Imagine: Why parents need meditation or the art of stillness, in a chaotic life
If there is a niggling voice saying to you right now, “All this is rubbish! I can barely go through the day and she is asking me to become a Buddha”, listen to that voice, smile and then let it go.
“In an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”
You know those annoying people who cannot stop talking about meditation and how it can transform the way we live and relate to the world? Well, I am one of them. Unapologetically so and yes, my friends, colleagues and family start rolling their eyes every time I start this evangelical spiel or look around furtively for the nearest exit.
I know many of you parents with little kids might be throwing up your hands in the air with, “Where’s the time?” Trust me, one thing parents need in their chaotic life is some time for themselves when they can just be still, even if it is for five minutes. If you have not done this before, you might dismiss it with “Not my cup of tea!” Fair enough, but let’s take this analogy one step further as in this day and age when there is this mind-boggling range of tea available for each person’s palate, whim and fancy, there is nothing like, “Not my cup of tea.” Similarly, there is no one-size-fits-all in meditation and let’s see what will work for you.
Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and just focus on your breathing. There is no need to make it deep and slow, just breathe naturally, and in time you will notice that it will slow down. You could focus on the rise and fall of your abdomen, the rush of air in your throat or the tickling feeling in your nostrils. To give yourself an anchor, you could count your breaths from one to hundred. Be mindful of any thoughts that come up and stay curious but do not engage with them.
One thing that helps me meditate is what Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, calls ‘feeling your body from inside-out’. Focus on your right foot, even with your eyes closed. Can you feel the sensation inside it? Disengage from every other part of the body and feel that sensation. Slowly scan the rest of your body, one part at a time from the inside out. Just become aware of the sensations — heaviness, tingling, pinching, burning or cold sensation. As you breathe in and out, lose the shape of your body and see all the sensations as a cloud. Let your rhythmic breath loosen the tightness around these sensations so that the heavy cloud feels lighter and makes you feel as if you are floating.
Metta or Buddhist loving-kindness meditation
This is one of my favourite forms of meditation and I do it almost every day. In this, while meditating, we practice self-compassion; only when we are compassionate towards ourselves can we be compassionate towards others:
Self: As you breathe gently, infuse your body with loving kindness. Allow warm feelings of love and acceptance to flow through your body, open your heart and feel the compassion at a cellular level with “May I be happy, may I be safe, may I be healthy and may I live in peace”. (You can say anything that directs warmth and acceptance to your own self.)
Loved ones: Now, visualise one or more people you are close to, whose presence gives you a sense of joy. Open your heart and direct the same messages to them.
Neutral person: Now, bring into your awareness somebody for whom you have neutral feelings and send loving kindness to that person.