Baby Meditation

How to Meditate with a Newborn Baby

5:57 am Realizing what time it is, you wake up and take your baby daughter into the living room so that her mother can get some sleep.

6:03 am You start a diaper change while trying to stay awake. Aphorisms pop into mind which you can’t resist sharing with your eight-week-old, an obvious symptom of early-onset dad humor. “Life is diaper change,” you tell her. “True diaper change comes from within.”

6:05 am She’s been quiet; this seems promising. You set her down in a swing and wait.

6:08 am Her eyes are closed and she’s sleeping soundly. You know from experience that this could end at any moment, but until it does, you have a choice: get some sleep or try to meditate.

6:10 am After mentally asking your guru whether you should meditate or sleep, you feel like you should meditate.

You would love to begin with Yogananda’Energization Exercises. You would. But you don’t think you can stand up.

6:12 am You finish praying to God and your line of gurus and lean back against the pillow on your couch. Technically, you should be sitting up straight in a chair. You know this, and you know how much the change in posture would help the energy rise in your spine, since it’s something you’ve been feeling regularly. But you do what you can manage.

6:14 am You practice the Hong-Sau Technique and use your index finger to help you concentrate. Nayaswami Gyandev mentioned it in Sunday Service the other day while you listened from home, and you can’t believe you forgot something so simple and helpful.

6:15 am Wow, you think, that technique with the index finger sure is good. How can we get it out to more people? Should we make a YouTube video? Who could do that?

Oh, right, you’re meditating. Back to the breath. Hong, sau… Hong, sau…

6:22 am You realize you forgot to chant again. You rationalize this by thinking about how in the evenings you sometimes sing “Lord, I Am Thine” while holding your daughter and walking around the house. It has no appreciable impact on her as far as you can tell, but it helps you feel connected to the divine, and a little goes a long way.

Sometimes you even try a sort of walking meditation while carrying her. It’s hard to concentrate, but watching the breath brings peace to your life no matter when you do it or for how long.

6:35 am Your daughter is wiggling, but it looks like she’s staying asleep. Amazing. This deserves to be immortalized in a blog post. You could write it as a time-stamped journal with a new entry every ten or twenty minutes. It seems like that would—

Whoops, back to meditating.

6:43 am You can’t help but open one or both of your eyes every time you hear her make a sound, so it isn’t a deep meditation, but it’s better than anything you’ve experienced recently.

6:50 am You probably should have started your Kriya Yoga practice a while ago. You’re slow to start it, even though it’s the most effective meditation technique you know. You know this, and yet you love the technique of Hong-Sau. It’s — well, if you’re being truthful, it’s just easier.

At the moment, it’s a joy to be in silence with your energy withdrawn. But you start doing your Kriya breaths, since you don’t know how long you have left in the meditation — such things are no longer up to you. Your daughter has an adorable onesie that reads, “No one sleeps till I say so.” She might as well have another one, saying, “I’ll be the one to decide how long you meditate.”

7:02 am The wiggling has increased. She’ll be crying in a minute, you think.

7:05 am Your daughter wants to be picked up. You try the easiest thing first: scoop her into your arms, lie back so she can rest on your chest, and hold her just enough to stop her from sliding off.

7:06 am If you pat her bottom, is that energizing her root chakra? Would that be a bad thing, if so? After all, every chakra plays an important part in our spiritual, emotional, and even physical development. The root chakra, when properly awakened, helps us to be steadfast and loyal. Maybe it’s only a problem if there are blocks in the flow of energy up the spine or if the energy of it is directed in attachment towards the world.

The question, though interesting, is beyond you. You decide to split the difference and put your other hand higher up on her back, and pat whatever seems to work best to calm her.

You forget about this until tomorrow morning, the next time it’s quiet enough to worry about the impact of esoteric yogic principles on a baby’s development.

7:07 am She’s fallen asleep in your arms; what great luck!

7:10 am You finish your Kriya Yoga practice and focus on the flow of energy in your spine. Occasionally, you feel the energy expand and surround this beautiful little girl. Even with all its challenges, you see that this is a blessed way to meditate, and you’re glad that you’ve kept it going, even on the days when all you can do is a few minutes.

You remember Baird Matchlocks advice to parents in the Q&A on Family, Children, and Spiritual Life session the other day,

“Without being dogmatic, we need a commitment of the heart that says, ‘Spiritual living is of the utmost importance to me. Therefore I will make a commitment with the entirety of my being to a daily meditation practice.’”

Whatever you can do, at least you’re keeping it going.

7:16 am You notice that you’re getting sleepy. Maybe it’s because someone is literally asleep on you, or maybe it’s because you’re lying back, or maybe because the heater is on and it’s warm…

8:06 am A little person is wiggling on your chest; this always has a way of waking you up.

Well, God knows, Guru knows, that you fell asleep during meditation again. You get the sense that they understand.

8:08 am That was actually the best meditation you’ve had in a while. For a moment, you feel that everything is just as it should be, and your heart expands with gratitude for this perfect life in God.

