One of my goals for this year is to (once again) develop and maintain a regular meditative practice (this is why I do goals and not binding resolutions). To that end, I've started waking up 40 minutes before the rest of my family so I can have some quiet time in the morning. Much of this time I do get to practice, so it's mostly working in terms of meeting my goal. However, my son (who's five) has a tendency to wake up much earlier than everyone else. More than once he's stumbled out in the middle of my meditation, sometimes crying or whining or just mumbling as he makes a beeline for my lap.
So. What to do? Clearly I've tried to set this time aside for my personal practice. Just as clearly, my son needs me in this moment. It was during one of these moments that I stumbled upon what I call, "Cuddle Meditation". The practice is simple: my son snuggles up to me, and we breathe together. Often I try to get him to sit facing me, his legs wrapped around me in what I call heart-to-heart cuddle meditation. But as he continues to grow, we've had to modify. Now we have leaning cuddle meditation, where he leans against me and we cuddle. Or sometimes he'll put his ear against my chest and we have heartbeat cuddle meditation. We each breathe and try to be very quiet, and he sees if he can hear my heartbeat. The premise is always the same: cuddle, and breathe.
Cuddle Meditation serves two needs, one much more than the other. The lesser is my need to meditate, and my desire to model this practice. By opening up my space to him and inviting him in, I am able to move toward both of these goals (although I must admit, it's not so meditative having a 5-year-old wiggle incessantly on your lap no matter how much you breathe!). The much larger and more important need, however, is connecting with my children. Inviting him in and then having that cuddle with him lets him know that he is my priority. He recognizes that this is my time, and he respects it as best he can (he stays in his room till 6:50, when his special alarm clock changes color). But once the clock is green, he truly needs to connect with his parents. He starts his day with love and acceptance. And cuddles. Because cuddles are awesome.
His sister wakes slightly later, so we have worked to find other times to do Cuddle Meditation with her. I've found it's tricky since we don't have that natural time built into the morning, but I've also found it's really worth it in terms of helping her regulate her emotions and her ability to get through her days more easily. On the days when she has the chance to listen to my heartbeat and breathe with me, we all have a better day.
So as we move forward from a time of resolutions and new beginnings to actually dealing with the daily grind of living, I offer this challenge: What moments can you find where you can connect more deeply with your child(ren)? I think once you think about those moments, you will find you have more opportunities than you thought you had!