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From Tantrums to Treats: Meditation with a Toddler

In a recent conversation with other yogi parents a realization that had been slowly creeping into my awareness became solidified and its importance finally made sense. My spiritual practice effects my children and if I want them to associate spirituality with something positive, I better understand how they experience it.

This reality began with the cries of anguish I could hear in the living room when my husband had to explain to my toddler that, “Mommy will be back soon, she’s just meditating.” How does that feel to a toddler? Something like this: Mommy meditating = hell-fire and damnation are upon me! Seriously. Toddlers are really melodramatic.

For sometime, I struggled with the wails of discontent or tried halfheartedly to drag myself out of bed before the babies were awake in order to get some peace and quiet for my meditation. The early meditations were especially challenging because my newborn son had yet to sleep through the night and, therefore, I was chronically exhausted.

Pretty quickly, my husband and I realized that the wails of sorrow that accompany such a statement are not a good thing to associate with meditation. So, we began saying, “Mommy is meditating. Would you like to go meditate with her?” Ah, what a transformation such an invitation has created in my morning sadhana.

With this change in parenting strategy, my meditations are now more filled with sweetness than I could ever imagine. Most mornings, I feel my little one brush past me, take a seat on her daddy’s meditation cushion, pull his shawl around her shoulders, hold his mala between her delicate fingers and begin to mutter prayers under her breath or sing or just sit. Sometimes I get sweet kisses on my cheeks. Sometimes I can make out things like, “Divine Mother, I love you,” from the pillow next to me. Occasionally, she plops herself down on my lap and just lets me hold her while I continue meditating. Her visits last as long as 10 minutes and then she flits away, back to the kitchen.

What I’ve realized is that including my children, my entire family for that matter, into my spiritual practice is the greatest way I can serve them. For a long time I didn’t understand what was meant by the many people who have told me that, “your children are your sadhana (spiritual practice).” But now I get it. I’m not saying that silent meditation isn’t something I treasure, or that I don’t do my practice daily as my Guru taught me. But, it is different now. It’s not just my sadhana, in much the same way that my body isn’t mine anymore either.

Having children and trying to maintain a deep inner life is such a journey. What will come next? I have no idea. As my children grow up, even a little, I expect it will change. I’m overflowing with gratitude for the life I am privileged to lead and the incredible souls who decided to join my husband and I for this lifetime.

May we all be inspired to go deeper in love and joy and bliss.


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