Today I want to share some info with you about one of my favourite topics, MEDITATION FOR MUMS.
I also have a super special offer to help you kick-start your meditation practice, so make sure you read all the way to the end!
Meditation is my secret weapon. It’s not an exaggeration to say that daily meditation has changed my life.
But I know that lots of people find the idea of sitting in stillness to be confronting, tedious and overwhelming. I used to feel exactly the same way, but once I changed my approach to meditation, my practice started to feel light, easy and joyful.
And that’s why I’ve created this Beginner’s Guide to Meditation for Mums!
So what changed?
Meditation has been a part of my life for about five years now. For a long time it was a very on-and-off relationship. I used to get so frustrated at myself for not being able to clear my mind of distracting thoughts. I felt like a failure when I couldn’t sit still for more than five minutes. I would try to practice every day, but after a few days or weeks I would give up.
It just seemed too difficult.
I had read about the benefits of meditation – and they sounded amazing – so I was determined to keep trying. But for a few years it just didn’t feel easy or energising.
At the beginning of 2014, I signed up for a free 21 day meditation challenge with Claire Obeid. This was the first time that I used guided meditations, and it made such a big difference to my ability to concentrate and relax. By dedicating 10-15 minutes each day to my meditation practice, I quickly developed the habit.
That’s when the benefits of meditation really began to show up in my life.
What are the mind/ body/ spirit benefits of meditation?
The immediate effects that I’ve felt include:
- Reduced anxiety
- A feeling of calm – feeling totally blissed-out
- Improved sleep
- A quiet mind
- A relaxed body
- Peace, happiness and contentment.
Some long-term benefits of meditation that I hope to experience include:
- Reduced effects of stress
- Increased IQ
- Improved cognitive function and memory
- Improved concentration and memory
- Overall increase in physical and mental wellbeing**.
When I’m devoted to my daily meditation practice, every area of my life is infused with a greater sense of ease and calm. I am more productive, as I can concentrate for longer. I am more patient and accepting with my children. It even has a flow-on effect to the way I treat my body; I make healthier food choices, I am more active, and my self-talk is more positive.
Help! I don’t know how to meditate!
So you know why meditation is beneficial, but how do you actually do it?
The best way to meditate is whichever way works for you.
That might sound vague, but I absolutely believe that meditation can be helpful for you no matter how you choose to do it. Sitting on a chair, or cross-legged on the ground. Laying down on a yoga mat, or lying in bed. With a guided meditation, or listening to Enya. The details of the practice are less important than the act of making time to be still and to breathe.
As a general guide, a good way to start is to sit or lay down in a comfortable, quiet place and start paying attention to your breath. Take 3-5 deep belly breaths, slowly breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then return to normal breathing, but become aware of the quality, texture and speed of your breath. Don’t analyse it, just watch it.
You will have thoughts. This is totally normal, and the more you try to “stop thinking” the more your thoughts will take over. Instead, observe your thoughts as they enter your mind. Don’t cling on to them, or follow the stories. Just release them, and watch as they roll through your mind.
Do this for as long as you comfortably can. Don’t worry if you can only sit there for 5 minutes. The more you practice, the easier it will become, and the longer you will be able to meditate for.
If you find this technique way too hard, a guided meditation is the way to go. Pop one of these babies in your headphones, and it’s like you have your own personal meditation instructor by your side. For an amazingly helpful list of guided meditations, keep reading to the end of this post!
How I choose to meditate
As you can probably tell, I have a very carefree approach to my practice. I listen to my body and try to meditate the way that feels best at that time. Typically, I meditate for 15-20 minutes before bed. Most times I lay down and listen to guided meditations on my smartphone (with headphones). Occasionally, I will sit cross-legged on the floor, or even on the couch. Sometimes I light candles, or listen to soothing music. I always close my eyes, as that allows me to focus.
I might not meditate in the ‘right’ way all the time, but I always meditate the way that works best for me in the moment, and to me, that is the most important thing.
Why do I meditate at night?
Lots of meditation advocates encourage people to meditate first thing in the morning.
I don’t know about you, Mama, but I usually don’t have 20 minutes of alone time when I wake up in the morning. Most days I get woken up (far too early) by a chubby toddler foot to the side of my head, or the sweet sound of “Muuuuummmmyyyyy…. I’m huuuungryyyyy!”
I’ve tried (and failed) many times to wake up earlier than my kids to fit in some uninterrupted medi-time. I daydream about slow, quiet mornings of meditation and journalling and hot cups of tea, in the way other women fantasise about Channing Tatum. But in this season of my life, morning meditation is not an option. And I’m ok with that.
