It’s common knowledge that becoming a parent is life changing. However it’s not until you actually have children that you realise just how everyday activities have been completely taken for granted: simple things like sitting down and eating a meal in silence, having a relaxing shower, visiting the toilet without an audience, or being able to meditate.
In this article I’d like to share my experience as a full time mum trying to maintain my Sadhana Practice.
I was taught Atma Kriya Yoga (AKY) back in 2008 and enjoyed 5 years of regular daily practice. Just over 5 years after being initiated into AKY my first son was born. As a new born it was relatively easy to meditate with him whilst breastfeeding; however once he became active and developed mobility it was impossible to meditate in his company: so I began to wake in the early hours of the morning, in between night breast feeds, whilst he was sound asleep to meditate. I desperately wanted to do my Sadhana but was starting to feel exhausted, so sought the advice from an AKY teacher who suggested I stop practicing for the time being. He explained that as a mother the loving relationship I have with my child, the love and devotion I give him, is a kind of Sadhana. His advice helped me let go of what I thought I should be doing.
Two years later my second son was born and needless to say time is even more scarce.
Fortunately my husband is on the same spiritual page as I am. He learnt AKY the same time I did, and he became an AKY teacher when our first son was a few months old, so he’s acutely aware of the situation.
We love our boys dearly and also feel it’s important to maintain our Spiritual Sadhana, so we work together to create the opportunity so we each have time to meditate. This time can be as little as 5 minutes and as much as an hour. The key to success here is planning and being adaptable. As the children grow and develop their needs change, so often our routine has to be adjusted to work harmoniously within our family dynamics.
When my husband goes away on business trips there really is no child free time so at bedtime I try to involve the kids in some relaxing Japa: I turn out the lights, lie down with my boys, and do Japa with them. We say the mantra out loud together a few times and then I will continue chanting internally until they are asleep. In fact Japa is a technique that I try and do throughout the day: internally chanting my mantra whilst doing my various chores. Practicing Japa this way may not be doing the quintessential image of one meditating, most people conjure up the image of one sitting down in the lotus position in silence, but doing Japa during daily tasks is just as powerful. My day is always more fulfilling when I remember to do my Japa.
The kids have always had access to wherever I am meditating or practicing yoga which at times makes a somewhat challenging practice of being poked or climbed upon, however seeing me do these practices is normal for us and as they grow older they are starting to respect the space and with time they are getting less noisy. More recently the boys will walk into the room: kiss, cuddle, and whisper “Om Namo Narayanaya” to me. Sometimes they may even sit down with me for a few minutes: during these brief moments they get to experience an element of the meditation, have an understanding that Sadhana is a major part of our life, whilst being aware that it does not conflict with their needs for love and attention.
I have found that it takes a little time and some effort to plan; then it takes discipline to stick with that plan; and finally the ability to let go of expectations and surrender to the moment should things not go to plan, as is often the case with children.
It may seem impossible to find time to meditate once you have kids, but in fact it is just a matter of changing your perception of what your meditation practice should be or how it should look, and then being willing and able to adapt to your current situation.