Mini-Meditations for Busy People
Before kids, I used to start my day with one palm snuggled around a warm cup of coffee, the other scrawling out my feelings in a journal. It was how I shook the silt off of my brain, unclogging the detritus of resentments and angst that come with being human. Clearing room helped me begin the day pleasantly empty, with space to hold the impending day.
Now my days begin with my six-year-old yanking up my eyelids, blowing onto my nostrils, or just standing by my bedside staring at me like he’s auditioning for the lead role in a horror movie. After this rupture of sleep, I spend an hour or two fielding demands like “Mommm!!! More toast! Mom! I’m thirsty! Mom! Where’s my light saber?” I microwave my tepid coffee repeatedly as I assemble my kids’ lunches and nag them to get dressed, brush their teeth and eat some protein.
Unlike my pre-parental self, I often start the day barely knowing what I’m feeling. At least until I hear my own voice. It often sounds taut and wired, a fuse ready to blow.
So after my husband wakes up, I head back upstairs. I sit in a carpeted corner of my bedroom, load a guided meditation on my phone, and close my eyes.
Sometimes it’s only for three minutes. The point is to stop. Stop thinking. Stop reacting. Stop the mental ticker tape of things to do.
And also, to start. Start breathing. Start listening to the whistle of air rising up through my nose, inflating my lungs, the brief holding before letting go again and starting over. The essential, involuntary magic that supports life.
My favorite meditation is the metta, or loving kindness meditation. In metta, we offer love and wellbeing to the world, beginning with ourselves. “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I live with ease.” Next, I imagine my husband and children’s faces (blissfully quiet), and I wish them well. Usually, my agitation drips away as I exhale the wishes further out, including other family members, friends, and even people who I have trouble with.
It’s not the same as spilling myself across the page, but it’s another type of emptying and resetting. And it’s one I can return to throughout the day. Sometimes at traffic lights, I watch the faces of drivers zooming past. I watch their faces—rushed or angry or singing faces—and I wish them well. May you be happy. Or in line at the grocery store, when I’m feeling impatient and grouchy. Sometimes I stop and offer small, good wishes to the people ahead of me, or the people working. May you be safe. I can feel the internal shift like a turned tide.
Because love. Love is elemental, essential. It’s the motivation behind the most important pieces of my life: my family, friends, my work.
When I come back to love, like my breath, everything else is okay. I can feel the soft electricity of my own heart, and that of others; studies have found that the electric energy of the human heart extends six feet beyond our bodies. In line at the grocery store, carts full of milk and fruit and butter, we are connected, we are twined.
I still get impatient and grouchy and resentful on a daily basis. But I’m making space for something else to come in, and like any other muscle, the muscle of kindness and love strengthens over time and practice. I give it away, and in doing so, I fill my own heart, absorbing the rush of current and warmth.
I don’t know if my little prayers, my tiny blessings, make it to their recipients, if my energy meets theirs, bringing a brief, inexplicable blast of goodness or warmth.
I don’t know if it makes a difference in their day.
What I know for sure?
They change me. They clear the way.
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This post was written by Lynn Shattuck exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.