I chose the title for this post in a bit of a “funny, not funny” moment. Because let’s be honest- if you’re a mom, finding time in your day to sit in a quiet place and turn your focus inward for more than, say, 3 seconds is very, very difficult. However, it IS possible and, as someone meditates every day with a toddler, I’m here to tell you how.

When I decided I needed to start a meditation practice 15+ years ago, what I “knew” about meditation was that you were supposed to sit on a cushion, cross-legged, close your eyes and try to not think of anything for 30 minutes. As anyone who has tried this knows, your eyes close and instantly your to-do list starts running through your head. Or, you may think “breathe in, breathe out…breathe in…shit, I’m thinking about breathing…I’m failing…I’m never going to be good at this…how many minutes has it been…did I leave the oven on?”

Below are 10 steps to help you establish a fulfilling meditation practice that works, even when your life doesn’t:

1) Set Your Intention: First, it helps to get clear on why you want to start meditating. It might be to reduce stress, improve focus, enhance self-awareness, or my personal favorite, as a method of self-care. Understanding your purpose will keep you motivated throughout the process.

I also enjoy setting an intention before every session. Taking a moment to open my heart and send love to someone or call something into myself. I might also pull an intention card if I need some inspiration. I love this deck from Etsy.

2) Choose Your Time and Space: First, select a time of day when you can consistently dedicate a few minutes to meditation. For me, this is the early morning, which happens to be the one time of day I can mostly control. I also find the still and quiet exterior world helps me still and quiet my internal world so I get to my emotional fulfillment faster (always good).

Next, create a peaceful and comfortable environment in which you can be quietly without distractions. It could be a specific corner in your home or a peaceful outdoor spot. Sometimes, I meditate in my car in the garage, or when out for a walk.

That said, the process of building my yoga and meditation space was one of the most pleasurable activities I have had in many years. Every time I step in to practice, I am instantly calmed and held by the energy. Read more about this in my post here.

3) Start with Short Sessions: Begin with short meditation sessions, like 5-7 minutes, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the process, space and routine. It’s better to maintain consistency with shorter sessions rather than occasional long ones.

4) Find a Comfortable Posture: Sit in a posture that allows you to be relaxed and alert. You can choose a cross-legged position on a cushion, sit on a chair with your feet grounded, or even lie down if necessary (though you’re going to be at greater risk of falling asleep if you do this). Ideally, you want to maintain an upright spine and ensure your body is relaxed.

I went through a couple meditation cushions and mats before I found the right combination. What works for me is a cushion that is shaped like bean- it allows me to pull my feet in closer to my body than a circular cushion- and a relatively firm mat of kusha grass covered in a woolen blanket.

5) Focus on Your Breath: Concentrate on your breath as an anchor for your attention. Observe the natural flow of your breath—inhaling and exhaling—without trying to control it. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath.

I find that just focusing on my breath lengthens and deepens my inhales and exhales, which helps soothe my Sympathetic Nervous System (fight/flight/freeze) and activate my Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest/digest). In fact, the breath is the only path we have to voluntarily control the activation of our Autonomic Nervous System (the SNS and the PNS). So cool!

This is also a great technique to fall back on when you’re frustrated with your kids, your co-workers, traffic, etc. You will begin to consciously “drop into” this space by controlling your breath throughout the day.

6) Cultivate Non-judgmental Awareness: Be aware of your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations as they arise, without judgment or attachment. Acknowledge them and let them pass without getting caught up in them. Develop a sense of observing your experiences with equanimity.

This was probably the hardest part for me- my inner critic was constantly berating me when my mind wandered. As I developed a relationship with my critic and learned how to gently and lovingly calm my activated parts, I naturally came back to center, to Self, and to the state of meditative bliss. You can read more about parts, Self and the Internal Family Systems model here.

7) Utilize Tools: If you’re new to meditation, consider using guided meditations or meditation apps that provide instructions and support. These resources can help you stay focused and offer different meditation techniques to explore.

Another option is to practice mantra japa, which is repeating a specific mantra to yourself in time with your breath, while counting repetitions on a mala. A mala is a string of beads, generally 108 or some divisor of 108 (like 54, 36 or 18). You would say the mantra as you inhale on one bead, and say it again as you exhale on the next bead. This engages the mind by focusing on the breath and mantra and engaging the sense of touch with the bead. This is the primary style of meditation I practice. 

I give myself permission to adapt my practice every day based on how I am feeling. For example, sometimes I will sometimes put on a playlist of nature sounds or other soothing ambient music rather than keeping silence. During the spring and summer, I often leave my window open to allow the bird singing and crisp air to filter in rather than withdrawing the senses and lighting candles. I choose a mala every day based on my PIES (physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual) assessment. You can read more about that process here.

8) Be Patient With and Kind To Yourself: Remember that meditation is a practice, and it takes time to develop. Be patient with yourself and avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Some days will be easier than others, and that’s normal. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion throughout the process.

9) Establish a Routine: Consistency is key to developing a meditation practice. Set aside dedicated time each day, even if it’s just a few minutes. Making it a regular habit will help it become a natural part of your daily routine. I committed to doing at least 108 mantra repetitions every day for a year. It’s amazing how much that small discipline has yielded in terms of my commitment to myself and my internal space.

10) Seek Guidance and Community: Consider joining a meditation group or seeking guidance from experienced meditators or teachers. Engaging with a supportive community can offer additional insights, encouragement, and accountability. There are lots of mamas who meditate- a new layer of community!

Lastly, remember, there are various meditation techniques, such as focused attention, loving-kindness, mindfulness of the body, and more. Feel free to explore different approaches and find what resonates with you the most. I explain some of the most popular approaches in this post.

Thanks for reading and I am wishing you the best on your journey! As always, feel free to reach out to book a free consultation if you’d like to learn more :)

Xoxo,

Mariah

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