One of the recurring themes of my Fall and Winter was mothers under pressure. Full-time moms with almost zero home help; business-owning mothers juggling kids, entrepreneurship, and mortgage payments; writer mothers whose minds are pulled in one direction by massive deadlines—and whose hearts are pulled in the other by the needs of their young.
How do we support mothers better in our society? It's a question I think and talk about frequently. The urgent priority: Insert deeply functional rest into the equation of the day. Meditation isn't just about taking a "time out." It is more of a "time in." It allows for a profound de-excitation of body and mind; a return to the still point within, the place where energy comes from and where healing, reorganizing, and rebalancing takes place.
This would all sound like some kind of twee Oprah magazine article, if it weren't for the reality check. Moms, especially those with young kids, have more of a challenge in meditating daily. They don't get the luxury of full twenty-minute sittings. They take what they can. With a baby at their breast. Their kids interrupt. They rise before five a.m. to get their practice done. They pull over their car on noticing the little ones have fallen asleep, and hope to get their full practice in.
I'm not saying fathers don't do this also. Maybe it's because I'm a woman—other women share their stories with me more. But what strikes me deeply are the validations my mothers-who-meditate have been sending about the benefits of their practice during some unsettled months. "It is literally the thing saving me right now." "My four year old said, 'Mom, you didn't shout at me today—it's because you meditated!" and I nearly cried." "There's been a shift in the family; my husband's stress has gone down. He's even started doing yoga on his own." Even with imperfect practice, these mothers have self-engineered a more stable life experience.
One of my favorite things about meditating mothers is witnessing what gets set up in utero. This weekend I ran into a meditator whose three-month old, Sebastian, was bundled against her chest. Lucky boy: Forty weeks of sharing a meditating mother's body chemistry had created a bliss baby, who'd been sleeping through the night since his first days and whose presence was saturated with wise-eyed calm.