If you’re a toddler mom & you’re anything like me, you’re someone who once spent long blocks each week in meditation—or at a minimum had free time (& freedom of choice) to try new things at will. But now you don’t.
Your life looks nothing like the days of old, pre-kids. And that’s okay … especially as long as it’s temporary, which everyone keeps telling you it is. You believe them. (Hey, they look like they’ve showered today & there aren’t other, smaller people’s food stains on their clothing, so they must be doing something differently than you!) But in the meantime, you still pine for those little glimpses of the old days.
I’m here to tell you, you can have those glimpses—maybe just glimpses, alas, but still—& there is a meditation that you, yes even you, can do today.
Trust me. I did it today, myself, & I actually felt like I meditated.
Did I reach Nirvana? No. But not every meditation is meant to bring us there. Heck, Yogic meditation never strives for Nirvana. So, why worry? Just pick something realistic you can do now.
That meditation is The Bell Meditation.
I don’t recall exactly where I first learned of The Bell Meditation (Jon Kabat-Zinn[https://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/about-us/people/2-meet-our-faculty/kabat-zinn-profile/], maybe?), but I know I first used it at night. You see, bedtime meditation often put me to sleep. Sometimes, that was actually the point of the exercise, but I went through a phase where I really wanted to reach a truly mindful state before going to bed to help me set my intentions for the next day.
The concept includes 3 very simple parts: 1) Assuming a meditative position & focusing on your breath; 2) Going deep within to breathe in a fully meditative way, then also noticing how your body feels physically & any emotions or thoughts you have with a form of objectivity; 3) Broadening your awareness to include not only your own experience but that of your atmosphere—for instance, what sounds you hear or smells you note. I call it The Bell Meditation, but I admit it’s really more of an hourglass shape, narrowing your focus internally before bringing it out again in full.
For more than a year now, I have been a firm believer that the days of meditation were definitively on hold for me. Hence, my 60 Days of Mini-Mindfulness Journey as an effort to put a little peace in my life, moment to moment. But as I become more mindful, I’m starting to feel brave enough to venture out to that old territory of actual meditation. The Bell Meditation, with its simplistic template & clearly defined start point & end point seemed perfect. And so today, I stole one moment to myself when I thought no one in my family was really paying attention—wouldn’t really miss my presence’s absence—& I honest-to-God meditated.
Here’s how it went down.
We were sitting in the minivan, my two little ones & I, waiting for my husband to feed our cats & lock up the house before we headed out for an extended family get-together. I was touching up my make-up in the car’s visor mirror when it hit me: This is the time!
I closed the visor, capped my lipstick & put it away in my bag, then put my hands in my lap & closed my eyes. I took an in-breath & simply concentrated on my breathing. I breathed normally for a few breaths, then slowly began to elongate those deep pulls in & long exhalations …. I went within. For me, this involves an automatic, almost reflexive eye roll up to my third eye. In other words, I ‘look’ upward at the spot between my 2 eyebrows. I also breathe even more deeply & focus on the images behind my eyelids, whatever those may be. Today, I sort of glossed over this inward curve of the hourglass or bell & simply focused on my breathing, but forgot about what I was feeling & thinking—although I did briefly notice myself noticing that I had thoughts. I quickly went on to the third & final section of the meditation, total awareness. I felt a peace wash over me. Not only was it a peace borne of meditative practice, but it was also a relief at being able to include my 2 kids in this meditation. I had permission to focus on their sounds & energy, instead of working to block them out or detach from them. And amazingly, I did detach. I felt myself smiling softly as I also shifted comfortably, almost automatically to find an even more fully relaxed position in my car’s driver’s seat.
I’m not sure how long my mediation lasted—perhaps 2 minutes, possibly 5. It wasn’t long. But it was. And it has made me believe that even I, toddler-&-baby mommy that I am, can meditate.
Day 10 Mini-Mindfulness Tool: The Bell Meditation. Read more about its more evolved cousin, The 3-Minute Breathing Space[http://franticworld.com/the-three-minute-breathing-space-meditation-is-now-free-to-download/]—now used in a newer type of therapy known as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.