One mom’s key to meditating with baby? Lowering the bar

New mom Diana Winston “desperately wanted” her ideas about meditation with her baby to work. Here she shares her most successful experiments.

Diana Winston
6 May 2011
Photo by Caleb Woods

First off, true confessions: A few months ago I wrote here about meditating with my toddler. My husband I were trying a five minute experiment—sitting in meditation together while letting her play in the room.

My post waxed on the beauty of comparing the antics of my mind to antics of our daughter. She ran around, whined, demanded attention, jumped on us, and we just stayed in a meditative state, open to the full experience.

Well, that worked… for a few weeks. That’s it. After a certain age it became impossible and we gave up. I desperately wanted it to work (especially since I had wrote about it) but then reality hit. Meditating with a toddler in the room, with both parents in silence, simply did not work. So try it at home only if you have vast reserves of patience and endurance.

We decided to lower the bar and I’ll share the most successful meditation experiments so far:

1. Each parent gets 3-5 minutes in a meditative space while the other watches the child in the room.  This for some reason did not satisfy my husband, he thought it felt like more childcare in shifts. But we do it from time to time.

2. Before we eat we hold hands at the table and say thank you to earth and sky and veggies and animals and then we all take a breath. My daughter LOVES this. Simple, effective, and right in the midst of life. When we forget to do it, she often reaches out her hands and whines to remind us.

3. I have taught my daughter to meditate. For two seconds. She watches me and since this age is all about imitation, she wants to be like me. So she sits cross-legged by me and then we smile at each other and take a breath. That’s it. When she seemed to enjoy it I was beside myself. My baby is meditating!

I’d love to hear of your experiments meditating with toddlers and babies. Any luck?

photo of Diana Winston

Diana Winston

Diana Winston is the Director of Mindfulness Education at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center MARC . She is the author of The Little Book of Being, published by Sounds True, and the co-author of Fully Present: The Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness. She is a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and is a founding board member of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association.