My 9 year-old daughter and I are both huge fan of Sara Bareilles (singer-songwriter, actress, creator of the Broadway musical Waitress). We were excited to see her as a guest on a podcast we listen to called Ten Percent Happier. It was a great listen and I encourage you to listen even if you don’t struggle with anxiety and/or depression. As a social worker, I am always thrilled to see people in the limelight share about mental health struggles and solutions. As you know if you have been following me for longer than a minute, I frequently remind everyone that the first and important part of being a peaceful parent (or peaceful human) is self-regulation. There’s absolutely no better tool to improve your self-regulation than meditation.
On the podcast, Sara Bareilles shared about the beginning of her meditation practice and how it has evolved over time. The podcast’s host, Dan Harris, reminded the listeners that there is no wrong way to meditate and some meditation is better than no meditation. It took us a few car trips around town to finish the episode but both my daughter and I had lots of take-aways. At the end, they announced that a 10-day anxiety meditation challenge would be starting the following week. My daughter asked if we could sign up and do it together.
You can just imagine how this parenting coach’s heart soared. My daughter has been practicing meditation her whole life – sometimes begrudgingly if suggested by me, joyfully as a part of every school day since kindergarten, and cooperatively as a part of her bedtime routine. She’s also found some apps she enjoys (shout out to Stop, Think, & Breathe Kids – an amazing app) and is now able to take a meditation break on her own after years of me and my husband modeling it.
So here we were – all signed up for this ten-day challenge. Ready to meditate – mother and daughter. Peaceful Parenting Coach and child. What a great example we are. Everything we’ve done up this point is paying off. In the long game of parenting – we win!
We laid down (my preferred posture for extended meditation) and watched the introduction which was a wonderful psychoeducational video on anxiety. Then a ten-minute guided meditation. We took a deep breath and settled in.
To be clear, I settled in. My daughter did not. She didn’t stop moving the entire time.
I felt so agitated. Every move she made rustled the blanket we were laying on.
I told myself, “Breathe. Remember sound is grounding to the present moment.”
I told myself, “She is 9. Ten minutes is a long time for most adults to lay still.”
I told myself, “It took you YEARS to get to ten minutes. Cool your jets, Lisa.”
I told myself, “Focus on yourself.”
But the agitation didn’t go away. The meditation ended and I felt worse.
She turned to me and said, “Wow, Mama. That was really great. I feel good.”
I had to laugh. At the situation, at myself, but mostly at my thoughts. I teach parents five days a week in coaching sessions that there is no wrong way to meditate, any meditation is better than none, it’s okay if you can’t sit still, it’s normal if your mental chatter persists. But in that moment, where my ego and my unreasonable expectations were involved, I forgot all of that and settled into agitation.
I was reminded of a great quote I love: “Don’t take reality personally. It just is.”
We are still meditating every day. She still can’t stop moving. But today, just for today, I’m not feeling agitated anymore.