I love meditating at night. Yes, some nights I’m just too tired and I fall asleep instead. But most of the time, I relish the 20 minutes of quiet time before I go to sleep.
After a night time medi sesh, I fall asleep with ease, I stay asleep (if I’m not woken by the kids), and I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
I’m a person who loves to sleep. It’s one of my favourite pastimes 🙂 And because of my love for shuteye, sleep deprivation is probably my least favourite part of being a mama. Nightly meditation helps me to cope with the sleep deprivation that comes hand-in-hand with motherhood.
That one meditation payoff alone has been life-changing.
Now that you know why you should meditate, and how you can make it work for you, I bet you’re desperate for a list of guided meditations that will help you kick off your habit. Am I right?!
May I present to you, my:
Amazingly Helpful Guided Meditation Resource List!
If you’re a total medi newbie, there are plenty of awesome free guided meditations on the interwebs. Some of my favourites include:
- Gabrielle Bernstein
Gabby has a variety of meditation albums for sale on her website, but you can also find heaps of her short guided meditations (for free) on iTunes.
- Cora & Bodhi
Cora has some free meditations available on her website, including a Yoga Nidra track (which is yogic sleep meditation). This track is amazing for finding peace before bedtime.
- Amy Taylor-Kabbaz
Amy from Happy Mama has a beautiful free meditation track that you can download if you sign up to her newsletter. It is specifically created for mamas. Highly recommended!
- Video Meditations by Wabi-Sabi Well
My fave is the Guided Chakra Chimes Meditation 🙂
This is such a cool website/ app that allows you to select a meditation of varying lengths (2, 5, 10, 15 or 20 mins), guided or unguided, and you can choose which relaxing background scene to display. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play. I got this awesome recommendation from Roxanne at Baby Mamas.
Spotify has playlists dedicated to soothing meditation songs. I like this one. You can also easily find free tracks by searching for ‘meditation’ – easy peasy!
Paid Downloads (but oh-so worth it!)
If you’re ready to dive even deeper into the world of meditation, you may want to take a look at some of these brilliant resources:
- Belinda Davidson’s Guided Chakra Cleanse for Busy People
This is a longer meditation (about 35 mins) and it took me a few months of consistent practice to build up to this, but it’s now one of my favourite meditations. You’ll finish this one feeling aligned, clear + totally blissed!
- Claire Obeid’s Reveal Your Inner Radiance
Claire’s “Make Peace + Heal” album is my favourite set of guided meditations at the moment. She has two other collections, “Deeply Relax + Let Go” and “Feel Joy + Inspiration” which I’m sure are just as sublime. Each album also comes with a mini-eBook with journalling prompts to help you go even deeper into your practice.
- Melissa Ambrosini
Melissa has two beautiful meditation albums that are available to download from her website. My favourite track is the Manifestation Meditation.
- The Little Sage
I use the New Moon Manifesting and the Full Moon Releasing meditations. If you’re interested in the movements of the moon and planets like I am, these meditations are a beautiful way to connect with the lunar cycle.
- Connie Chapman’s Guided Meditations for Inner Transformation
- Jordan Bach’s Bedtime Mantras (recommended to me by Kate Selv)
- Sonesence meditones by Tahlee Rouillon (recommended to me by Lisa from Colored in Life)
- Sara Brooke’s meditation albums, from The Space In Between
- Deepak Chopra and Oprah have joined forces to create some incredible meditation albums.
- Mindfulness 4 Mothers is an online course by psychologist and mindfulness teacher, Kellie Edwards. The course teaches mums proven techniques for mindful parenting, and includes guided meditation audios. This resource was recommended to me by mindfulness coach, Rachel Davey.
One more thing! I promised you a super special bonus for reading to the end of the post. As a special treat, just for Sunny Mondays readers, mindfulness coach & trainer, Rachel Davey has generously offered 20% off her beautiful eBook, Turning Toward What Matters: An Introduction to Mindfulness Practice. Reading Rachel’s eBook is the perfect way to ignite your mindfulness & meditation practice.
To claim your copy, simply click here and enter the code ‘sunny’ at the checkout. This discount code expires in two weeks, on 9 November, 2015.
I hope you enjoyed this beginners guide to meditation, Mama. And I hope it has inspired you to take 5 minutes today to close your eyes and breathe.
You never know, it might change your life too.
Do you meditate?
Have any fabulous medi resources to add to my list?
Please share them with me in the comments below!
**These long-term benefits of meditation were reported in: Singh, Y., M.D., Sharma, R., PhD., & Talwar, A., M.D. (2012). Immediate and long-term effects of meditation on acute stress reactivity, cognitive functions, and intelligence. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 18(6), 46-53.
Photo credit: Chris Sardegna for Unsplash