As a spiritual woman, I am drawn to meditation. I believe it is important to slow down, release the never-ending stream of thoughts running through my mind, and reconnect with inner peace and a presence greater than myself. I know from experience that meditation offers many benefits, including stress-relief, clarity, a renewal of energy, and a more positive mindset.
And yet, as a busy mother of three young children, I rarely make time to meditate. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I’m often lucky to escape to the bathroom for two minutes before chaos erupts, and so finding peace and quiet to meditate seems nearly impossible.
When I do find that magical time, I’ll admit that my minds fights stillness. Rather than finding peace and clarity, my mind anxiously sorts through my “to do” list and begins to map out what I need to do next. I often end up feeling anxious and frustrated, as though I’ve just wasted time that I “should” have been using for something else.
So while my heart might long for a regular meditation practice, my mind has pretty much decided that just isn’t a realistic goal for this period of my life. But then, I happened to watch an episode of Super Soul Sunday where Oprah interviewed Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.
In their conversation, Hanh said that he meditates in every moment. He further explained that this simply means he chooses to be awake, to be aware of and engaged in the present moment. Rather than allowing his mind to wander into the past or the future, he chooses to be fully alive in each moment.
Although Hanh also devotes a great amount of time to more traditional meditation, I was drawn to this idea of a living meditation. I began to play around a bit, exploring how I might be able to make more of my daily moments a form of living meditation. Here are a few of my discoveries thus far:
When I feel frustrated or overwhelmed, I can choose to breathe. Rather than getting caught up in my emotions, I can pause for a moment and focus on my breath. Slowly inhaling, slowly exhaling for a few breaths. I can tune into how I am feeling and what might be triggering my feelings, and then I can choose a new direction. I can create a mantra for the moment such as, “I am love” or “I choose kindness” and silently repeat this phrase as I move forward, allowing the feeling of this statement to fill me up and flow out into my interactions with others. I am learning to be aware of how I am feeling and to take responsibility for my feelings and how I choose to interact with others.
When I am folding clothes (or completing any other household chore), I can choose to count our blessings. Rather than complaining about all the things I “have to” do, I can choose to think about each member of our family and what I love most about him or her. I can think about all of the gifts we enjoy on a daily basis and give thanks for our beautiful life. I am learning to discover wonder amidst seemingly ordinary routines.
When I am driving, I can choose to look for beauty. Rather than rushing, I can slow down and enjoy the journey. Wonder is all around us, from a brilliant blue sky, to beautiful wildflowers growing along the road, to golden sunshine glittering through the trees. I am learning to notice and appreciate where I am in each moment.
When I read bedtime stories to my children, I can choose to pay attention to their giggles and enjoy their many questions. Rather than focusing my thoughts and how tired I am and how much I still want to do after they go to sleep, I can do my best to sink into their hugs, to fully experience and enjoy the feelings of their hands, hugs, and kisses, and of being snuggled up together as we share this treasured time. I am learning to slow down and to be thankful for these simple moments.
It is a practice, a moment by moment, choice by choice journey. If you’ve been exploring meditation and the traditional practice just doesn’t seem to fit your life or your needs right now, I’d like to invite you to play around weaving meditation into your daily moments. Simply choose an everyday activity and then choose to be fully present and engaged. If you notice your mind beginning to wander, simply let go of that thought and return to the present moment. Be gentle with yourself and remember that this is a journey, a moment by moment, choice by choice, adventure in becoming fully alive.
Becky Lyter McCleery is an inspired mama, writer, and teacher. She is the founder of Raising Loveliness, a gathering place for moms to come together to “bring out the best in ourselves, our children, and one another.” She invites you to join her in her mission to cultivate a more compassionate world.