June 9, 2011

Ten tricks to meditating with a baby or toddler.

My daily, morning half-hour meditation is a must-do.

It’s the first priority as soon as I wake up, and whenever possible, I’ll get up and do it before my toddler is out of bed.

There are times though when he’s awake before me, and that means I meditate with him.

I’ve done this ever since he was a tiny baby – tiny enough to lie nestled on my lap, sleeping, while I meditated.

He out-grew that at about four months old, and now he’s quite happy to play around me while I do my practice.

There are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way that make the whole process smoother though, and that’s what I’m going to share with you now.

Ten tricks to meditating with a young child (or with any other relentless distraction!)

1. Establish the possibility in your mind

I know it’s possible to meditate with a young child, so I just do it. Other mothers I’ve spoken to about this have said

Oh I can’t meditate because of my child.

So true. You can’t. Not while you hold that belief. So first up, examine what beliefs you might be holding around meditating with a child. Say to yourself:

I effortlessly meditate daily with my child

And notice how it feels in your body, or what thoughts float up in your mind. Any resistance there? What kind of resistance? Can you let it go? Can you establish a new belief? Can you open to the possibility that meditating with a young child is not only possible, but joyful?

2. Start young

If at all possible, get into the routine of meditating with your child when they’re first born. God knows you need it! And then they get used to the idea that Mum or Dad sits still and quiet beside them while they play. I’m sure it’s probably harder to start meditating with a toddler who has never seen you meditate before.

3. Be open to the experience

Meditating with a child is a different experience than meditating by yourself. Accept that. Let go of any attachments you have to a completely undisturbed meditation. You will be disturbed, and that’s ok. You may not go as ‘deep’ into meditation. And that’s ok too.

Be open to the opportunities that arise because of this difference. When you meditate with your child, especially if they’re under 2 years old, you are holding space for their consciousness too. Your meditation becomes their meditation and they are experiencing stillness and presence through you.

Meditating with your child also means that you can enjoy the simple pleasure of just sitting with your child and being aware of them as tiny conscious beings. It’s a delightful gift, and can surprise you with it’s richness.

4. Let go of any expectations

My morning meditation takes about 30 minutes, although when possible, I like to sit for 45 or 60 minutes. However, sometimes this gets disturbed. Samuel might need changing or feeding right in the middle. Or sometimes he’s asleep when I start, and wakes up during so I have to fetch him and either delay the end of my meditation, or continue with him around.

Sometimes having him around makes it really hard as I feel my attention being pulled left and and around. Sometimes he won’t settle and just needs me to play with him.

Whatever arises in this meditative space, I just let it be. If I can’t finish my meditation, so be it. Getting annoyed or upset about meditation is counter-intuitive to the process.

5. Choose a meditation that allows you to sit in awareness

My meditation practice is very simple – once I’ve gone through some mantra, mudra and pranayama, I sit in awareness just watching all that is. And that includes my child.

Meditation doesn’t mean I try and block out him, or the world, it means that I am aware of everything he is doing, yet I’m not reactive. This gives me the space to be responsive when necessary – at times he’ll wander over for a hug or to climb all over me and I’ll talk to him or OM to him. Other times, he may need me to untangle him from a toy, or pick him up from a tumble. (See video below for examples).

When I’m called upon to respond, I do so, with no drama, nor resistance, nor annoyance. My response is as meditative as my sitting.

6. Set boundaries for other family members

Often we’ve also got older children, or partners to consider as well during our meditation. If at all possible, choose a time when you and your young child are the only people in the house. Choose a room that’s not used for living so if anyone does come home, they don’t disturb you.

Make sure too that you turn the sound off on all phones!

Other family members that are old enough to respond to set boundaries need to do this for you! But you have to be the one to set the boundary. Make your meditation matter!

7. Start with a child-proof room


You need to be in a room that’s self-contained, and has nothing at all that your child can’t play with.

That means no drawers that open, things they can climb on, or items they can destroy. You can’t be getting up off your mat or cushion to pull them away from things all the time.

8. Add a freshly-changed, well-feed and well-rested child

You don’t want to have to deal with any of your child’s needs while you’re meditating, so try and choose a time to meditate when all those needs have recently been met.

Early morning I’ve just changed Samuel, he’s never ready for breakfast, and he’s always well-rested. Plus he’s excited that it’s a brand new day and is usually in the best mood of the day. (See video!)

9. Add favourite toys and refreshments

A child needs something to do, so make sure you’ll got all their favourite toys handy. Sometimes it can be wise to have their drink bottle or milk bottle close by, or even a small snack like a packet of raisins.

Having the rights toys around, and options for eating or drinking means you can easily hand them something if they need it, without having to get up and dig around for something.

10. Make the practice daily and enjoy!

Every single day I meditate. And as a result, I reap huge rewards. Which keep me meditating every single day. It’s a constant upward spiral. Plus you will never, ever, ever regret meditating.

Oh damn, I so wish I hadn’t meditated today!

Never gonna happen!

So just do it.

And enjoy the process – mediating with a young child is rewarding in so many ways, and I’m really curious to see what happens in our meditation/play practice as Samuel gets older. Maybe he’ll naturally join me in mantra, mudra, pranayama and meditation as he gets older. And maybe he won’t 🙂

And for those of you who may be curious, here’s a short snippet of my daily morning meditation, with Samuel just doing his thing. Not a lot happens… but there’s a few interactions and disturbances that show you how to deal with a child and keep your bliss!

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