I’ve been having a little argument with myself about meditation ever since becoming a mom. Before I was a mom, I think I just sat down and meditated. I can’t really remember. Now, though, sitting down to meditate for any extended period of time requires either a) a babysitter, b) me to be awake, or c) hmmm… maybe there isn’t a C. I keep trying to meditate in the evenings, but B keeps getting in my way.
For a few weeks, I was successfully devoting an hour 2-3 times a week to meditation. Maybe that will happen again someday, but for now, it’s just not. Lots of inexplicable things happen in motherhood, I’ve discovered.
As a working mom, and a working-at-home mom, and a person with a tendency toward mind-body syndromes, I really feel that meditation is essential to my well-being and my sanity. Also, it’s essential to my family’s well-being and sanity. You know that old saying, “when mama ain’t happy….” As much as I hate to admit it, it’s kind of true. If my energy is off, everything is off. Now, I’m not striving to be perfectly centered all the time. (Well, ok, my inner perfectionist is striving to be perfectly centered all the time, but I am aware of her. Mostly.) Most days, I just want at least fifteen *&%*& minutes to turn inward and meditate, because it is a nourishing drink from the well of life.
I am not a total newbie to this feeling of struggle. I recognize it as a sign that I’m pushing against something larger, something wiser, and something that knows what’s best for me. Usually, this means that whatever I think I need is not what I need, and I get some sort of giant smack to help me course-correct. Ironically, this is one reason I meditate. I am not as much of a fan of these giant smacks, and I find that if I stay tuned in to my inner wisdom, they are not as frequent or large. (And yes, I keep asking for no smacks at all, but apparently I have ordered up Life Coaching from the Universe for Stubborn People.)
Well, as you may have guessed, I received a Giant Smack recently. I woke up one morning (well, ok, yesterday) and found that I could not focus on work due to the need to bawl and curl up in a ball on the floor. It seemed quite impossible to actually deliver on everything in my work life. It seemed as though I was infinitely behind and would never, ever, ever, catch up. It seemed as though I simply had too much on my plate.
This, I discovered, was not a coded message. The problem was, I had too much on my plate.
Now, that is not unusual. I have done that my whole life, and I kind of enjoy the challenge. It makes things interesting and fun. However, in Mom Life, it is no longer fun. Or interesting. It’s pretty much torture. And, you might notice that trying to add an hour meditation into my already full day is simply another layer of pressure.
Side Note: In Mom Life, EVERYTHING is different. I may not have fully accepted that just yet. I appear to still be adjusting to the fact that I am a mom, and that being a mom is completely different every day, and that working and being a mom is totally different from just working, and that being a working mom is totally different every day. It’s kind of like a Jack-in-the-Box that pops up and smacks you with something totally random, day or night. New tooth! WHAM. No nap! WHAM. Sudden Screaming Fit! WHAM! Poop in the bath! WHAM! Enormous Head Bonk! WHAM! Revolted by all foods and throw them on the floor! WHAM! Sudden Barf! WHAM!
I can see why meditating for long stretches is just not for me right now. However, the Universe, having delivered the smack, sent me a clue. In a random moment on Amazon, up popped a small book by Thich Nhat Han. I don’t even remember the title (I already own several of his books, and love his work). It was the blurb that caught my attention. It said something about meditating while doing daily tasks. Ding ding ding! Now that, possibly, could be do-able.
In the past, I have read about mindfulness, tried to be more mindful, and tried to be present in my daily life. Honestly, now I see that I did not even know what mindfulness IS. Momfulness is teaching me mindfulness. Because, in this little book, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, Thich Nhat Han somehow got through to me and made me see that Aela, my daughter, IS my meditation. All day. Every day. Everything is my meditation. And that the Master does not meditate for an hour and then go “do life.” Even though I sorta kinda knew this before, now I KNOW THIS. The Master is noticing her breath, noticing and allowing her emotions, noticing and watching her thought patterns and reactions, and listing to inner guidance – even while mothering. Even while working. Even while cooking dinner.
I was trying to take a break from life to turn inward and recharge. That simply doesn’t work anymore. Not right now, in this new life. I can do that sometimes, but I must find another way, as well.
I am discovering how I can recharge right now. And again, right now. It’s really challenging to notice my breath, notice my emotions, allow them, and see my mind patterns while doing another activity, like mothering (in all its various forms). It forces me to develop my inner awareness and witness in a much stronger way than I was doing in the past. I’m really new at this, since I just learned it, but I’m really really excited about it. In one small shift of perception, I found a hidden doorway in the wall and entered a secret passageway – one that takes me where I wanted to go, all along. I feel like I just fit the last piece into a jigsaw puzzle, or solved a riddle, or found the last clue that solves the case.
I have that inner guidance, and it’s not waiting for me to sit down and meditate. It’s always here.
I’ve always TRIED to hear it throughout the day, but found it not-so-easy. Motherhood is teaching me to learn this art. The only thing I need to do to hear inner wisdom, and to feel that delicious feeling of being in-sync with the Universe, is to keep up with the emotional housekeeping. When I repress emotion, I get stuck in my mind. It loops. It worries. It does its thing. I can’t see it, because I am caught in it. When I feel my emotions, allow them, and return to my body, I become the witness of the mind again. I am freed of the tension it takes to hold in emotion. I am freed of the patterns that my mind repeats when I am not present. Everything is more relaxed and energized. Everything is more fluid. And inner wisdom simply flows through, informing, directing, and guiding me.
I certainly don’t do it perfectly. Because perfectly is just another mind-story. A pattern. A wisp of a thought that exists only in my mind. Reality is just right now – messy, real, grounded, and deeply, deeply rich. I’m a lifelong emotion avoider, but I do see that when I avoid, I miss this rich thing we call the present. Right now is the moment to feel. Right now is the moment to be here with myself. When I forget, there’s no problem. Because now it’s right now, and I remember again. And that’s my practice.