Disclosure: This post includes a sponsored mention of Prevention Magazine's R3 Summit. My opinions are my own.
When I was invited to this year's R3 Summit by Prevention Magazine I wondered what my big takeaway would be for 2016. Last year I attended with Baby C strapped to my chest. He made a great companion for the day, but his need for a nap meant not staying the whole day. I thought that surely this year would be different. With C left safely at home with an Auntie I would sit in on every session, partake in each wellness workshop and even get in a workout or two. I was really excited for Mama's day out!
The universe had other plans and managed to hit my poor boy with a nasty cold at just the wrong time. Instead of spending that Saturday at the Summit I stayed home and cared for my sick little boy. Trading yoga and celebrity interviews for boogers and nebulizers stung a little - but I know that I made the right choice. Besides, I hadn't missed the entire Summit. I did sneak out the night before for the opening reception and Bob Roth's talk on meditation.
Bob Roth, also known simply as Meditation Bob, has been teaching people from all walks of life about meditation for decades. His particular specialty is called Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based meditation touted by both celebrities and Roth's non-profit, The David Lynch Foundation, for lowering dangerous cortisol levels, reducing stress, and helping to heal a laundry list of psychological issues from addiction to PTSD. The David Lynch Foundation provides TM training to inner-city students, veterans, and other communities who can benefit from their help.
Roth's talk left me inspired to make meditation a priority in my own life. While I do have a habit of meditating that habit is pretty undisciplined. I tend to meditate when the mood strikes me. Experts, like Bob Roth, recommend twice daily meditation, so moving forward I am going to make that my goal.
Now how does a busy working mama make time for meditation? For me, the key is choosing practices that work with my erratic lifestyle. That means that the techniques must be brief, targeted, and very simple. Here are a few ideas to get us all started.
Mindful Mama: This is the meditation that saw me threw countless sleepless nights during my son's first year. It is a great coping practice for those times when you are feeling totally tapped out and pushed to your limit. Start out by taking a few deep breaths and deciding to quiet the swirling thoughts and persistent desires (like your need for sleep!) going on in your mind. Shift your focus to observation mode. Take a moment to simply observe your body and the space that surrounds you. Feel the air on your skin, the weight of the child in your arms. Focus on the breath rising and falling from your chest and from theirs. Feel the hot baby breath on your neck or the soft rug under your toes. Listen to the quiet (or the buzzing chaos) of the world around you. Try to exist in that moment, aware only of the present. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
One Track Mind: This meditation works well for those sacred moments when you are actually alone. This may not happen often (or at all) for some mamas, but if you have a ten-minute window during the day of peace and quiet this is a simple way to make the most out of that precious solitude. Pick a single song to use as both the focus and the timer of your meditation. There aren't really any rules for which song to choose, but I like using instrumental music that feels calm and soothing.
1-2-3: I like to practice this visualization-style meditation right before going to sleep. It helps quiet my mind after a busy day - not always an easy task! Start by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. When you are ready to begin, inhale as you visualize the number one and repeat the word "one" over and over until you finish your breath and exhale. Repeat this with the number two and so on up until the number ten, then back down to number one again.
Mama Mantra: When I was getting ready to have my first baby the midwives in our practice advised creating a mantra to help get through labor. I didn't come up with my mantra until about four hours into active labor, but when it came to me it was just right. During the night I labored I repeated the mantra "Just one minute" through each contraction. Later, after my son was born and I found myself losing my cool during the long sleepless nights I brought the mantra back. Only this time I repeated "just one year". To use the mantra I would close my eyes, breath deeply, then repeat the phrase as I also visualized the words in my head. I would repeat this for several minutes or until my feelings of frustration, anger, or despair subsided.
Do you have your own daily meditation? I'd love to hear about more methods for including meditation in your daily routine.