A wave of laughter rippled around the room, Moms and Dads of young children meeting one another’s eyes with understanding and humor.
BlackLion and I were giving a workshop at the Life Without Instructions unschooling conference on how to use the Law of Attraction, and one of the things we advocate is regular practice. I hadn’t intended to be funny. I was talking about the power of visualization, and how it could be done in just a few minutes each day.
“You can visualize when you get a few moments alone, like in the shower,” I said, causing several members of the group to crack up.
My kids are teens, so it’s been a long time since not having a moment of peace, even in the bathroom, was my reality.
The laughter of these parents, some with babies on their laps or toddlers playing at their feet during the workshop, brought me back to those days. I empathized. All the same, spirituality is one of my main passions, and I’ve been doing daily spiritual practice since my oldest child was one year old.
So how did I do it?
Here are some ideas for including regular spiritual practice in your daily life, even if you have little ones – or elderly parents to care for, a job that eats up most of your time, or an on-the-go lifestyle.
Muse while you move. When my kids were little, I lamented to an acquaintance that I wished I had more time for meditation. His immediate advice was to meditate while I drive. What?! He clarified that he didn’t mean zoning out, but rather cultivating a mindful awareness during my commute. I live in rural Maine, where everything is at least a half-hour away by car, and there isn’t much public transportation. So a driving meditation worked for me. You might take a bus or train to work, or walk your dog in the morning. When you’re on the move, let yourself focus on the present moment. Allow your thoughts to drift by without attachment, and bring yourself back to the here and now. It will help you get connected, and might even make you a better driver.
Do some coloring. Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. I’ve been seeing articles touting coloring as “the next best thing to meditation.” Let’s go with that. Kids enjoy coloring, right? Set everyone up at the kitchen table and color together. Practice letting the kids’ happy chatter be part of your zen focus. Go deep into swirls and lines, colors and patterns.
Meditate with dirty dishes. Dirty dishes are a constant in every household. Why not make them an everyday part of connecting with yourself and the Universe? I used to do dishes with some measure of resentment, until I realized I didn’t have to approach them that way. You can take the time at the sink to feel the warm water on your hands, daydream, sing, or repeat affirmations to yourself. Start by acknowledging it as a task that is never truly done. It doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Explore the wilds of your inner self as you wash. You can enjoy a delightful respite from your day, while at the same time accomplishing a necessary chore for your household. Sounds like a win-win.
Play more. What’s one of the things our kids want most from us? Our attention. If kids are keeping you from taking time for spiritual connection, say yes to them. Play with them. Playing opens us up to our inner childlike wonder, and that in turn connects us directly with our inner self. Imagination games are the best. Be the princess or the superhero. Run around the yard. Let your wild inner child get muddy and spent with laughter. If you don’t have young kids of your own, borrow a niece, nephew, or a friend’s child for a weekend afternoon. Experience the power of playfulness!
Ditch the TV and dial down Netflix. There’s no doubt that you’re super busy. Yet when the chores are done (or as done as they’re gonna get), the kids are asleep, and you have an hour or two before you crash, what do you do? Watching TV or Netflix is fun, but how much of it do you really need? Is there something else you could do to relax that would serve you better? Put on some instrumental music and sketch in your journal. Make lists of things you’re thankful for. Write a poem or outline a story. Grab that coloring book and some crayons. Maybe just once or twice a week, give yourself some real “me time,” rather than vegging out in front of a screen.
Make errands an escape. When my kids were little, sometimes a trip to the grocery store, all by myself, was a huge luxury. I would wander the aisles, checking off items on my list, but at the same time I was daydreaming. It might seem like the opposite of mindfulness, but using those random solo errands as a time to turn within can totally work. Think about what you want to manifest in your life. If you’re wanting more abundance, imagine being able to easily afford that fair trade coffee or organic dark chocolate you pass by. If you’re practicing compassion, watch the other shoppers and picture them happy and healed. If you’re seeking connection, practice looking at everything around you as made of the sparkling energy that created the cosmos. Use your imagination to expand mundane chores into an opportunity for deep wisdom to arise.
Share what you know. When my kids were 7 and 5 or so, they would often ask questions about my morning spiritual practice. I agreed to teach them to meditate. It’s hard for most kids that age to sit still, so we made fun little games as they learned. I took them on guided meditations to faerie lands, and we practiced gazing at a candle flame. They loved it – until they lost interest and moved on to other things. You can share what you’re learning with your children, assuming they’re interested, or with others in your life. Read an inspiring passage from a personal growth book to your partner, or mention to your Mom how you’re feeling more calm now that you’ve started a mindfulness practice. If they seem interested, expand the dialogue. Sharing your discoveries not only helps you connect with your loved ones, it encourages you to make more space in your life for the practices that light you up. Family time could be your meditation.
No matter how busy you are, there is always time to dream, to go within, to connect. It’s part of our nature as divine beings. You can find or create ways to open up more space in your life for spiritual connection. You’ll be glad you did.