by Jen Murphy
In 7 Ways Meditation Helps me Feel like a Mindful Mama, I share the benefits of meditation – calm, less overwhelmed, being present, facing my fears – as I see them for me. My regular practice started post-mat leave by getting up 10 minutes early and using the Headspace App before jumping in my car for my 54km commute. It’s evolved from something I felt I should do to ease overwhelm in my life to something that I immensely value and need in my life. Meditation won’t happen unless you create the right conditions. Life holds too many distractions. Here’s some simple hacks to get you started.
Yep, you can meditate anywhere, that’s the beauty of it. Nonetheless, if you’re starting out, creating a special ‘sacred’ space that you will want to go to, will help initiate your practice. Right now, it may feel like your options are limited to the boot of your car or the dog’s kennel for a peaceful space within your home, but you can create it. If you Google “sacred space”, you’ll find so many ingenious ideas from people living in all kinds of environments from micro flats to massive gaffs. A corner of your bedroom, by a window, on your favourite cosy chair, behind a screen in your living room, in your back garden (woolly onesie optional 😉 ), on a yoga mat, using a portable altar or shelf, in the bath… See here for inspiration. I created my sacred space in our junk room. It ain’t fancy pants but it draws me in and that’s the nugget.
The key is to fill this space with things that bring you meaning and calm. These could include: candles, fairy lights, photos, paintings, heirlooms from loved ones, quotes and affirmations, books, essential oils, plants, natural artifacts (shells, crystals etc.), a vision board if you have one. Literally anything that means something to you. You’ll also need a cushion, yoga mat or a chair to meditate on. Gift yourself this space, you deserve it and you won’t regret it.
You’ve created physical space, so now create dedicated time to meditate. Ask yourself, “When is the best time for me to get 20 minutes to myself?” Early in the morning before everyone wakes up? Tough to do, but holy guacamole starting your day by having the world to yourself is incredible. It’s the Holy Grail. Or what about when your kids have gone to bed? Is there a quiet time in the house when everyone’s out doing activities? Could you stick headphones in your ears and ask your family to honour 20 minutes to yourself? Any options on your commute if home is a non-runner on a specific day? What about a walking meditation?
If you’re mammy to a wee baby and you feel it’s impossible to get the space to meditate. Or you’re so shattered that you’ll fall asleep meditating. Don’t stress. I’ve done the nodding-off head jerk while meditating so many times but it still has benefits – clearing my mind and generating the conditions for more restful sleep. You can find a lovely meditation for breastfeeding mothers here.
On days where your personal space is as expansive as your toddler’s nostril, an alternative is to meditate with your kids. I haven’t tried this with tiny o yet but I have encouraged him to consciously use his breath mid-wobbler, which has showed promise. So, it’s a technique I’d like to explore more. Here’s some easy suggestions for meditation with kids from Gabby Bernstein.
Phone Apps are a super way to start. I reignited my meditation practice, which had been dormant since my twenties using the free versions of Calm and Headspace. Meditating just ten minutes on weekday mornings before torpedoing out the door to work. I couldn’t have done this without a voice to guide and assure me to let my thoughts come and go without giving them the energy they seek. I also enjoy Buddhify and Audiojoy Spectrum. There’s tons of helpful meditation app reviews online like this one. Now I mostly use Spotify and YouTube as my sources without committing to a specific app.
Even better! Find a local meditation class in your area. There was a meditation class in my local town for about six weeks earlier this year. It was at 7PM on a Friday night. Initially, it seemed like the last thing you might want to do on a Friday night but man, was it the best start to the weekend. After class, I walked home along the coast like a different human to who I was the hour previous. Even if your class is just once a week the benefits will linger for a couple of days and you can supplement with a meditation app.
At first you might feel slightly self-conscious meditating in front of other folk. The more you get into it, you’ll discover that this can be a powerful experience. You’re in a room flowing with people’s energies – you can feel an innate human connection without words. This may sound happy clappy but I dare you to try 😉
Image: Creacon Lodge
If you can indulge, book yourself on a retreat. Last month on an intuitive “I need this” whim, I booked myself on to a wellness retreat for the night in Creacon Lodge on their reasonable Zen Oracle package. Besides work, this was the first time I’d been away on my own since I could remember when. Best. Decision. Ever. Not to sound dramatic but if you squandered enough time in this Wexford oasis, it could be a smidgen transformational. I already plan to return in early 2019 with my sister and mam.
Often when we try to introduce a new habit like meditation, we’re gung-ho for a short period. Then life gets in the way and our practice stops. We presume we’ve failed because we haven’t transformed into the Irish Dali Lama in a fortnight. The solution is to keep coming back no matter how sporadic. Having a sacred space will help draw you back. Another tactic I learned from The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal is to record how you feel after meditating and then play this back to remind yourself of its benefits. Hearing your own voice telling you how you’re going to feel if you mediate is pretty convincing, let me tell you! I don’t meditate everyday, I intend to… But! I’ve stopped berating myself and I keep coming back instead.
Any hacks you’d like to share, hit up that comments box! 🙂