Meditation & Motherhood
As a yoga teacher meditation has been a big part of my life for over ten years. Before becoming a mum I would meditate religiously twice a day. Couple this with my daily yoga practice I was often known for not being approachable anytime in the morning! I wouldn't answer any phone calls, messages or emails until I had showered, practiced yoga, meditation and eaten breakfast.... in silence might I add whilst savouring the peace from my morning. By the time I looked at my messages it would be well past 10am and people would often ask if I had enjoyed my 'lie in'.... as if I had just woken up then and looked at my phone!
When I found out I was pregnant back in January 2018 I knew that not only was life going to change dramatically but I may not have time or space to meditate! If I'm really honest I tried not to think about it during my pregnancy because I didn't want to think about how life would be without meditation. I mean I had just about got through the last ten years of life because of meditation otherwise who knows what life would have been like for me.
I heard various stories from different parents on how they approached meditation whilst dealing with a baby. Most parents said that meditation was put on hold for about six months! This made me wince... how could I survive without meditating for six months?! Also wouldn't meditation be the key tool to help you deal with all the changes of having a new little person in your life? Surely there must be a way to weave it into life whilst being a mum? So I clung onto this hope that somehow I would work it out and surely I would find five minutes to myself a day... right?! And actually despite the obvious ‘no’ that is probably ringing in most people’s ears I very quickly realised that there is always time to meditate.
The first step was the birth itself where I used a combination of breathing techniques and affirmations to help me move into a meditative state for the birth. I really believe that it was meditation that helped me through the whole process. When we brought Vanaya home things we're still so exciting and new and I really didn't meditate or even think about taking the time to meditate. However after a few days of adjusting to life including the changes in my body I started to feel the need for some time to sit quietly in my own space. Fortunately for the first three weeks I had a lot of help from family members and when Vanaya slept I either slept or did some sort of self-care whether it was meditation, having a bath or even having a massage (By the way I would really recommend a masseuse to come to your house in the first few weeks after labour.)
However eventually the help left and it was just me and Vanaya. How could I meditate now? First of all I am never alone and when Vanaya does sleep I either need to sleep, cook or clean! Surely it is now impossible?! Well if you have a sense of hope there is always a way and so instead of meditation as such I started to practice mindfulness. I started to really hone into the present moment especially the moments that I shared with Vanaya. I think being present in those moments with her really started to build our relationship together. And surely that’s what parenting is... the ability to be present to your child. From there I started to meditate while breastfeeding but if I'm really honest I was still adjusting to the feeling, the sensation and let’s be honest the shear pain of breastfeeding that when I meditated it seemed to just highlight and hone in on the pain even more! I continued to work on mindfulness during the day and oddly enough I found sporadic moments in the middle of the night when I finished feeding Vanaya and couldn't fall back asleep again. There is something about the middle of the night which is peaceful and quiet which really helps you to get straight into a meditative state. There are of course also those moments when you think you are meditating but your head just keeps dropping off as you seem to drift off into sleep!
As you can see initially there was no set pattern or routine to meditate. I took the time as and when I could. Eventually though I realised that I needed to up the game. I became apparent to this when I started to lose my ground slightly and did some things that were slightly out of character. At first I could just excuse it as being a new mum but eventually I knew something needed to shift and change. In order to find myself again I knew that I would need to get back into my regular morning and evening meditation routine.
Vanaya was now about six months and she had started to get into a regular sleeping routine. As much as I resisted this I now hold my hands up to the fact that I am one of those parents that sticks to nap times come hell or high water! When Vanaya sleeps it means I get time to myself and this is so incredibly valuable. I tend to meditate before she wakes up (if I can get myself out of bed at 6am) or during her morning nap and then in the evening before I go to bed I will meditate again. But I do have to be incredibly disciplined about it and I have to resist any urges to clean, cook, answer messages, slouch on the sofa or fall asleep etc until after I have done my meditation.
Also there have been many times that I have heard the sounds of Vanaya’s cries whilst I've been in the depths of a peaceful meditation and I have had to leave my practice to attend to her but I guess that is the price of motherhood. We can train them as much as we want to fit around our life but it may not always work! Instead I use those opportunities to practice acceptance and gratitude for the moment.
The journey continues and to be honest every day is different but what I know for sure is that meditation is part of my life. Motherhood has now just proved that even when things feel different and life is all over the place I know I still can integrate meditation into my life. Also without meditation I wouldn’t be able to approach motherhood in the same way. Meditation allows me to be the mother I want to be and the mother that will nurture my child to the best of my ability.
Do you meditate? If so how does it support you as a mother/father or any other role or responsibility you have to carry out? Let me know your thoughts and it would be great to hear from you. Please also share this post with anyone else who might find it interesting.
Lots of love,