You probably already know that there are big benefits of meditation for parents. However, while you are juggling your job with your parental responsibilities, you might wonder how you can find time to meditate.
Given the health benefits of meditation, it is definitely a good idea for parents to meditate. When you meditate you relax your mind, become less reactive, boost your mood, and reduce stress. And don’t worry, I will help you to find ways to meditate without it interfering with your schedule.
You can meditate with your kids if you would like. Or you can use your twenty-minute meditation sessions for some quiet alone time. If you meditate with the kids, they will also benefit from it. And if you meditate alone, you will find it supremely relaxing for yourself.
Either way, it is worth meditating properly, instead of using an app. Research [Harvard Medical School 2019] shows that mindfulness apps are not as effective as traditional meditation with a private teacher. And because your time is short, you want to get the most out of every session. Therefore, make sure you meditate properly, instead of using an app.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to meditate as a parent. And you might also like to read my guide to teaching kids mindfulness.
Benefits of Meditation for Parents
With meditation, parents can undo a lot of the stress and anxiety of parenting. We all know what it’s like. Sometimes our kids can drive us nuts even though we love them so much. Kids can cause us stress and anxiety, especially if they happen to misbehave. You try to be patient and to stay calm no matter what, but sometimes you could use a little help. That’s where meditation comes in.
There are many health benefits of meditation for parents:
With mindfulness, parents become more resilient
Research by William R. Marchand of the George E. Wahlen Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Utah shows that parents who practice mindfulness meditation become more resilient in body, mind, and spirit. Basically, this means we react to events more calmly, instead of becoming stressed, anxious, or depressed.
Specifically, the research recommends three types of meditation for resiliency:
- Zen meditation: A traditional Buddhist meditation, technically called Zazen. This involves sitting down in front of a wall and meditating on the breath.
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction: a method created by Jon Kabat Zinn that involved meditating on sensations in the body.
- Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: A method in which we meditate and then challenge negative thoughts as they occur.
Less Stress, More Relaxation
As parents, we need to make sure we don’t succumb to stress. When we are stressed, we are more likely to make mistakes in our parenting, such as by getting angry and yelling. Our best defence against this is relaxation. And meditation can help.
Indeed, one of the best benefits of meditation for parents is that it helps us to relax and unwind. Research published by the American Psychological Association shows that meditation reduces the activity of the amygdala, reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, and balances cortisol. Meanwhile, it promotes the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system and boosts feel-good neurochemicals like serotonin. All of this means that with meditation, parents can stay calm and relaxed.
We all want to be good parents, and one of the best ways to be a better parent is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness comes in two forms. There is State Mindfulness, which is the actual practice of mindfulness meditation. And there is Trait Mindfulness, which is the quality of being aware and nonjudgmental. Both these forms of mindfulness help parents.
When you are more mindful you are aware of your thoughts and feelings and of the actions that you take. This increased self-awareness is crucial for parents. Why? Because the best way to encourage good behavioural and good mental health is to model it yourself. You want to be calm and in control yourself so your kids will pick up on that behaviour. And mindfulness will help with this.
Research published in the journal Social Cognitive And Affective Neuroscience shows that traditional meditation taught through a proper teacher increases executive functioning. In other words, it makes you more self-aware and more in control. Precisely the traits you want to model for your kids.
Best Meditation for Parents [Script]
The following is one of my favourite meditation scripts for parents. Of course, I do also keep some methods secret and only teach them in my private lessons.
- This one is based on Loving kindness [Buddhist Metta]. It is a favourite technique used by the likes of Sharon Salzberg and Pema Chodron. You will find this very relaxing and uplifting.
- Sit comfortably with good posture. Check that your spine is straight but with a natural curve at the bottom. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Gently lower your neck to elongate your spine.
- Close your eyes and focus on breathing. Watch as your breath moves through your nostrils, down through your throat, into your diaphragm. You might like to place one hand on your diaphragm so you can feel your breath moving there. Take twenty mindful breaths.
- If at any time during this meditation you experience unwanted thoughts or emotions, simply observe them calmly and label them. For instance, tell yourself, “This is just a thought” or “This is just an emotion”. This is a technique used in Buddhist Vipassana meditation. It will make you less reactive to thoughts and feelings.
- See a picture of yourself in your mind’s eye. Imagine seeing yourself smiling. Now speak the Loving Kindness Meditation words, “May I have love and kindness. May I be supported and loved. And may I have the strength to overcome any obstacles in my life.”
- Now see a picture of your significant other (whether or not you are still together). See them smiling. Repeat the words, “May [name of person] have love and kindness. May [they] be supported and loved. And may [they] have the strength to overcome any obstacles in their life.” Now imagine this person saying the same words back to you.
- Now see a picture of your child (if you have more than one you can start with whomever you choose). See them happy. Repeat the script again. ““May [name of person] have love and kindness. May [they] be supported and loved. And may [they] have the strength to overcome any obstacles in their life.” Now imagine this person saying the same words back to you.”
- Continue for each member of your family.
With this meditation, parents will feel supported, loved, and happy. It cultivates the type of feelings you want in your family.
More Meditations for Parents
Above I shared my best meditation for parents, but there are other options. You might also like to try the following methods:
Tonglen: Buddhist meditation in which we visualize inhaling someone’s suffering and exhaling peace and love. This will help you to produce positive and loving feelings for the family. Read my guide to Tonglen meditation for Beginners.
Anapansati: Method advocated by Thich Nhat Hanh [founder of the Plum Village Tradition]. This is an easy meditation in which we meditate on the breath.
Body Scan: Body Scan meditation is part of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program created by Jon Kabat Zinn [Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School]. In this method, we gradually move our awareness around the body while asking the body to relax. Research shows that this method is excellent for relaxation and stress reduction.
Mindfulness activities: If you don’t have time for traditional meditation, read my guide to Mindfulness Activities For Adults And Kids.
There are so many wonderful benefits of meditation for parents. Sadly, many parents only use guided meditation apps. I understand that. Apps like Headspace and Calm are easy to use and quick. Unfortunately, the research shows that they are nowhere near as effective as traditional meditation taught by a professional instructor such as me.
If you would like to get the best out of meditation, book an online lesson with me today.