by guest blogger Angela Chee
Life moves fast and we’re all busy. We have our work, our families, and responsibilities – then on top of that, keeping up with friends, our social networks, technology, our hobbies, and everything else. It can be exhausting.
One of my goals this year is to be more peaceful, more zen, if you will. You would think that since my blog is called The Zen Mom, being zen would come naturally for me. Well, it doesn’t, and that is the whole point of my blog – exploring ways to experience more balance, calm, and joy in the midst of parenting chaos. It’s about the daily journey. So a few months ago I decided to start exploring meditation.
I’d practiced yoga for years, but I’d never meditated. Okay, maybe I’d sat in a room trying to be peaceful and quiet, only to have my to-do list run through my head. But I’d never learned a specific practice or technique. I always thought I’m busy enough already. Who has time to meditate? When I had extra time, I would rather work out or pamper myself, but this year I realized I need to make time to hear myself. By slowing things down a bit, I hoped that I might actually find that I’d have more time rather than less.
Diving into Meditation
I started with the Chopra Center’s free 21-Day Meditation Challenge. I loved it! The guided meditations were very enlightening and soothing, and I liked that I could access them online to fit my schedule. There’s a new Mind-Body Odyssey 21-Day Meditation Challenge starting today (Feb. 20) – and you can still register for here.
From Guided Meditations to Primordial Sound Meditation . . .
My experience with the 21-Day Meditation Challenge piqued my interest and led me to attend the Chopra Center’s Meditation Weekend retreat last month. At the retreat, the guests received instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation, which is different from guided meditations. Primordial Sound Meditation is a mantra meditation practice, and once you receive your mantra, you can meditate anywhere, without the need for audio equipment or anything other than a place to sit down.
At the Meditation Weekend, I learned a few things I’d like to share.
- ―Meditation is not about forcing the mind to be quiet; rather it’s a process to rediscover the quietness that’s already there.
- ―Don’t worry if you sit down to be still and your brain won’t be quiet. The human brain has about 70,000 thoughts a day. Mediating is not about not having any thoughts, but rather about slowing them down.
- ―To live a more balanced life, we need to focus more on being than doing.
If you want to learn more about the weekend itself, here’s a link to the description on the Chopra Center’s website.
Creating a Meditation Routine
Discovering meditation is great, and getting away for a weekend retreat was wonderful, but how do you make it a part of your life, especially as a mom? Well, it hasn’t been easy.
After the Meditation Weekend, I committed to meditating thirty minutes in the morning thirty minutes at night. With two kids under the age of four, the challenge was finding the time before they woke up and the energy after they went to bed. I thought the morning would be harder since they wake up at between 6 and 7 a.m., and getting up at 5:30 didn’t sound like fun. But I committed and set my alarm early. Most days it works, but there are some days when they wake up early and I get interrupted or I end up hitting snooze. My excuse is usually that I’m too tired, but then I try to remember the fact that I’d learned that meditating for half an hour provides more psychological rest than a full night’s sleep. And who couldn’t use more rest?
It was actually more difficult for me to do my evening meditations, especially on the weekends. There was never a good time to break away from family to meditate for half an hour. I know that sounds like another excuse and it was, but it made me feel discouraged every time I missed an evening meditation.
Being Gentle with Ourselves
For now I have shifted my goal. I am committed to meditating at least thirty minutes in the morning and am working up to meditating regularly in the evenings as well. It’s a work in progress, but I am still committed to my practice. I think it’s important to not be so hard on ourselves. Isn’t that the point of meditation . . . to be more peaceful, especially with ourselves? As a Type A person, this is hard for me, but I focus on remembering why I decided to start a meditation practice. So if you’re thinking about starting something, just start and know you may hit some roadblocks. And when you do, don’t give up!
How do you find stillness and calm and how are you making it work in your life? I’d love to hear your comments.
Angela Chee is a former TV news anchor, now mother of two, juggling life as a host, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. She started The Zen Mom.com because if you’re a mom, you know motherhood isn’t always so zen. Her mission is to empower through wisdom, inspiration and laughter. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter @thezenmom.