I’ve just finished reading John Kabat-Zinn‘s book Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. It contains a lovely passage about meditating with your baby.
When we had babies in the house, even the morning time was up for grabs. You couldn’t be too attached to anything because everything you set out to do, even if you arranged it very carefully, was always getting interrupted or completely thwarted. Our babies slept very little. They always seemed to be up late and to wake up early, especially if I was meditating. They seemed to sense when I was up and would wake up too. Some days I would have to push my time for myself back to 4:00am to get any sitting or yoga in. At other times I was just too exhausted to care, and figured the sleep was more important anyway. And sometime I would just sit with the baby on my lap, and let him or her decide how long it would last. They loved being wrapped up in the meditation blanket, with only their heads sticking out, and frequently would stay still for extended periods, while I followed not my breathing but our breathing.
I felt strong in those days, and still do, that an awareness of my body and my breath and of our close contact as I held them while we sat help my babies to sense calmness and explore stillness and feelings of acceptance. And their inner relaxation, which was much greater and purer than mine because their minds were not filled with adult thoughts and worries, helped me to be more calm and relaxed and present.
It is a lovely book that demystifies meditation. He takes a simple grounded approach that reclaims mindfulness from the airy realm of ‘spirituality’ and brings it back into the concrete here and now. He makes the case that meditation isn’t an escape from everyday reality but a way to embrace and accept it.
And there’s perhaps no greater need for that than when maelstrom of a little baby arrives in your life. But as John experienced it, babies can be little Zen masters. They will come into your life and turn it upside down. They will be relentless, demanding and surprising but will reward you by keeping you completely in the present.