By Your Headspace Mindfulness & Meditation Experts
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 idea of finding time can be stressful. And yet, if we consider the numerous benefits of meditation — of finding a little more spaciousness in the mind 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 10 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 routines, 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 the mind behaves under pressure. Parenting is the obvious answer to the question, “Why meditate?” Here are 4 good reasons why:
Take, for example, the research showing that meditation can increase compassion; in one study, participants who used Headspace for 3 weeks increased compassion by 21%. Even if our meditation practice focuses inwardly, our kids will still reap the benefits because we’ll be better equipped to show them loving kindness in return.
One study showed that 10 days of Headspace resulted in a 16% increase in happiness and positive emotions. As parents, we probably already know that our moods can be affected by our kids’ behavior. That’s why one of the best ways to cultivate our children’s happiness is to attend to your own, whether that’s through meditation or some other form of self-care.
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.
Establishing a regular meditation practice is one of the best and consistent ways to teach our 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 we 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 us let go of stress or whatever else is bothering us at the moment, so we can be more present with the people around us.
Here’s how it works:
Pause whatever you're doing. You can even sit down in a comfortable position.
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.
Looking for more meditations for parents? The Headspace app offers subscribers several courses and single meditations on topics related to parenting, including:
Learn to recognize impatience and let it go.
Foster feelings of compassion towards yourself and learn to judge others less harshly too.
Take a deep breath and let go of whatever is causing you to feel angry or frustrated.
By truly listening to what’s being said and taking it in, we connect a little bit more closely with whoever is speaking.
Give yourself a little space when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Learn to focus less on self-critical chatter to achieve greater harmony with others and within yourself.
Meditation for parents can benefit the entire household
Meditation is scientifically proven to help cope with stress
Meditation's not one-size-fits-all, but Headspace offers all kinds of courses and singles to help parents when they need it