Saturday, October 17, 2009

meditating mamas

For ten years before my last pixie was born, I was meditating two hours a day; one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. I joined many silent retreats, some for 10 days, some for 20 days and some for 30 days. I spent many weeks doing volunteer cooking and serving on retreats, even when pregnant I spent many hours in meditation centres...sitting, serving and loving it.

Since my little one was born, my meditation practice has had to change.

I never get time to go to the meditation centre we live close to these days and I very rarely get to sit for an hour, especially since my hubby has been working away for the last few months. Initially I was feeling guilty for not meditating until I decided to start working with the gaps and spaces in between the business of my day.

I started to meditate laying down next to my little one as she slept in the afternoon or evening and I started sending metta (loving kindness) during some of her daily feeds.I started feeling balanced and content once again, happy to have found a way to maintain my spiritual practice whilst living the life of a continuum mama. This was amazing for me to achieve but more amazing was the gift given to me by my little one and that was the gift of being in the moment...a truly spiritual quality.

My pixie demands that I am in the moment with her and if I slip into planning something for later or dwelling on something in the past whilst we are drawing or playing something, she quickly and skillfully drags me back into the present....what a gift!

I have spoke to many women about how they work to maintain their spiritual practice when they become mamas and many of them agree that it is a challenge for women to maintain their spiritual life when they become mothers but that it is not impossible...

If you have any thoughts of this I would love to hear them


  1. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, because I did not have my first child until 37, and my primary focus the preceeding 15 years had been a formal spiritual practice and study, including retreats, etc. In retrospect, the break and shifts in my practice that occurred after I had kids were the absolute best things that could have happened to me. I realized how attached I had become to reaching certain 'states' in meditation, and to my practice itself. I did very much what you did, just shifted my entire practice to my daily life, and it did me a world of good. My heart opened in ways my practice had never enabled, and certain control tendencies were finally released. And of course there are all the teachings around our daily life being the real practice and all that, in terms of both mindfulness and lovingkindness.
    That being said, I DO believe in the value of a formal daily practice, for those that feel drawn to it (and not everyone does - I think we all have very different needs in this regard, and personally I feel it is karmic and we will feel what we need if we are trying to do so), and I have gradually worked my way back towards daily practice, mostly before the kids get up on weekdays, and a little longer on weekends, when my husband is around. But it is very flexible, based on the needs of my family, and for me personally, that in itself is a practice for me - letting go of my expectations.

  2. Thankyou so much for sharing this with me. I am really at the stage now where I feel I need to return to my daily practice and I am just waiting for my hubby to finish working away so I can use his support initially. My hubby has never missed a sitting since our bub was born and I so admire this but must admit at times I guess I am envious too! I am hoping to create more oF a balance with my spiritual practice and family life as I too really value this...It sounds as though we are coming from very similar spaces and so I really looking forward to connecting with you more :)

  3. How totally groovy that you discovered those 'spaces' so soon! I've never been a meditator, not my thing. However, I absolutely need mental space to feel even remotely human. I was so spoilt with hours of that before baby. But like you, I discovered the spaces inbetween.

    Actually, I really only started discovering them recently, as it's only recently that I started to struggle with the lack of that space.

    And yes, it guides you into being very much present, partly beause you need to surrender to spurts and interruptions and spontaneous spaces.

    Those long stretches of time are definitely doable, but only either with giving up something big (like sleep), or having help (childcare, partner, etc).

    What I have 'missed' as far as my own spiritual practice is concerned (and mental space contributes to that), is time out in nature, or trance work. The former I'm working on doing with her, and the latter wil have to wait as it's too intense and requires my total absorption.
    But everything has its time....

  4. It is a tough for sure. Before baby I chanted. Now it is singing, it brings me to that place you know the one.. Additionally, I drum my heart out with my flea market treasure Tibetan drum. Baby enjoys this too.I guess that is a form of meditation hmmm

    I recently read Sarah Napathali's Buddhism for Mother books which resonated with me. I utilize many different traditions/perspectives on spirituality/meditation. :)

  5. I used to sort of meditate when I used to lie down with baby for a nap and couldn't fall asleep. Putting him in a sling and going for a nice walk is pretty great, too...I tend to think he is meditating on these walks as well, because he is so quiet! I don't do any formal meditation, though being religious I find a daily scripture read and prayer to be vital in my daily perspective.

    PS-cute pixie!

  6. I was right into vipassana after doing the 10 day silent meditation but very quickly after my first baby, slipped back into not meditating at all and haven't done since really. I admire you for your continued efforts, even if they aren't for as long. Keeping up the practice daily, even if it's 10 minutes is surely beneficial. Sometimes I felt vipassana was too rigid in that way, ie. by me not doing 1 hours practice morning and evening, that I would be a faliure meditator, or that all or nothing mentality. But now I'm much kinder and realise lying down in bed to meditate and for as long as conceivable is truly ok! I of course don't even do this, but you've inspired me. It really is neccessary ro motherhood isn't it. I really look forward to being able to volunteer on a retreat once my babies are all grown up.

  7. Vipassana is the meditation that we have done for the last 10 years...I also questioned the rigidity at times but once I started doing longer courses like 20, 30, 45 days I was so grateful for the "guidelines" as they really helped me meditate much better. I think that the structure is very beneficial for new meditators...really helping the student to get established but now, some years down the track and under very different circumstances I do what I can and what feels right and I feel good about that now but like I said above, I do value regular practice and yes I agree with you it is VERY beneficial for mothering, loving and living in general...really helps with the development of patience and compassion and so I will aim at getting back into it when the time is ripe :)

  8. i love this. thank you for sharing. i've never practiced anything regularly. but i think i can distinctly feel a pull towards such practices and the difference in me whenever i have been better at doing things like yoga or meditation.

    i loved what you wrote here:

    "My pixie demands that I am in the moment with her and if I slip into planning something for later or dwelling on something in the past whilst we are drawing or playing something, she quickly and skillfully drags me back into the present....what a gift!"

    that is how i feel as well. becoming a parent has actually helped me slow down more than anything ever has. i'm sure if i added yoga or meditation moments, it would make everything that much better. thank you for the inspiration.