New mom Diana Winston “desperately wanted” her ideas about meditation with her baby to work. Here she shares her most successful experiments, and how they’ve made for special time for mother, child, and dad alike.
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?
I can definitely relate to this. We don't meditate, but we do put our hands together in gassho before each meal and say "Namu Amida Butsu" three times. Or son (four) really likes to do this. And he likes to listen as I do my daily sutra chanting. As he put it, "I really like the noises of Daddy!"
Suzanne M (via FB) says
if it's good enough for the baby, it is good enough for me!!!
Louisa M (via FB) says
OMG, I want to try this with my 5-year old niece. Thank you Diana!
Ceci Miller says
Commendable that you're making such valiant efforts to meditate — while your child is in the room! I never had much luck with this, and meditated mostly while he was napping, or after he went to bed at night (danger of calling into slumber myself was high at this point, though). A former client, Sarah Wood, has a lovely book on teaching meditation to children, using sensory awareness. See SarahWood.com if you're interested.
Julie M (via FB) says
It was much easier to get my cat to sit peacefully on one knee while I meditate- eventually he just accepted I would ignore him no matter how loud the complaining. My hat's off to you Diana, helping parents with human children continue in their practice.
For me, meditating with my children is all about being mindful and in the moment with them. I sit in meditative posture and watch them go about their business while I soak in the moment and let it pass. If thoughts or the impulse to intervene arises, I observe them and ask myself if intervention is necessary: Are they hurting themselves or each other? Are their actions destructive or inquisitive? Can that mess be cleaned up later?
Occasionally my practice does need to be interrupted and intervention is necessary. However, it is surprising the calmness and patience I have in dealing with those things coming out of my meditation.
I am reminded of a quote by an unknown author, "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."
You have courage. I can't imagine ever working up the nerve to "meditate" with my children (now grown up). But however "meditation for children" works out (good luck!), I'm confident that you can cultivate "paying attention".
I called my children's attention to the colors in a rainbow (not just the rainbow, but "what colors do you see? which one is on top? which one is on the bottom?), to the smells of flowers (luckily Portland is the City of Roses), the texture of leaves and flowers.
Another good one that I heard about just recently: sit down with your little one in front of a bush in the garden and draw (or when they get older, write) everything that visits it: bugs, birds, worms, maybe moss growing on the bush. "Write it down Mommy!" You can do this for 5 minutes in the morning. Choose another (?) bush to visit just after dinner and do it again. Post the list on the fridge.
During my whole pregnancy I practiced Womb Breathing meditation and it made a great difference for me, even during labor. Now I am trying to do the same practice with my baby in my arms, visualizing all the energy inhaled going to him. It for sure calms him down, I love it and consider it our meditation time.
all the comments come straight from the heart……….there's no window dressing here…..that's why i loved it ALL.