Written by Sam Wysock-Wright, Vedic meditation teacher
Becoming a parent is an exciting, yet nerve-wracking experience. You no longer have just yourself to think about, but a little one too. Quite quickly your life becomes all-consumed by this new little person you’ve brought into the world and you may find that with all that comes with a young baby/children, your own needs end up being neglected.
With all the pleasures that bringing up a young family brings, inevitably there will be times when it can be extremely stressful, demanding and exhausting. Managing their time and yours, trying to meet all their needs, loving and caring for them, coping with sleep deprivation, behavioural issues/sibling rivalry and inevitably the constant demands of being a parent is an incredible role to master in itself.
It is becoming increasingly evident that the world we now live in almost accepts feelings of exhaustion, being overwhelmed, struggling to cope and generally feeling stressed out, as something relatively normal. But it is not and no longer needs to continue! It is totally possible to experience life and manage family life from a much calmer, rational and relaxed state of consciousness, where clarity and vitality become a normal way of life.
Vedic meditation can help to promote all the positive things I’ve mentioned above, whilst also helping to reduce all those negative feelings we are now led to believe are just a normal part of daily life.
Vedic meditation is recognised as the most successful and easiest form of meditation to learn and practice, with benefits such as clarity of mind, increased creativity, adaptability to stress along with greater vitality and wellbeing, all of which are considered the norm. Not only does learning the technique benefit you as a parent, but it also has a knock-on effect for the rest of the family. As we know, children are very sensitive, especially in the early years and they’ll pick up on how their parents are feeling, even if they don’t realise it. The number one reason why meditation is considered as so important today is because the world around us has evolved so quickly, yet we as human beings haven’t and are unable to keep up. Meditation is the tool we use to bridge that gap.
I know what you may be thinking, how on earth would I be able to fit this into my daily routine? Just bear with me.
Here are the top 5 reasons why we think every parent should consider the benefits of learning Vedic Meditation:
1. The ultimate power nap
As a parent of young babies and children, sleep deprivation is almost a given.
Practising Vedic meditation can really help to claw back some of the ‘sleep debt’ you so desperately need and owe yourself. By ‘sleep debt’ I mean our bodies require a certain amount of sleep and eventually we will need to pay it back, and meditation is a great tool to start the repayment process. In this technique we have access to a deep metabolic rate of rest, around 3-5 times deeper than the deepest stage of sleep. Not only will you feel more refreshed and energised afterwards, it actually helps to lengthen your deep sleep cycles at night and increases sleep efficiency.
2. Consider whether you can do that school run on an empty tank
As a parent, it is natural to start giving away much more of yourself in order to nurture and meet the needs of your child/children, and believing that there will be an unlimited amount of ‘you’ to give, until you reach the point of exhaustion and realise that your physical and emotional tank is on empty, or very close to it. The role of parenting is of course very demanding, our lives become even busier and learning to redefine the fine art of multi-tasking is another challenge – children, family, friends, relationships, home/work, school, study, exercise, travel, technology, balancing lifestyle, finances… the list goes on.
It is interesting to note that we generally become pretty good at ‘being’ stressed and living on a half-empty tank or less. However what this level of coping usually indicates is that we are actually experiencing chronic states of stress which becomes increasingly debilitating for both our physical and mental wellbeing. For example, experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed, not coping, chronic illnesses, having scattered thoughts, bouts of anxiety and/or fear of failure. Sadly all this has become the norm, something we are just meant to manage. It’s crept up on most of us, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The analogy of placing the oxygen mask on yourself before helping your child/others rings very true. Once you address your own needs, you can bring your best self to the aid of others; this is one of the main focuses of the meditation I teach; we start to become our best self.
3. It’s deceptively simple and easy to do
The Vedic form of meditation is a process taught by a qualified Vedic teacher and is something that will remain with you as a life-long tool. The easiness and simplicity of Vedic meditation over other meditation techniques is what sets it apart. It’s a self-sufficient technique that you can take with you and do anywhere. We sit comfortably in a chair, in bed, on a sofa, a car (if you’re not driving!), or on the floor with our back supported. It’s really important to be as comfortable as you can be. We then close our eyes and we don’t have to worry or be concerned or affected about any external noise, which must be a welcomed surprise for those noisy households. All that is then required is to close your eyes and gently think of the personal mantra (sound) that your teacher has given you and off you go, it really is as simple as that.
We are not trying to do anything else, we simply let go and take the meditation as it comes. We are not even trying to push thoughts out! We just let them flow in and out and the mantra does all the work for us. I really believe beyond any doubt that this process of meditation is the perfect technique for busy people, particularly for parents of young children.
4. It will bring you back into balance, helping you to become calmer, less reactive, happier and more present for yourself and your family.
Meditation helps to produce the ‘natural bliss’ chemistry in the body, (anandamide, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine) and reduces the stress chemistry in the body (adrenaline, cortisol and lactic acid). As a result the blissful, calm feeling stays with you after meditating, which naturally makes a powerful and positive difference as to how you then interact with the world around you. You will find that this calming and peaceful effect then naturally impacts on how we interact with our loved ones with really noticeable, positive results.
It is understood that meditation can also be helpful for those affected by postpartum depression (although we would recommend that you discuss this with your doctor or health professional first). In addition, if you choose to breast feed your baby, there is evidence that meditation can help in bringing on the production of breast milk.
5. You’ll wonder how you managed without it, productivity will reach new heights
You probably won’t be too surprised to hear that one of the most common concerns I hear from people when discussing meditation is: “But I just don’t think that I have enough time in my day to meditate”. To me, as a Vedic teacher, what I’m really hearing is that you don’t have enough time to ‘look after yourself’. The early stage of learning this process is working out the best times for you to meditate in your day and once you get into a regular practice, you’ll very quickly become aware of how much more productive you’ve become. Your mental clarity will improve and there will be less scrolling on Instagram or Facebook. The time spent on those apps could easily be replaced with meditation and still leave time for a little browse. The reduction of stress will bring greater clarity to your life, you’ll start to prioritise more efficiently and filter out the clutter and unnecessary noise, leading to increased productivity.
Below are some examples of places where both myself and my students have effectively meditated:
- Sitting in bed with a child/baby draped across the lap
- In a parked car before school pick-up, meetings, events
- In a parked car with kids asleep in the back seat
- On public transport, taxis or planes
- On the sofa after putting the kids to bed but BEFORE doing the dishes, lunches, tidy up etc
- On the sofa after putting the kids to sleep but BEFORE scrolling on Instagram
- On the sofa with kids safely playing on the floor or in a next door room
- While breastfeeding
- At a desk during a break
- A coffee shop
- On a park bench
- In bed before the kids wake up
- In a car while the partner is driving and children are in the back seat
- Next to the cot/bed while waiting for baby/child to fall asleep.