8:12 am Your daughter is moving around and complaining. By this point your bag of tricks is empty and she’s screaming in your ear. Now it’s a little harder to feel grateful.

8:13 am She’s clearly ready for baby breakfast, so you take her in to her mom, now awake and sitting on the bed, with headphones in her ears. You see from the app on her phone that she’s been meditating for 27 seconds.

Why You Should Meditate with Your Baby

When Colleen Wac hob, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of mindbogglingly, first told me she meditates with her baby, I was skeptical. How could any new mom possibly achieve any level of stillness, mindful awareness or expanded consciousness with a squirmy 6-month-old in tow? Even one that runs a massive lifestyle media brand dedicated to wellness and mindfulness?

But once I witnessed a new mama meditation in action — little Ellie sitting contentedly in Colleen’s lap, while mama disconnected and transcended for just a few short minutes — I understood why she’s become so committed to this daily wellness ritual. In the chaos of balancing baby and business (not to mention a brand new apartment), meditation with Ellie is a way to chill out and recharge, while sharing some good vibes with her baby.

It’s such a gift to be able to have 5-10 minutes of mindfulness,” she explains. “Being more present in the time I spend with Ellie is something that I work on every day, and starting the day with a quick meditation is a great reminder of this effort.”

Below, Colleen lets us in on her meditation routine, and shares how she’s bringing her passion for wellness and mindfulness into her baby’s world.

Before I gave birth to Ellie, I meditated 2 times a day for 20 minutes, using a mantra. Late in my third trimester of pregnancy, I was having trouble sleeping and would add in a sleep meditation too whenever I woke up in the middle of the night or needed some extra help to fall asleep.

I meditate with Ellie mostly in my bed after she wakes up in the morning. My 20 minute sessions have been cut down to 5-10 minutes because I’m running short on time these days!

Why is it so important to you to do it with Ellie rather than on your own?

I like holding Ellie while I meditate so that she can feel the good vibes from meditation too. I hope meditation is something that becomes naturally part of her morning routine too.

How has your general wellness routine changed since having Ellie?

I used to be able to “calendar” fitness activities — a yoga or Pilates class or a run. Now, I find ways to work fitness into my everyday life. What that means is that I go for stroller walks when I get home from work with Ellie instead of hitting up a group class. I take Ellie to the Brooklyn Pop-Up pool on the weekends and I get a workout in the water too. I take the stairs and I walk the long and scenic way to work whenever I can.

What are some of the ways you fit self-care into your day?

Besides my standing weekly acupuncture and cupping appointment at Elemental Healing Arts in Brooklyn, which is my sacred time, I think the best ways to fit self-care into your life are in small doses that can become habitual. I make a relaxing To cos and coconut butter tonic in the afternoons. I try to meditate for 5-10 minutes in the morning and afternoon. I have a rose water spray that I use liberally on my face. My dear friend Victorian has some amazing essential oils, Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll, and I love to keep them at my desk.

What’s surprised you most about having a baby?

I didn’t anticipate enjoying breastfeeding so much. I definitely started breastfeeding with a “let’s see how this goes and try to do it for three months” attitude. I started with painful feedings and now I really enjoy the time to be totally present with Ellie. I am lucky enough to live a few blocks from my office and I come home at 1 pm every day to feed Ellie. It’s the only standing appointment on my calendar.

How has motherhood changed or impacted your work, both creatively and practically?

There are so many great resources for pregnancy, but I think there’s opportunity for more coverage for mindful parents. It’s a never-ending journey, and I want mbg to be able to grow with our audience as they navigate every new phase of parenthood.

What are some of the elements you’ve brought into your home (and Ellie’s world) that encourage mindfulness?

Two weeks after Ellie was born, we moved into a new apartment. A mindbogglingly expert, Dana Claudia, flew out to Brooklyn for the weekend to help us make our home a sanctuary. We have over 30 plants in our apartment to help support air filtration. We love to bring a little bit of the outdoors into our home and Ellie’s nursery.

One of my favorite books to read to Ellie is Hello Sacred Life, a gift from mindbogglingly yoga expert, Calley Alyssa. We sometimes meditate with the Teddy Maddy too!

Mindfulness for Children

Children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness, the simple practice of bringing a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. It can help parents and caregivers, too, by promoting happiness and relieving stress. Here, we offer basic tips for children and adults of all ages, as well as several activities that develop compassion, focus, curiosity and empathy. And remember, mindfulness can be fun.

Just Breathe: The Importance of Meditation Breaks for Kids

​​​Our kids’ brains are tired, and children of all ages really need opportunities where they can take time out each day “unplugged” to relax and focus. Meditation offers this break and helps kids function more effectively and clearly.

Children today also have reportedly high stress levels. To help them take a break, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to share meditation with their children—and teachers to incorporate mindfulness training into their lesson plans.

The simple act of teaching children how to stop, focus, and just breathe could be one of the greatest gifts you give them.

Meditation Options for Children  

Meditative practices have been used since ancient times to improve health and well-being. But, just as an athlete may do different exercises, people who practice meditation often use different types.

