Meditation is the practice of calming and centering the mind. Mindful meditation originated in India thousands of years ago as part of Hinduism.
Over the centuries, its amazing ability to transform our mind, body and soul have been taken on by Buddhism as well as many other cultures and religions.
Today, countless cultures around the world have embraced the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits that mindfulness can bring to our personal lives.
The Secret of Stress Free Parenting
Let’s face it, parenting can be hard and stressful!
It can also be quite amazing and rewarding to see the best aspects of ourselves standing in front of us in the form of our children.
To be the very best parents we can be, it’s crucial that we find productive ways to manage our stress. After all, our kids learn best by watching our behavior (this is called “modeling”) and if we don’t handle stress well, neither will they.
Adding a mindful meditation practice to your life, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, can transform your parenting style in several incredible ways:
- You will feel a greater sense of calm and peace
- You will be able to ebb and flow around daily challenges more easily
- You will naturally be more patient with your child and yourself
Science Backs Up The Benefits
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD conducted a recent study on the effects of a mindful meditation practice and it’s impact on stress and well-being. Their research looked at over 3500 people, and what they found was astonishing!
They found that “the negative effect (of Anxiety, depression, and stress/distress) is improved in mindfulness programs”.
They also found that “mindfulness-based stress reduction reduces (physical) pain severity to a small degree” and that “Mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety”.
Yet another study published by the National Institutes of Health found that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program “may have a beneficial effect on anxiety symptoms in generalized anxiety disorder, and may also improve stress reactivity and coping”.
Clearly many experts recognize the ability of a mindful meditation practice to reduce stress and anxiety; and since parents seem to have an endless stream of stress and anxiety, this can certainly help make some positive changes.
Meditation Changes Our Brains
A recent study by the University of California in Los Angeles examined the links between aging, brain deterioration and meditation.
What they found was nothing short of amazing!
In their study, they reported that “meditation is brain-protective and associated with a reduced age-related tissue decline”.
They went on to say that there is “scientifically solid evidence that meditation has brain (and mind) altering capacities (which can help with) healthy aging, but also pathological aging, such as is evident in mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease”.
In short, if we focus on adding just a few minutes of mindful meditation to our daily rituals we can literally transform our minds and positively impact how our brains age.
We can then apply this to all aspects of our lives, including how we parent.
The Effects on Kids May Surprise You
Children face enormous pressures today compared to when we were kids.
Social media and technology can affect the brain negatively to create anxiety and stress that simply didn’t exist in past decades. We also have epidemics of ADD & ADHD and out of control rates of adolescent depression.
The good news is finding ways to incorporate a mindful mediation practice into your child’s life can have a significant impact.
A recent study by Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that “using the techniques of Sahaja Yoga Meditation . . . showed improvements in children’s ADHD behavior, self-esteem and relationship quality.”
They went on to say that “Children described . . . better sleep patterns, less anxiety . . . and at school more able to concentrate, (and had) less conflict. Parents reported feeling happier, less stressed and more able to manage their child’s behavior”.
While kids may not have the patience for a daily or lengthy practice of seated meditation, just a few minutes several times a week can bring about a profound change in mood, attitude and stress-reduction!
The Magic Behind Mono-tasking
Mindfulness has come into fashion over the past decade.
Essentially it’s the practice of focusing our attention on what we are doing in the moment. With mindfulness, we focus on being 100% present to a person or action, instead of allowing our minds to be scattered across many thoughts and tasks.
Mindfulness removes the illusion that multi-tasking somehow makes us more productive. Instead it replaces that idea with mono-tasking: being laser focused on one thing at a time.
In doing this, we become more accepting of what we can’t change. We become more patient, caring and empathetic. It also naturally causes our relationships to improve as we will become more present and connected to those we interact with.
To dive deeper into exactly what mindfulness is take a look at the 10 Easy Ways To Practice Mindfulness .
Applying Mindfulness Makes Your Life 10x Better
In terms of how mindfulness can improve your life, let’s review the biggest positive impacts:
- It helps regulate our emotions
- It heightens our sensitivity to others and the world around us
- We will more easily replace expectations with appreciation
- It can strengthen our feelings of self-worth and self-esteem
In short, by making a choice to practice mindfulness and mindful meditation we are taking charge of our lives, our emotions and our minds. We are no longer simply reacting to the world around us, but taking responsibility for how we want to live our life.
3 Simple Ways to Start Meditating Today
So mindful meditation sounds great, right?
But, how do we incorporate that into our daily lives? More importantly, how can we practice mindfulness in a way that doesn’t eat up a lot of our precious time?
The answers can be surprisingly simple.
There are likely a million different ways to practice mindfulness and no one way is best.
In truth, what works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa. Therefore, find what works for you and don’t worry if you’re doing it the “right” way.
