to transition from work to mama time. With each footstep, focus on the pounding feel and sound. You can also add the mantra, “I have done enough for now” – because most of us never feel like we’ve done enough!
5 // STUCK IN TRAFFIC
If your kids are in the car, use this time to connect with them in a fun way. The stress of being stuck in traffic often comes from the focus we place on where we’re meant to be, or the time we’re meant to be there. What we focus on expands, so if you focus on the stress, it will only get worse. Shift your awareness to the opportunity of connecting with your kids – play ‘eye spy’ or sing with them – and use the mantra, ‘It’s only time. Happiness is now.’
6 // DINNER PREP
One of the most powerful mindfulness techniques is the mantra, “Only this, in this moment.” As parents, we are ninjas at multi- tasking. But, internal busy-ness causes us the most stress – and tips into yelling. Instead of thinking about your to-do list, focus only on the food you’re cutting, the sauce you’re mixing, the smells and the sounds. You can also use this at story-time, bath-time or in the park.