The most common types of meditation practice are concentration, mindfulness, movement based, cultivating positive emotions, and emptying. There are specific examples and ways to practice each type. See table. ​

Why Sleep Meditation Works for Kids and How to Try It

Meditation can help young children release energy, process concerns, and find comfort at night. Try these simple steps to see if sleep meditation can make bedtime easier for your child—and family! By Kristine Jepsen February 18, 2020 Save Pin FB

Occasionally there’s mutiny in the ranks, and that’s where “sleep meditation” or “bedtime meditation” techniques sound really attractive—almost the stuff of fantasy. Designed to help kids relax and drift comfortably off to sleep, this type of meditation encourages the brain frequencies known as the “alpha state”—when you’re relaxed while awake—as in, daydreaming or nodding off but still responsive to sounds, such as a telephone ringing (or preschooler’s door opening after light’s out), before deeper phases of sleep.

But should you start a sleep meditation practice with someone in footie pajamas, and if so, how?

“The short answer is, ‘Yes!'” says Cory Cochiolo, a meditation expert, hypnotherapist, and author of the forthcoming Bedtime Meditations for Kids: Quick, Calming Exercises to Help Kids Get to Sleep. Children’s needs are no different than adults’ in many ways, she begins. “At bedtime especially, they have a fundamental need to feel safe and comfortable, to feel happy, to not be worried about anything, to feel loved. The key with any meditation practice is to try to create a warm, loving environment that they’ve participated in.”

This is sometimes easier said than done. “When my own daughters were young, I was pretty militant,” confesses Cochiolo. “I was big on routine, which kids need and love, but also on timelines and other organizing factors, like having their beds or rooms set up a certain way. What I’ve learned is that kids invest in and trust a routine most when they’ve participated in making it.”

Want to try it? Use these expert tips as a guide for setting your toddler or preschooler up for sleep meditation success:

Give your child a say in their bedtime setting. Within reason, says Cochiolo, let your child choose their bedtime companions—toys, pillows, even the color and texture of the sheets or blankets on their beds, or the colors of their walls.

Encourage kids to co-create a story-based guided meditation. “The brain loves a story, and children this age are naturally curious to follow a story to its end,” says Cochiolo. “But instead of insisting on a book, or limiting choices to printed books, ask instead, ‘Would you prefer a book? Or would you like me to make up a story?’ In other words, offer choices you’ll be happy with, but realize it’s a really big deal to give them a choice to relax into, to fall into sleep easier.”

Choose a voice your child likes hearing. Maybe it’s your voice (yay!), but maybe it’s not, explains Cochiolo. If you’re streaming a guided meditation (see a few options below), have your child help you choose. “The kids who give me feedback on my web content are really good about telling me when something sounds creepy,” says Cochiolo. “Maybe the music isn’t right for them. Or, they didn’t like the accent of the voice.” (Pro tip: Listen for opportunities to make your voice more hushed or slow down the pacing of your words. These are natural cues for the body to do the same, drifting toward sleep.)

Be persistent. Change is hard! Don’t give up if your child resists, says Cochiolo. “If it’s just not working to ease into meditation at bedtime, sit down with your child at other times and have it be something that’s fun.” One easy way to check your parent baggage is to expect each participant to focus at a rate of one minute for each year of age. “Can you practice meditation for the minutes corresponding to your age?” she challenges. Another trick is to have a guided meditation playing throughout your child’s bedtime routine so it becomes the soundtrack for comfort and safety. “Don’t make a big deal of it—just leave it playing, and they’ll get used to it.”

Practice your own gratitude. One of Chocoholic’s favorite activities (demonstrated here by story characters Heidi, Cherry, and Vaya) is the Reassurance Game. “When you’re snuggled in, take turns with your child giving heartfelt compliments.” For example, (parent to child): “I think you are so smart. You are good at asking questions.” (Child, addressing parent): “Mommy, I think you’re so loving.” The goal, says Cochiolo, is to “fill up your child’s cup of love so they can relax and fall asleep in the comfort of being understood and accepted.”

Finally, remember that meditations can (and should!) be adapted to the mood or the needs of your child, which at tender young ages, can change by the hour. “Some meditations are designed to release energy built up before bed, and some are serious,” explains Cochiolo. “Some just encourage talking about your day, and some are silly. In the end, they’re all intended to help kids feel better in their bodies and quiet their mind.” Here are a few of our favorite resources to get you started:

  • saStop, Breathe & Think (free) — With an emphasis on fun activities and meditations, this app is designed to help kids ages 5-10 with focus, quiet, peaceful sleep, and processing emotions. Your little one will learn mindful breathing and the importance of checking in with herself. She’ll also win stickers for completing “missions.”
  • Cory’s Conscious Living (free) — This YouTube channel contains 500 meditations for children, is vetted by kids, and is organized around recurring characters and themes.
  • New Horizon Meditation & Sleep Stories (free) — YouTube channel and app for children and adults full of guided meditations aimed to aid with sleep.

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