Holy M*ther is a new column that explores both the profanities and the holiness of motherhood in our modern society. Topics will range from outright rants about the difficulties of motherhood to practical tips and suggestions about how to balance mothering with self-care and spirituality. I hope you enjoy!
EVERY PARENT KNOWS THAT a little time to ourselves to think, sit, or even read a book or watch a movie, uninterrupted, makes us better parents. We’re also painfully aware that our habits and actions are setting the default examples for the habits and actions of our children. Which is why I’ve taken the task of creating a do-able spiritual practice so seriously. I want my boys to make the time and space for their own spiritual practices as they grow up. I want them to be able to tap into the grounded centeredness and to never lose their sense of magic or their sense of who they are in this world. That’s what spiritual practice does for me at any rate.
I’ll be the first to admit that my spiritual practice went right out the window when my son was born. Well, it was more that parenting became my spiritual practice, at least that’s what I tell myself, which is all well and good but at some point we as parents need to reclaim some of our own space and time. Just when my son and I were sleeping through the night again, his little brother was born. After four years of struggling to find a balance between nourishing my children and nourishing my soul, I’ve finally found a spiritual practice that let’s me do both. And the best part? This practice can take as little as five minutes or can expand to fill an unexpected and delicious afternoon to myself.
Here are my tips for creating a nourishing and practical spiritual practice as parents and how to include your children:
1.) Work with your dreams. You’re already sleeping and you’re already dreaming, now all you have to do is take a couple of moments in the morning to write down your dreams. Our subconscious and the Divine communicate through dreams and the more effort you put into remembering and working with your dreams, the more guidance you’ll receive from your dreams. If you have trouble remembering your dreams, write down “Tonight I will remember my dreams” on a notepad next to your bed. In the morning, write down anything you can remember, no matter how small. If you remember nothing write “No dream recall.” The act of writing about your dreams before and after sleep will signal to your brain that this dreaming thing is important and should be remembered. It will also transfer your dreams from the short-term memory bank to the long-term memory bank, helping you to remember more dreams with more details, for a longer period of time.
With the kids: Kids start remembering their dreams around 3 or 4 years old. Make a morning ritual of asking your children about their dreams in the morning. Help them take it to the next level by journaling the dreams for them or helping them create a piece of art or a skit based on the dream.
2.) Touch nature. As soon as you can in the mornings, experience nature. Whether you keep a beautiful house plant in your bedroom, you walk outside to place your hand on a tree or you have the privilege of walking barefoot across an expansive lawn. Do something every day to ground yourself in nature. This can involve a grounding exercise or can be as simple as placing your hand on a tree or plant and taking a couple of deep breaths. Do this regularly and you’ll find it makes you more calm and present— two very important gifts you can give yourself and your children.
With the kids: Encourage young ones to touch nature every day as well. Whether they join you or you encourage them in their own practice, instilling an appreciation and love for nature at a young age will help insure that your children will be good stewards of the earth. Bonus: it will also help them be more calm and present throughout the day!
3.) Honor your ancestors. In today’s world of virtual realities just a fingertip away, it’s more important than ever to know who you are and where you come from. This has been the biggest game changer for my spiritual practice. I work at my ancestral altar daily [inyourbones.coach/freecourse] to express gratitude for those who came before me and to ask for guidance. You could also create a small ancestral altar but even doing a little genealogical investigating can bring a deeper sense of belonging and of knowing your place in this world. You can interview older members of your family to find out when and from where your ancestors immigrated or do an online genealogical search. I also recommend looking and asking if there are any old superstitions or family lore you should know about. Often, superstition and lore are really cultural and spiritual beliefs and truths in disguise. Unraveling these mysteries is not only culturally gratifying but satisfying to your own spiritual lineage.
With the kids: Invite them to place an object on your altar or to create an altar of their own. If an altar isn’t your style, find some old photographs and sit down with your kids and tell them the story of who they are within the context of who came before them.
4.) Celebrate synchronicities. If you’ve been working with your dreams, grounding yourself in nature every day and expressing gratitude/asking for guidance from those who came before you, you will start to notice a flurry of synchronicities surrounding you. This is magic. It will happen even if you only do one of the aforementioned steps. Guidance comes in dreams and that same guidance is trying to get your attention during the day via synchronicities. Look for overlap between what you dream, what you’ve asked for guidance on and for what comes across your path during the day. I highly recommend keeping a small notebook in your purse or pocket to write down synchronistic events as they happen— they are slippery memories just like dreams! Keep an eye and ear out for snippets of conversation that sound like they are a message just for you. Synchronicities also like to come through random songs on the radio, license plate quips, book recommendations, headlines, etc. Start acting on/following synchronicities and they will increase!
With the kids: As I have already mentioned: synchronicities are magic. Kids love magic and encouraging their belief in magic will only serve to encourage their trust in their own intuition. Teach your kids about synchronicities, point them out and celebrate the magic that comes across your path. Again, you’re already going about your day; noticing, recording and acting on the synchronicities that are already trying to get your attention will add immense value and magic to your spiritual practice while only taking a few extra moments a day.
5.) Gratitude. No spiritual practice would be complete without gratitude. I personally like to make a list of five things I am grateful for in the mornings at the same time as I am writing down my dreams. However, evenings are also a great time to pause and reflect on the day and expressing gratitude for blessings of the day. It’s true that what we put our attention on grows, so it only makes sense to put a little extra focus on the good things in our life.
With the kids: Help your kids make a gratitude journal or keep a gratitude jar on the kitchen counter. Everyday encourage them to write down something they are grateful for in their journals or on a slip of paper to place in the jar. In a modern culture where instant gratification rules, teaching our children to slow down and appreciate what is already here is a priceless skill.
How do you balance motherhood and self-care/spirituality? How do you involve your kids? Tell us in the comments!