Meditation and Motherhood

Claire Robbie Meditation Teacher and Yogi

When I fell pregnant with my first son Jack, I had been living in Los Angeles for almost six years. I’d missed the pregnancies and births of most of my close friend’s children, and growing up I hadn’t had much to do with pregnancies or babies, especially not the postnatal stage of this momentous experience.

So when I did have my first son, I was shocked at the intensity of the experience. My pregnancy went very well, I was healthy and active the whole way through. I even ran a meditation and yoga retreat in Queenstown, complete with hikes and other QT-type adventures only 3 weeks before I gave birth. Pregnancy was such a breeze, it set me up to believe that the rest (birth, breastfeeding and the postpartum period) would also be a walk in the park.

I quickly realised it was not a walk in the park, but more of a stumble, fall and crawl around in the dark. I was utterly blown away by what motherhood required, and the reality of now being responsible for the survival of a small human being. I had zero idea of how much my life would actually change. Compounded by the fact that I had to travel for work for almost a year to over 20 countries when Jack was six months old. But, however gnarly the first couple of years of new motherhood were for me, I am forever grateful that I started motherhood with some of the practices that I have continued to evolve and deepen over the years – yoga and meditation.

My journey with yoga and meditation
Having spent my twenties relatively little self-awareness, jumping from different hedonistic pursuits and unhealthy coping mechanisms, when I hit thirty I was in a messy, scary and confused place. To cut a long story short, if I hadn’t found yoga and meditation I’m not sure I would still be alive. These ancient practices activated the beginning of me becoming more aware of my inner world, my conditioning, and gave me tangible ways to understand and then let go of many of my self-sabotaging beliefs, behaviours and emotional evasion tactics. To this day, this is still a beautiful and daily work in progress.

Yoga and meditation are introspective practices. They require us to make friends with our inner world – many of us aren’t even aware there is an internal landscape of thoughts and feelings and it governs our lives. As Carl Jung famously quoted: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

Meditation & parenting
I believe that the very best thing we can do as parents for our children is work on our own “stuff” so that we don’t pass it on to them, or take our unconscious projections and emotions out onto them. Which leads me to some of the ways these inner work modalities help us in one of the most important roles we might find ourselves in – raising children.

  1. We become more self-aware. We learn in meditation that we have a constant internal communication happening between sensation and thought. When we sit and pay attention to ourselves daily we start to see the patterns of thought, of beliefs and perception. We start to learn more about ourselves and our reactions and responses to life.
  2. We can “hold” our own emotions more effectively. This trickles down from the point above. As we cultivate more of a capacity for awareness around our inner world, we also become better at processing and being with our own emotions. A meditation practice will teach us to self-regulate.
  3. We parent differently. The combination of self-awareness and being able to self-regulate means our children or the circumstances that come with parenting mean we have the capacity to respond differently – i.e from a place of presence rather than unconscious reaction. We also start to see where we might be parenting from a conditioned or learned place, and make a choice to evolve.
  4. We can attune to our children more effectively. Being able to see, hear and love our children without expectation and in more of an unconditional way is the foundation of a healthy parent-child attachment bond. Our self- awareness, capacity to emotionally regulate and parent according to the different needs of different children will have deep and lasting effects on that child’s beliefs and perceptions about themselves and their place in the world.

Another powerful quote from Jung is “the greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.” This beautifully articulates what I think is something that we all need to be aware of as parents and that’s unconsciously passing down the “stuff” from our own childhoods that we carry, stuff that is limiting, unhelpful and in some cases even dangerous.

Instead, when a parent chooses to take responsibility for integrating their own “stuff” the positive effects it has on their children are endless. To be raised by more conscious and emotionally aware parents, is quite literally a game-changer for humanity. Meditation is a backdrop for this work.

Having had my second child, nine years after my first I can also attest to the fact that the additional years of inner work and meditation have continued to support me in my evolution as a parent. The eldest child is always the “training wheels” in a sense for us parents, but I also know that acknowledging when we are wrong is a huge deal for our kids, and also teaches humility. No parent is perfect, as no human is perfect, and if we role model the mantra that mistakes happen, but we can always learn and grow from them if we choose to.

I’d be lost without my practice on a personal level, but also one of the main reasons I keep practising is for my children. They can be the most incredible guiding light for us as we often are able to very clearly see right from wrong, good from bad if we see how it will affect them as our compass point.

 

To learn more about the School of Modern Meditation check out SOMM or follow on Instagram wearesomm_

 

Family Health Diary members get free access to Claire’s online meditation library.

SOMM Meditation Library – Use the code FHDMED

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