From conception to college, there isn’t a stage of the parenting journey that doesn’t come with some amount of stress. If the tried-and-true methods for dealing with it — whiskey, some exercise, moving to another country and changing your name — aren’t working, you might want to consider meditation.
Andy Puddicombe knows that you might dismiss the suggestion as something for Buddhists or stoned college kids or stoned college kids who think they’re Buddhists. That’s why he created Headspace, an app that translates the core principles of meditation into a series of accessible exercises, stripped of any New Age connotations. In the past few years, researchers have found evidence that meditation can help with everything from increased emotional capacity to productivity but if you’re still skeptical, consider Puddicombe’s pedigree: He spent 10 years training as a buddhist monk in Nepal and Tibet before returning to his native England and going to clown college. You read that right.
In addition to being the most affable and persuasive advocate for meditation in daily life that you’re likely to come across, Puddicombe is also a new father — an experience that proved to him the ideas behind Headspace are probably more useful for parents than anyone else. You can read all about it his new book, The Headspace Guide To A Mindful Pregnancy, but here are a few quick tips to get you started on the road to a (slightly) less chaotic parenting experience.
1. Carve Out 10 Minutes A Day
“It’s not an hour. You don’t have to sit cross-legged, there’s no incense or any of the hippy stereotype stuff that scares people off,” says Puddicombe. He recommends 10 minutes a day, in the morning if you can swing it, and all you need is a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Granted, that’s no small thing for a parent, but one of the great things about stripping all the New Age pretension from meditation is that no one can judge you if you do it on the can.
2. Don’t Worry About Clearing Your Mind
One of the most common misconceptions about meditation is that you have stop thinking, which can be discouraging for novices because it’s basically impossible. But Puddicombe’s technique isn’t about stopping thought; it’s about stepping back and “watching” it. “When I started, I trained in a traditional type and there was more emphasis on quieting the mind,” he explains, “it was a nightmare. Then I started in a Tibetan school where they embrace everything. It’s not about separating from your life; whatever is happening to you, you bring that into your meditation.”
One of the great things about stripping all the New Age pretension from meditation is that no one can judge you if you do it on the can.
3. Turn All That Noise Into A Practice
Puddicombe describes his technique as sitting on the side of the road, watching cars pass – on the cars are thoughts and emotions. The goal is get comfortable seeing the cars approach and seeing them disappear, acknowledging them without getting distracted by them. That way, “when we experience those thoughts or feel those emotions in everyday life, we’re better able to let them go,” he explains. “It’s not about being immune to emotions; it’s about not being swept around by this mind that does whatever it wants to do. That’s a genuine skill that anyone can learn.”
4. Understand The Use Case
Parenting is a miracle, the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do, blah, blah, blah. It also exposes insecurities worse than anything since you were trying to lose your virginity because it’s impossible to fully escape the fear that you might be royally screwing it up. “It’s easy to be overwhelmed with worry or frustration or guilt — there’s a cocktail of emotion as a new parent,” says Puddicome. “Meditation is about learning how to rest in uncertainty.”
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