3 Essential Tips On Meditation For Mamas by Caitlin Cady Nowland
I meditate for a lot of reasons. To keep myself healthy and holistically well. To be less stressed and more calm. To invite in inspiration, insight and clarity. But since becoming a mother, my dedication to meditation has deepened because I now have two (soon to be three!) very precious reasons to meditate - my children.
The only thing my kids want from me, the only thing they really need, is my attention. As Simone Weil writes, “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” So for me, showing up as a chronically distracted, multi-tasking mother means I’m denying my kids their most basic need and the greatest gift I can offer them as a mother. It also means that I’m completely missing out on these precious, fleeting moments, too. And so I meditate.
Meditation keeps me on track, it helps me stay present and to really show up in the moments of my life that matter. I still make mistakes and have slip-ups in the presence department, but the more I meditate, the more I succeed in the art of staying.
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
So how to raise your vibration…and your kids at the same time? The key to establishing a meditation practice that sticks comes down to one simple thing. Attitude. What we think about our meditation practice is more important than the practical when, where, and how-to of meditation. The lens through which we view our efforts matters immensely so I’ve outlined three simple attitude adjustments that have helped me establish a daily meditation practice that has immeasurably improved the quality of my life - and my ability to mother well.
1. LET IT BE IMPERFECT
Making meditation a non-negotiable part of your day means accepting that every day will be different, especially when you’re a mama. Some days it will be profound and deep, enlightening even. Other days it will be a momentary snapshot of stillness in the midst of motion. Sometimes it will be easy and graceful. Other times it will be frustrating to the point of feeling like an utter failure.
Memorise this mantra (via Voltaire): “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Your meditation practice may not be perfect but it's good enough. It’s better to take meditation any way you can get it than to wait for the perfect conditions. Waiting for the perfect time, a clean house, an empty inbox, quiet surroundings, a completed to-do list, an impervious bubble of privacy...means that you'll be left waiting forever. Because perfect never happens. The imperfect, interrupted 10 minute meditation you do now with a barking dog or an overflowing inbox, or a sink full of dishes waiting for you, or a kid driving his Lego train up your leg, is better than the 1 hour of immaculate perfection that happens. When you look back on that imperfect meditation, one thing I know for sure- you'll never regret it. A meditation with a kid in your lap may not get you levitating but it will give you the tools to be more present, productive and focused in the rest of your day. So mamas, repeat after me: Done is better than perfect.
2. MEASURE YOUR MEDITATION BY THE EFFECT ON YOUR LIFE
So if we’re showing up and meditating even when the conditions aren’t perfect, how do we know if our practice is still “working?” My teacher Yogarupa Rod Stryker said it best: “the measure of your meditation is the quality of your life.”
Let me explain. The effectiveness of your practice is determined by what’s happening when you’re NOT meditating. In other words, don’t judge your meditation based on the experience you had during meditation (human jungle gym, anyone?), but rather on the effect your meditation practice has on your life. Yes, you got that right, your meditation practice itself can feel wonky or frustrating or pointless and still be worthwhile, valid and valuable.
So then the question becomes not "Am I good at meditation?” or “Was that a good meditation?” but rather, "Am I better for having meditated? Am I calmer? More patient? More intentional and focused? Do I feel more connected? More creative? More compassionate? Am I less stressed, more joyful?”
If you meditate daily, I bet you bottom dollar that your answer to most, if not all of these questions will be a definite yes. And ultimately, if your practice generates a positive on-flow effect in your life, it doesn’t actually matter what your meditation looks like. So rather than putting too much focus or judgement on how it felt or looked at the time, instead measure your meditation by what you feel/think/do when you're not meditating.
3. A LITTLE MEDITATION ON A LOT OF DAYS
So how much should we meditate? The truth is, a meditation practice that can make a real difference in your life doesn’t need to be 60 minutes a day, particularly if you’re elbows deep in motherhood. So rather than overcommitting, getting overwhelmed and then not making it happen Every. Damn. Day., do just the opposite. Relax your attitude and make your goal a little bit of meditation on a lot of days.
As entrepreneur Tim Ferriss put it “rig the game so you can win it.” For example, an ideal for some people might be a 30 minute morning meditation and a 15 minute evening meditation. But a realistic goal for a busy mama might be to start with a 10 minute morning meditation. By purposely setting the goal at a very achievable level, you set yourself up to actually get ‘er done. Which creates a sense of achievement and confidence that generates the momentum to keep practicing. Bonus: by not overcommitting, you’ll fight the overwhelm and burnout that often creep in when setting new habits. With that in mind, rig the meditation game to win it. Set a realistic goal and meditate a little bit, on a lot of days.
GO FORTH AND MEDITATE
To sum up these three attitude adjustments: Give yourself a permission slip to meditate imperfectly, rig the game so you can win it, and show up even if it feels challenging or unproductive while you’re on the meditation cushion. In my experience, the benefits of meditation show up if you do, no matter how imperfect and short your practice may be. My hope is that these attitude adjustments will give you the permission to establish a practice that sticks so you can raise your vibrations and your babies at the same time.
Mama, meditator, wellness whiz, and writer Caitlin Cady Nowland lives in beautiful Byron Bay, Australia with her husband and children. Caitlin is devoted to helping others upgrade their lives through meditation, holistic wellbeing and shared wisdom. Dive into guided meditations, recipes, rituals and more at www.caitlincady.com or connect with her on Instagram @caitlincady.