My wife and I recently had our first kid, a baby boy named Octavian. While I am brand new to being a parent, one thing that struck me immediately was how similar in some ways being a parent is to meditation. Both require you to stay with the moment, to simply be present with what is happening, and both require a certain balance of effort and surrender.
While I’ve had a meditation practice for a while now, I will admit that at times, it’s been hard for me to see concrete examples of how I’ve grown through that practice. I might be able to stay with my breath a little longer now than when I started, but I wasn’t sure that my life had changed much as a direct result of the practice. It ‘s sometimes easy to think of yoga as something that you do only in a controlled environment – either at the studio or in a meditation corner at home, while the rest of life continues on pretty much as normal.
As a new parent however, I’ve had to call upon my mindfulness practice repeatedly in order to be fully present for my child. A meditation practice has given me a valuable tool in beginning this new journey, and conversely, bringing mindfulness to my every day life allows me to practice yoga wherever I am.
Being a parent has reminded me of why we practice – so that when life calls on us to be present, to deal with a crying child without crying ourselves, to experience the rush of rush hour traffic without losing our sense of calm, or to be there for a friend in need, we are able to call upon our experiences and remind ourselves that ‘I know how to do this. I know how to stay with this moment and be centered even when other thoughts might be trying to draw me away from that center”