Meditation has many benefits. It helps you to stay calm during stressful situations (sound familiar, moms and dads out there?). You gain new perspectives on daily living and it even helps to increase your patience and tolerance. Anyone with a toddler in the house will know the value of this! Meditation for dads is one way we menfolk learn valuable parenting skills.
If you’re a father and exploring ways of handling your children with calmness and clarity, I highly recommend mastering meditation. I know this because this is a practice I’ve integrated into my own life and do as often as possible. From my own experience, I can share that I’m more aware, better equipped to handle emotions, and able to breathe through most stressful occasions!
While I started meditating before my daughter arrived in our lives, I can’t tell you how valuable this practice has been for me as a father. So, to all you dads out there. Get “ohm-ing” and discover how mindfulness will improve your role as a dad to your kids, no matter how old they are.
How I Discovered Meditation – My Story Before I Became a Dad
My experience with meditation started when I took part in a one-year-long program on self-mastery. This mentorship program is called Own Your Superstar. It’s taught by a phenomenal lady called Mahima Klinge. She’s my female version of Tony Robbins! Mahima Klinge is an incredibly energetic person with so much to share. Plus, she simply knows how to bring out the best version of everyone who interacts with her.
During the course of this program, I discovered how to participate in group meditations as well as how to meditate on my own at home. Through meditation, I learned to expand my thinking. I was able to find my ikigai, my reason for being, or as some would say, my life purpose.
My growth, both personally and professionally, was enhanced during this program. This growth continues based not only on the knowledge and skills I gained from this program but exploring further.
My girlfriend (now my fiancée) and I continued the path of building up our self-awareness so that we could become more mindful. Together we took a trip to Thailand and spent time visiting Koh Samui and Bangkok. There, we discovered more about meditation and how to use it to grow our own mindfulness.
All of this happened before I became a father.
How to do Meditation When You Are Not a Parent
I’ll confess now and admit meditating is a whole lot easier when you don’t have kids around! You’ve more time on your hands and less noise to disturb you. You simply sit down, breathe, and let the moment take you into a space of calmness and peace.
So, let’s pretend you’re not a frazzled parent right now reading this article. You’ve got all the time in the world (yeah, right!), your home is tranquil and you want to learn how to meditate. You’ve heard all about the benefits and you want to master your emotions, so you can have some clarity while handling the stress of everyday life.
Whatever your reason for wanting more mindfulness, I’m going to take you through some simple steps to get you started. Remember, there are many ways to meditate and as you develop and grow, you may find a certain technique works better for you.
Simple Steps to Get You Started
- Get comfortable. This could be by sitting on a comfy cushion on the floor or on your couch.
- Allocate time. When first getting into meditation set yourself a short time limit such as five to ten minutes.
- Close your eyes. It helps to tune out the world around you by closing your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing. Bring your attention to your breaths. Are you breathing from your belly or through your nose? Notice where your breathing happens and focus on each inhale and exhale.
- Be aware when your mind wanders. It’s inevitable but your thoughts will wade through and try to distract you. Instead of resisting these thoughts, simply acknowledge them and then bring your attention back to your breaths.
- Choose kindness. When the thoughts do invade and get your attention, don’t get angry or obsessive about the thoughts. Be kind to yourself, and then come back to your breaths.
- Close with gratitude. When you end your meditation, open your eyes. Slowly take in your surroundings and notice how you and your body feels. End off by saying, ‘Thank You”.
The more you practice this routine, the longer you’ll meditate. You’ll also start to notice subtle changes in the way you feel, think, and act.
How I Meditate As a Father with my Toddler and my Fiancée
I was fortunate to have already started meditating by the time my daughter came into my world. It wasn’t easy, though, to keep the practice up especially when my daughter reached her toddler years.
She’s more inquisitive and wants to know why I sometimes sit on the couch and listen to “that man” during my guided meditation which you can see and listen to below.
I try and explain, in her language, why I like to meditate. It’s not easy explaining to a two-year-old! But, she does nod her head furiously when I tell her it helps me stay calm.
I like to set the tone of my day by starting it with mediation after our breakfast. I invite her to sit down next to me on the couch. If I don’t turn on the above video, then I usually turn on this one:
This is when it gets challenging.
