I used to suffer from paralyzing anxiety. When it came on, I couldn’t move or breath or speak. Then I would become anxious about the anxiety and it would spiral into complete immobilization. It sucked. After years of yoga practice, I was finally able to sit with my breath long enough to meditate and slowly, but surely my anxiety has subsided.
I am eternally grateful that I was able to develop this practice before having a child. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to maintain my sanity in my daughter’s first year without it.
The good news is that you can start meditating any time. Seriously. Do it now, close your eyes (or half close them if you have a baby currently in your care) and breathe. Focus on your breath.
There you go.
Meh, but I don’t really think meditation is for me.
Could you use a tool to help ease your anxiety, depression and stress?
There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of meditation with varied results. I usually turn to a meta-analysis conducted in 2014 by researchers at Johns Hopkins University that very conservatively agrees that there is evidence that meditation may improve:
- Mental health related quality of life
That’s cool, but you have to do it 20 minutes every day to see results, right? I just don’t have that kind of time.
Nope. A recent study found that just one meditation session can decrease anxiety. Further, there is no conclusive research on the efficacy of meditation based on the length of the practice.
Oh, really? But I don’t have a fancy cushion or access to the hippest meditation studio, so I probably can’t do it properly.
Another recent study published in Health Care for Women International demonstrated how meditation improved the self-efficacy, perceived stress, and mental and physical quality of life for single, impoverished, illiterate mothers in Uganda (who presumably also do not have access to the meditation studio du jour).
Okay, fine. You’ve convinced me. Do I need to find a guru and head to a silent retreat?
No. Not even close. You can literally develop a deep meditation practice from anywhere (the only caveat when you have children is that you need to keep an eye on them). Here is how you can create a regular practice that will help you manage the aforementioned mama anxiety, depression, stress, etc. ps. I am not a meditation guru, just a person who has been able to incorporate a meditation practice into my daily life and has benefitted from it tremendously.
- Make it a
priority. Commit to
finding a way to meditate regularly and don’t stop until it is a
second-nature habit (like, say, brushing your teeth).
- Try it on
for size. Research the
different types of meditation and find one that suits you. Pinterest is a good place to start. Just like
with everything else, meditation is not one size fits all and an important
component of incorporating it into your daily life is to find something
that works for you.
- Start small.
just 5 minutes and build up to a longer practice. I think a lot of people
get overwhelmed because they feel they have to sit for 20 minutes (which
can feel really hard). If you wanted to start running you wouldn’t jump
out of the gate and run a marathon, right? No, you’d start with a mile or
two and then build up to 26 over time. Even though I love meditating and
wholeheartedly believe in its benefits, it took me some time to develop a
habitual daily practice.
- Download an
app. I love Insight Timer. A lot of
people really like the guidance provided by Headspace. Expectful and Mind the Bump are cool
apps created just for mamas. Again, it’s more about finding what works
best for you than doing what I or everyone else is doing.
- Go to a
class. There are
meditation studios popping up all over the country, so take advantage of
them! I don’t know about you, but if I take a yoga class at home by myself
there is an much, much higher chance I won’t complete it. Get to a studio
and sit with others who will hold you accountable to sitting for the
- Find a
meditation buddy. Find
someone to sit with. Schedule regular meditation sessions with a friend in
person or via text. This will help you feel accountable to showing up and
putting in the time.
- Make it a
habit. Schedule it
into your calendar or plan to meditate with a friend every day or pair it
with another activity (this is what ended up working for me, I meditate
every day after I give my daughter breakfast and before I eat my own).