The primary goal of mindful meditation is to calm your mind and clear away all the distractions and thoughts.
While practicing mindful meditation you may want complete quiet. Others, though, may like the challenge of tuning out a certain amount of background noise. And yet some others may prefer to listen to gentle music in the background.
Listed below are 3 incredibly easy ways to add a mindful meditation practice to your life:
#1 Seated Meditation
The easiest way to add a mindful meditation practice to our lives is to simply set aside anywhere from 5-15 minutes in your daily routine. Almost all of us, no matter how busy our lives, can spare an extra 5 minutes. Wake up 5 minutes earlier to start your day, so that you ensure you have plenty of time to practice.
Find a place with limited distractions and sit cross legged. The important thing is to try and eliminate all the distracting thoughts and focus your mind on one thing.
Focus on your breath, breathing in slowly through the nose and out through the mouth. Also, focus on a maintaining a strong and upright posture with the crown of your head pointing to the sky.
Many meditators like to focus on the pineal gland, or what’s known as our third eye.
The pineal gland is located inside the brain, but the gateway to it, the third eye, is considered by many to be located on the forehead in between our eyebrows. The pineal gland is where melatonin in our body is produced; thus focusing on it can help improve sleep regulation.
No matter what helps you quiet your mind, stay focused on that one thing.
When you find your thoughts drifting towards what to make the kids for dinner or last’s night’s spat with your spouse, simple breathe out and come back to your focus.
Even the most seasoned meditators occasionally find their thoughts drifting. So, be kind to yourself and clear your mind as often as is necessary. Don’t worry that you aren’t doing it perfectly.
#2 Practice Tai Chi
Think of Tai Chi as a form of moving meditation.
While it is a traditional Chinese martial art, it is a solo practice that does not (typically) involve contact or partner work. It is also a very slow and gentle practice that allows the practitioner to focus on breath and healthy movement.
Of course you can find a local Tai Chi class, but there are also plenty of YouTube videos that allow you to practice at home.
Unless you’re an expert, start with what’s called the Yang style short form which is features 24 different movements rather than the traditional 108 long form.
To dive in deeper, take a look at the 10 Benefits of Tai Chi .
#3 Practice Yoga
Yoga, too, is a centuries old practice.
It also comes in many styles, some more rigorous than others. What they all tend to have in common, though, is a calming and focusing of the mind through breath and healthy movement.
Like Tai Chi, you can certainly find a yoga studio near your home or work, but you can also find a multitude of videos that will enable you to practice at home.
The more rigorous among you may want to look into Bikram or Hot Yoga classes, which can be a very full bodied workout. For a more gentle approach you may prefer Hatha or a restorative “yin” style yoga.
But like any mindful meditation practice you will naturally see benefits physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Dig deeper and learn What Yoga Can Teach Us About Productivity .
You’re Never Too Busy to Meditate
We all feel the pinch in our busy weeks of trying to find the time to add one more thing.
It’s clear from what we’ve learned that the benefits of adding a mindful meditation practice into our lives can be an amazingly transformational experience!
But how do we fit it into our busy and ever-increasing schedules?
Like anything else it has to be simple and it has to be something that doesn’t feel like we’re sacrificing.
We also need to be willing to fake it until we make it. In other words, like any new practice it may feel unnatural at first and it can take anywhere from 21-28 days (or longer) to form a new habit.
So be patient and stick with it.
Once you’re past the initial stages and the new habit is formed, mindful meditation will naturally and seamlessly become part of your new everyday routine. Here’s how to begin:
- Set a clear parenting goal or intention (to be more patient, to be more loving, to be more calm, etc.)
- Make your goals 1-3 things (remember we’re keeping this simple!)
- Write down your goals somewhere (the fridge is a great place)
- Start by dedicating just 5 minutes each morning to meditation (use whatever method you prefer; seated meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, etc)
- Push through on those mornings when you don’t want to do it (we all have those mornings)
- No matter which practice, focus on your breath and emptying the mind
- Close your eyes (to minimize distractions)
- Be kind to yourself (when you get distracted)
- With every breath try and release more tension in your body
As you start to get the new habit ingrained, you’ll start to see the tangible benefits of mindful meditation. Then you can begin to devote more time to it.
Just a few minutes a day really can make a big difference!
If you can meditate with your kids, then it becomes a family tradition and you all grow stronger together!
Become a Model Parent with Meditation
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety while bringing a greater sense of calm and patience to both you and your child. You will see amazing benefits from starting a mindful meditation practice.
In truth, adopting a mindful approach to life can not only improve your parenting style, but can bring about a positive change to all aspects of your life. So, don’t delay, begin practicing mindfulness meditation today and reap the incredible benefits for both you and your children.