When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I went through a whole range of emotions: excited, nervous, terrified, anxious, and elated. I set up her nursery, bought a few monkeys, pre-registered at the hospital, took a slightly helpful childbirth class, and considered myself ready.
I had 17 years of meditation practice under my belt until motherhood. I thought, how different can motherhood be from other disorders of everyday life? How difficult will it be to know life with presence and awareness with babies, when I have been training there for so long?
It turns out that it is extremely different and extremely difficult. In my experience of having two children 15 months apart, I can say that motherhood hit me like a semi-truck and dragged me down a path of complete confusion and disorientation (with a good murmur of sleep deprivation) for two years before I felt like I was recovering part of my foot.
Now that I’m a little more stable, I want to share my top three tips as well as accompanying meditations to help you on your parenting journey. My hope is to help you prepare for this transition, or at least make sure you are not alone.
Lesson no. 1 about parenting: Babies have more things than they seem
Mindfulness Tip: Forgive yourself and ask for help
It was 2 in the morning. My 15-month-old son woke up every three hours with a 103-degree fever. My 3 week old son refused to breastfeed, waking up every few hours and screaming inconsolably and almost perfectly coordinated until I finally got my other son to sleep. My husband yelled at his pillow. I threw my screaming baby at her and went to cry on the dirty bathroom floor.
In those days, my husband and I struggled daily to find out who acted more like a baby. The truth was that we were both. We were pouring every gram of energy and parental care into our children, leaving us feeling dry to take care of ourselves.
When I stopped thinking about my desire to be cared for as a shameful inconvenience and more as a necessity, two things changed. First, I began to be kinder and kinder to myself over the course of the day, forgiving my messy house, my endless pile of clothes, and letting my son repeatedly lick the side of the bucket. garbage because it kept him quiet. .
I asked myself, “What can I do for you right now? How can I cushion this difficult time?” Sometimes it was just a deep breath. Sometimes it was a trip to the cafeteria. It didn’t matter what it was. Personal love was all that mattered.
Second, I started asking for help as if it were my job. I asked family, friends, local mom groups, acquaintances, and even Facebook for home, tips, food, and even comfort. I’ve never been a big help seeker, but when I began to consider the many babies in my home (especially my husband and I) and the sheer impossibility of surviving alone, I gathered the strength to ask. A staggering number of people sometimes passed by. And even when they couldn’t, it still felt good to ask without embarrassment.
Paternity lesson no. 2: You are going through a massive change
Mindfulness Tip: Try to be patient
Before motherhood, I thought having a baby would be like buying a new sofa for my house. It was a great investment. It would bring a lot of comfort to my life. Maintenance would be required. But in the end, I would still be me and the couch would be the couch.
Instead, having a baby changed the molecular structure of who I am as a person. Being a mother was not just “Yael + baby”. The mathematics of motherhood transformed the being who was “Yael” into someone who was almost unrecognizable. My body was completely different, with new folds and pillows that didn’t exist before. My mind was full of to-do lists, new and urgent fears, and a disorienting feeling of time passing too slowly and too fast.
In my old life, my daily meditation was where I focused. Now, in the rare moments I could take to formally meditate, I never strayed far from the lists of mental groceries and diaper orders. I was staggering, inside and out.
It took him a while to realize the colossal change that being a father would entail. I clung to the idea of the baby as a sofa long after it became clear that motherhood was much more radical and transformative than I had imagined. Realizing this and accepting the pain that came with the death of the old life, I was able to slowly enter my life with more patience, curiosity, and even amazing joy.
Related: Do You Think You Don’t Have Time to Meditate? Try this
You will not be the same after babies. Even if you did not give birth to them, you will be transformed in a way that you do not yet see. Try to be patient as your life and your old sense of self dissolve and reorganize.
Lesson 3 on Parenting: Your spiritual path and your life are not separate
Mindfulness Tip: Be present
Walking around Instagram during maternity leave, a newborn sleeping lightly on my lap, I was jealous of the magnificent photos of people doing yoga on distant beaches, coming out bright and shiny from meditation retreats. I was aware of the irony of that jealousy, as I had been feeling it for decades while looking at photos of people in my exact situation with newborn babies, but that’s it. Jealousy is not exactly obedient to logic.
I met with a spiritual director during that time. After hearing me cry for losing my practice and wishing I could go to a retreat, he looked me in the eye and said, “Yael, your spiritual life is no different from your real life.” I felt the truth strike me like lightning. Of couse! He sought wisdom, knowledge, and freedom everywhere, except where he has always been, in the present moment. Life, as it is.
Adjusting my vision to see my life with babies as my practice, I began to notice myself a lot. I saw the pain and beauty of impermanence as my children grew out of their clothes and learned new skills. I felt the expanding vulnerability and love of the heart beyond the boundaries of the self as I looked into their eyes or held their tiny, warm bodies. I felt the pain of resisting life when I clung to the development of my life as a mother, and the release of that suffering when I softened and opened up to the flood of feelings I had. under.
Related: The healing power of self-healing through Ayurveda
Your spiritual life is your daily life. The two are not separated. If you notice that you are struggling with life, pushing against the truth of how things are, escaping the phone, or running away from your mind, see if you can return to the present moment with gentleness and courage. Even though it is painful, you will suffer less and notice more. Life is here, waiting for you.
By Yael Shy
#Meditations #tips #mothers #transition #motherhood
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