From Parents Magazine
Even the briefest of meditative moments can do you a world of good. Taking a few minutes to relax, focus on your breath and calm your thoughts can help you handle whatever the day (or night) throws at you. When you meditate, you reduce the release of harmful stress chemicals like cortisol, and increase the release of endorphins and other feel-good hormones. The result: your pulse slows, blood pressure decreases and you’re able to clear your mind.
If you’ve never tried meditating before, it could sound intimidating and time-consuming. But you don’t actually have to sit still or be quiet to harness some of those benefits. Instead, think of meditation as another way of paying attention. Turn everyday activities into meditative moments to insert some calm into your busy day.
You’re taking your child for a walk.
Turn your stroll into a walking meditation by syncing your breathing with your stride. It’s helpful to use a phrase that has four syllables (“I am grounded,” “I am breathing,” “I am happy”) to merge your breathing and your stride. The repetition helps you find a relaxing rhythm.
You’re feeding your baby.
Consider your rocking chair or glider to be your meditation cushion, where you focus exclusively on your baby and your breath. Simply start counting your breaths. Then, concentrate on your belly and be conscious of how it rises and falls with each inhalation and exhalation. From there, just count—one as you inhale, two as you exhale, three as you inhale and so on. When you get to 10, say “I am present” as you breathe out, then start counting again from one.
Your toddler’s having a meltdown.
This might take a superhuman effort, but instead of reacting to your child’s fit by yelling and getting tense, try to consciously relax the tension seeping into your jaw, neck and shoulders. Take a deep breath; as you exhale, focus on getting rid of tension. Admittedly, it’s not always easy to pull off, but if you can concentrate on your breath for just 10 seconds, it will help you thoughtfully respond rather than automatically react. (The same tactic works when you’re dealing with a crying baby or kids feuding with one another in the back seat.)
You’re finally alone.
Whether it’s at naptime, in the evening after bedtime or during a few hours when someone else is in charge, you probably have a lengthy list of everything you plan to accomplish during this window. But this quiet time is also the perfect opportunity for a more traditional meditation session (even if it’s just five minutes). Find a comfortable place that allows you to sit upright in a supported posture. Close your eyes. As you inhale, say “And,” then exhale as you count “One,” then inhale and exhale “Two,” continuing up to four. At that point, start over. As thoughts and items from that to-do list cross your mind, acknowledge them, let them go and return to counting your breaths. If you want to use a mantra, try “I am restored.”
Your child is sleeping through the night—but you’re wide awake.
Any mom who’s ever lain awake in the middle of the night knows this vicious cycle all too well: you can’t sleep, your brain is on overdrive and then you start to watch the clock and panic about how tired you’re going to be if you don’t fall asleep this second. Meditation can help; stop looking at the clock and start focusing on your breathing, allowing it to deepen and slow down. Then, visualize that you’re tossing all of the things that are cluttering your brain into a trash can. As you imagine that you’re filling the trash can up, you’ll empty your mind so you can fall asleep.
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