By the time my daughter was 2 years old, I had completed treatment for cancer. Still very ill, I was on a quest to find health. I understood cancer to be an environmental disease, and while I could not say I knew what had caused the disease, I thought if I made enough changes, I could remove the underlying cause.
I took up yoga, among other practices to cultivate health. I gained so many healing benefits from the practice, especially working with sound and breath, and before long, I found myself engaging in a daily meditation practice.
At first, I would meditate after Kaylee would go to sleep. It started with a few minutes a day. After a few months, it was over an hour.
In every other aspect of my life, I was more calm and perceptive. The benefits of the practice were clearly evident and had a positive impact in my relationships and my ability to parent.
But, it was really hard to do. How do you meditate with a little one by your side?
If I got out of bed in the morning, she would wake up. Upset and overtired, it would make a difficult day for us both. When I waited for her to go to sleep, I was often too tired to stay awake.
The more serious I became about the practice. The more annoyed I was if Kaylee woke up. If I heard a noise come from the bed, my heard would jump as I feared an end to my blissful retreat.
By the time she was 3, I had many incidents of being irritated and having an overtired child who woke up alone and upset.
At some point, I was at a dinner party and heard a story about a little girl who sat cross legged with her hands in gyan mudra (thumb and index finger tips touching) resting on her knees. The little girl then grimaced and yelled “MOMMYS MEDITATING!” Everyone laughed at the irony while I completely connected with the situation.
While the practice had helped me be a better mother at every other moment, I was not responding with Love and patience during practice.
It was clear, something needed to change.
And then, I got it.
This practice of meditation. Of being in the moment. Of activating the healing side of myself. Of taking it breath by breath, moment by moment. It was very similar to the experience of loving my daughter. Loving her without the judgements or fears. Those moments where its just her and me and it doesn’t matter what else is around or what needs to be done.
Moments of unconditional Love.
I decided that instead of trying to fight my daughter, I would work her into the practice. Instead of leaving bed to meditate, I would simply sit up in bed. Instead of trying to meditate after she fell asleep, when I was too tired, I would put her to sleep in my lap while I meditated (this was and continues to be great method of getting her to fall asleep!). If she woke up during my practice, I would invite her to join me and give her a hug. If that meant I didn’t get more than 3 minute intervals of concentration or my eyes were open the entire time or I really didn’t meditate at all, that was okay.
My intention was on Love. Once I opened myself to how I experienced that Love, the practice became more deep and the experience of my daughter transformed. I also found that if I took breaks while meditating to interact with her, she would happily play around me and give me some space.
Some days she even sits next to me, cross legged, hands in gyan mudra and tells me, “I’m meditating.”
While it isn’t easy to meditate with a toddler or preschooler climbing all over you, it is possible. The key is in remembering that meditation is not about being calm during a moment of peace. Its about cultivating the ability to have peace during a storm, whether that storm lives in experiences in our days or the expectations in our minds.
And what easier way to prepare then to practice in a storm everyday?