My toddler loves to imitate me. So, she’ll happily sit down and close her eyes. But, within 30 seconds of starting the meditation, she starts to fidget. It takes all my willpower to keep my mouth shut and my eyes close. I know she’s only at the beginning of this meditation journey and with every day, she’ll manage another few more seconds to hold her concentration.
Having a toddler around makes it difficult to keep my daily meditation routine up. My daughter loves to remind me though when I haven’t taken to the couch. She often insists she wants to hear “that man” playing music that keeps her dad calm! It’s hard to say no to her sweet words.
Steps to Help Your Toddler Meditate With You
- Explain to your toddler that he or she is going to learn how to stay calm (like her dad or mom).
- Show her how to sit. Depending on how you normally sit, you can either show her how to sit on the floor with legs crossed or on a chair or couch. My fiancée and I like to sit on our couch.
- Start by asking your toddler to place one hand on her stomach and one hand on her heart. Or, she can place the back of her hands on her thighs. She can also close her eyes.
- Ask her to feel each breath by feeling the movement with her hand. Tell her to focus on each breath and movement.
- Turn on a guided meditation and tell her to listen to it while feeling her breaths.
- Let her be and when she starts to fidget (normally after 30 seconds to one minute), tell her she can get up quietly (if you’re still meditating) and leave the room.
- She can also stay with you on the couch but suggest she lies down and listens to the rest of the meditation until you’re finished.
Both my fiancée and I find it easier to meditate on our own, with one of us keeping our daughter occupied once she gets bored with the meditation. If my fiancée isn’t around, I accept my meditation may be interrupted and I choose to go with the flow.
I see these times as opportunities to guide my daughter towards a mindfulness experience and if it means I only get a couple of minutes of meditation in then it’s fine.
Your Toddler is Going to Fidget
Get this, your toddler is going to fidget when you first introduce them to meditation. It’s normal behavior. You simply can’t expect them to sit and concentrate for too long. Something else you need to know about children. They learn from observation. So, if you practice meditation regularly, your child will want to do the same.
The best way to manage the fidgeting is to incorporate it into meditation. This method works better when your child is three or four years old. I know of one mother who involved her four-year-old in her meditation class. The child would lie on her back, stare at the ceiling and start “bicycle” movements with her legs while “ohm-ing” to her heart’s content.
“What are you doing?”, the mother asked her daughter the first time she did this.
“You’re messing with my peace, Mom”, the child said back, returning to her ohm-ing while “cycling” away.
While the mother was initially annoyed (which was not a good idea while she herself was trying to meditate), the more she watched her daughter, the more she realized her child was actually doing her own form of meditation.
Being outdoors and close to nature is a good way to bring in mediation. Steve Jobs was a huge fan of walking and used mindfulness to help focus his mind. Walking meditation entails bringing your attention to your walking. Your toddler may find it easier to meditate by being active instead of trying to keep still (like dad!).
Your toddler will love it even more when you tell her she can do it barefoot! Slowly, start walking and tell her to focus on each step and how each movement feels. You could bring her attention to each step with verbal cues such as “lifting” or “placing”.
By the way, if your toddler has a wild imagination and wants to rather hop like a frog, then by all means let her do it. What rocks her boat (or gets her meditating) may be different from how you see it happening. Remember, there are different techniques to meditating.
Watch this video on how to use humor (together with dollops of patience) to help your child get into meditation.
How I Meditate When My Toddler is NOT Around
Parents learn to adapt quickly when the kids are around. The same applies when my fiancée takes our daughter outside for a walk. When I know this is going to happen, I move my mediation to that time when she’s NOT around.
It’s honestly easier to fit into my toddler’s routine sometimes! Then, I listen to my guided meditations in peace. There’s no little body fidgeting and huffing as she waits for dad to get calm and open his eyes.
This does mean I may not get to do my practice every day. It’s even harder at the moment with the COVID-19 pandemic and not sending her to kindergarten. But, I can tell you, that even if I only meditate 80% of the time, I’m still getting all the benefits.
Learning how to meditate as a dad with a toddler in tow is not always easy. Having a willingness to teach your toddler mindfulness is rewarding and you’ll see the gifts emerging as they grow up. It’s all about being kind to yourself, having a sense of humor, and embracing the challenges of raising a mindfulness toddler.