For most people with children, the thought of adding meditation to their busy schedules may seem impossible, given how all-consuming and overwhelming parenting can often be. The mere idea of finding time can be stressful. And yet, if we consider the numerous benefits of meditation — of finding a little more spaciousness in our minds to be less reactive and more responsive; of learning what it means to be more present and engaged with our kids — then meditation can be viewed as an effective, rewarding parenting tool. Imagine the positive impact for the entire household, of being calmer, softer, more compassionate, and more content … and you need only meditate for as little as ten minutes a day.
If anything will test our ability to remain calm, patient, and in the moment, it’s the joy of parenting. From the first thing in the morning to bedtime, the mind can be bombarded with the needs, requests, emotions, and schedules of the little ones … and it’s not always easy to stay level-headed, understanding, and attentive. The experience of parenting is a wonderful opportunity to see exactly how our mind behaves under pressure. Parenting is the obvious answer to the question, “Why meditate?” Here are four good reasons why:
Meditation has a significant number of mental and physical benefits. Take, for example, the research showing that meditation can increase compassion; in one study, participants who used Headspace for three weeks increased compassion by 21%. Even if your meditation practice focuses inwardly, your kids will still reap the benefits because you’ll be better equipped to show them loving kindness in return.
Increased happiness and positivity are two additional benefits of meditation. One study showed that 10 days of Headspace resulted in a 16% increase in happiness and positive emotions. As a parent, you probably already know that your mood can be affected by your kids’ behavior. That’s why one of the best ways to cultivate your children’s happiness is to attend to your own, whether that’s through meditation or some other form of self-care.
For many parents, raising kids to be resilient when life inevitably knocks them down is a top priority. What’s the best way to teach resilience? By modeling it yourself, which is where meditation can help. Research shows that meditation increases resilience; in one study, participants who used the Headspace app for 30 days increased resilience by 11%. Parenting may give us a thick skin. Meditation makes it thicker.
And, of course, many parents find that meditation helps them to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and cultivate peace of mind — all of which contributes to a low-stress environment, which helps kids thrive. Establishing a regular meditation practice is one of the best and consistent ways to teach your children how to cope with stress and other negative emotions. By modeling meditation as a self-care tool, we are effectively teaching the next generation to be kinder, calmer, more compassionate, and less caught up in their heads. We teach them to breathe, zoom out, and adopt a healthy perspective on life.
This simple meditation — called the STOP method — can be used whenever you need a quick break from the chaos of parenting. Or, it can even work as a family meditation to wind down from the day together. It helps you let go of stress or whatever else is bothering you at the moment, so you can be more present with the people around you.
Here’s how it works:
Pause whatever you are doing. You can even sit down in a comfortable position.
Take a few deep breaths.
Breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Use the inhale to be mindful of taking in fresh air, your lungs expanding. Exhale any stress in the body and in your mind. Feel your muscles soften and relax.
Notice and pay attention with curiosity to your thoughts, sensations, and emotions.
Return to whatever you were doing, responding to your family from a clearer, calmer mental state.
If you’re looking for more meditations for parents, the Headspace app offers subscribers several courses on topics related to parenting, including: Patience, Kindness, Losing Your Temper, Listening to Others, Feeling Overwhelmed, and many more. (And if you’re not yet a subscriber, you can give it a try before committing — the first meditation for each course is free!) Or, check out Headspace’s entire relationships collection, a selection of recommended meditations and Headspace animations to guide you on a journey to strengthen your relationships with yourself and those around you. Sign up for free today, and start experiencing the powerful benefits of meditation.
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