When I first started my yoga journey in college, meditation was the hardest part of my practice. Sitting still and clearing my thoughts seemed impossible. I felt fidgety, uncomfortable, and my mind wouldn’t stop racing. Honestly, I thought there was something wrong with me! I’ve struggled with ADHD my entire life, so I assumed that meditation maybe something I would never fully grasp.
What I thought meditation was…
Sit completely still with perfect posture
Ignore the world around you
Eliminate all your thoughts
Escape the outside world
During and after your practice, you should feel blissful and relaxed with no cares or worries
Easy, right? Ha!
As I continued to practice and study meditation, I found that my personal roadblocks were just myths. What I had believed about meditation, in fact, was the opposite of what it actually is.
Meditation benefits all aspects of your life:
Lowers blood pressure
Eases symptoms of depression
Meditation helps clear a path to navigate life
Reduces and improve reactions to stress
Allows you to focus on the present moment
Decreases attachment on negative emotions
Expands imagination and creativity
Elevates your patience and tolerance
It wasn’t until after I got married and had kids, did I fully understand the importance of teaching others how to cope with all that life throws your way. Yoga and meditation was the one consistent and reliable coping skill I had that allowed me to live a more joyful life. Knowing the positive impact meditation had on me, it was only logical that I introduce it to my family.
Practicing meditation with your family creates profound connections. When you practice meditation with others, oftentimes you’re able to settle in deeper; knowing that others are in the practice with you.
Integrate meditation into your families’ everyday routine and reset your “busy” mind.
Here are my top suggestions and encouragements as you get started ...
Start Small to Stay Consistent
Begin with 2 minutes and work up from there. Whether you are meditating for 2 minutes or 2 hours, you are still meditating.
It’s so easy to put off what we need the most in our lives, so I recommend setting reminders on your phone or alarms to keep you on track. If you would schedule a doctor's appointment or a playdate in your phone so that you won't forget... you should also be scheduling your mindfulness breaks. And remember, to start, it's just 2 minutes!
Model behavior you want your household to embrace
It’s ok if your little yogis wander away - just keep going.
Kids learn by observing those around them. So if they notice that you won't be easily pulled away from your mindfulness routine, they will also settle in (eventually - so don't give up!) Most often, kids aren’t fully listening to what you say, but rather observing how you react and respond.
Of course the moment you sit down to meditate little ones notice the shift and naturally want to pull at you to reclaim that attention. And sometimes our response, especially when we have dedicated time for our mindfulness practice, may be a loving but direct reminder that this is time for meditation. They are welcome to join you but, otherwise, will have to wait until you're done.
So, how do you start a meditation practice your family?
Don’t get stuck on how – just do!
Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted ... much ;)
I also highly recommend you practice in seated, but if it is too uncomfortable lying down on the floor (not your bed - it's not nap time. That said, if you need a nap, go take a nap!).
If you sit in a chair, it’s preferable to have your spine straight and supported by the back of the chair If you lie down, do so with your back flat, and legs straight.
Turn Off Your phone... Turn On Observation
You have made this time for yourself. So give yourself permission to devote the time as you intended. Does the thought of turning off your notifications and ringtones bubble up? That can be a great place to start!
Notice what is going on in your body. Start out by doing a simple check in of your emotions, thoughts, and how your physically feeling. Allow space to explore the sensations or images you choose to focus on, and notice what happens physically, emotionally and mentally.
Acknowledge your emotions and thoughts. We can't banish our thoughts or they will keep knocking on the door. Instead we acknowledge and redirect. If your thoughts are racing, obsessive or intrusive, draw your attention on your physical body and your breath.
What We Mean by "Focus on Breath"
During meditation, your breath is the anchor for your wandering mind. Deep, diaphragmatic, rhythmic breathing with even inhales and exhales will allow your physical body to settle into stillness, and will lessen anxiety. If your mind wanders, notice that it wandered and invite yourself to come back to the breath with even more intention. You might find it successful to count the beats of your inhalations and exhalations
Personally, I love to imagine my breath like an ocean wave lapping on the shoreline. The visual imagery keeps my mind occupied and engaged with the task at hand.
After you meditate, spend a few minutes reflecting on how you feel. You don’t need to write a novel, just take the time you need to write 2-3 sentences about your experience.
Don't shy away from writing the real experience - especially if it wasn't how you expected.
And, because it can't be said enough, consistency is key.
The more you practice, the more effective your relaxation becomes. Avoid growing impatient if you don’t achieve your given goal. And if you do feel impatient, or you quickly want to throw in the towel - even those feelings are great places to start! Meditation doesn't work because it erases the uncomfortable feelings (defeat, self-sabotage, doubt, worry... those are human feelings!).
Meditation works because it trains us to become more tolerant of what we uncover, and relax around it instead of becoming defensive or avoidant. The key is to just keep coming back.
About Adrienne Smith...
Adrienne started practicing yoga when she was working in the corporate world. She traveled constantly and always looked for ways to keep healthy and active while on the road. After completing her RYT-200 Power Yoga Teacher Training she was hooked! She completed her RCYT-95 as well as her RYT-500 Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. A mother of two girls, Adrienne has dedicated her time to deepening her practice and connecting with her students (especially families & kids!) on ways to allow their yoga experience to ripple into all aspects of their lives. Throughout Adrienne’s trainings, her passion has led her to co-found FamilyFlow Yoga®️.