Why Parents Should Meditate

Meditation is good for us. The bible tells us to meditate dozens and dozens of times. Modern science has shown that meditation changes the way our brains work and provides a host of physical and mental health benefits. Everyone should learn to meditate.

While meditation is good for everyone, it is essential for parents. In fact, I think it is safe to say that if I didn’t meditate, I would be unable to parent my 5 children without the assistance of weed or booze to smooth things out. But because I meditate, I am usually an oasis of peace in the middle of chaos, even while sober.

When you meditate, you learn to tune out your senses – or at least not give them center stage. Which is really helpful when a kid spilled milk in the car without your knowing it. If you haven’t learned to meditate and tune out your senses, the smell of spoiled milk every time you get in the car might really bother you. Not so for the meditating parent.

When you meditate, you learn to quiet or take no notice of the chattering little voices in your head which insistently demand your attention. This is an essential skill for parents when several children gang up on you demanding ice cream and a pony. You just use the skills you have developed through hours of meditation and those chattering, insistent voices quickly fade away, leaving you free to contemplate what it would actually be like to have a pony in the backyard. As with meditation, when you take no notice of the chattering voices of children demanding that you give your full attention to every inanity of life, they wear themselves out and go away.

Meditation also develops your powers of concentration. Which is helpful when you’re trying to pay enough attention to what your daughter is saying so you can keep track of who is mad at whom today and what each person’s favorite My Little Pony character is. When you’re stuck in the house all day with small children, you take your gossip where you can get it, so this is very important.

The ability to tame your brain and concentrate is also helpful when you have a kid who wants to explain, in minute detail, an epic pokemon battle he saw on youtube. The control over your brain developed through meditation allows you to tune him out entirely without him noticing. You just tune in a couple times a minute to repeat the last word or two you heard – “he used thunderbolt attack, mmhm.” Then your brain is free to plan your next meal, rehash your argument with your sister or find the answer to meaning of life. A parent who doesn’t meditate has to either let their kid know that you don’t care what they are talking about or be held hostage to a long diatribe about the evolution of Celibi, the guardian of the forest.

Another benefit of meditating is that you become more aware of what’s happening in the moment. My husband responds to the various screetches, yells, wails and shouts of our children with alarm and panic. He doesn’t meditate much and therefore has a hard time tuning into the details of the present moment in a pinch. He often struggles to discern the difference between the cry of a child whose finger has just been severed and a child who is losing an argument. But as a meditating parent who is in the moment, I can discern not only between serious injury and frustration. I can tell the difference between crying caused by injury that requires medical attention, injury which requires an ice pack and an over-reaction to a scratch. This greatly reduces the amount of panic in my life. It allows me to continue what I am doing until the child who is wailing comes to tattle on someone.

Now that I have teens, I have found that being an experienced meditator is even more essential than ever. For example, part of meditating is not responding to every thought, emotion and stimulus that comes up. Instead of reacting, you just observe. Let it be what it is. Which was helpful this afternoon when my son came home with two bows in his hair. Rather than reacting, I could simply observe that his hair looks cute with bows in it. When my other son decided to forgo a shower this morning, I was able to observe that the room he was sitting in smelled like cumin and politely told him to go shower before the odor seeped into the couch cushions.

People sometimes ask me how it is that I can raise 5 kids, keep my house from being condemned by the county and write. The answer, simply is meditation. If it wasn’t for meditation, I wouldn’t be able to write many of my blog posts like this (you only think I am kidding):


Related: Just a Housewife

5 thoughts on “Why Parents Should Meditate

  1. Someone did a brain wave study way back — of yogic meditators, normies, and Zen meditators. They’d make a particular startling noise. Yogis meditating adapted to it very quickly; normies eventually tuned it out. Brain waves of the Zen people always jumped as if hearing it for the first time.

    What to conclude…? Tuning someone out is probably not your real priority; basically I expect you want to avoid being overwhelmed by the trivial stuff they’re tied up with. To hear everything while distinguishing between ‘gotta jump’ and ‘just more stuff.’

    Alan Lew picked up a trick somewhere — watching someone else’s breathing. He suggested it to a student who couldn’t understand what a certain teacher was talking about, was flunking: “Don’t try to understand him; just keep aware of his breathing.” Worked….

    1. I didn’t know that was what they found, but yes, that’s a much better description of what’s happening. I find I am able to function in the middle of chaos because I’m able to figure out quickly an automatically what actually requires my attnetion and what can be safely ignored or delayed. Often this is happening without me even noticing it. It drives my husband nuts because it looks to him like I’m not paying enough attention, but really, at any given moment when he asks, I can tell him exactly what’s going on with each child in great detail just by listening to a quick snippet of paying close attention. And the kids think I’m magic. I respond when needed, and almost always know what’s going on. Which I suppose is how mothers have always dealt with kids, back in the day when they didn’t call it meditation, but just the part of their day they called “not having anything to do”.

    2. And obviously, I’m still a padawon learner because all this brain jumping often results in me writing gibberish and typos.. I’m getting better, but I’m still working on it.

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