Peaceful parenting - a lesson in meditation

Meditation teacher Joanne Mensforth Ph.D reveals her top tips

Parenthood is a gift, it’s also a life-changing event – the enormity of which, we never quite understand until we are in it

Parenthood is a gift, it’s also a life-changing event – the enormity of which, we never quite understand until we are in it. And once we’re in, we’re in it for life. At times you wish you could get out and just be with yourself for a while. "And that’s ok," says Joanne Mensforth Ph.D.

There is a way to gather support and find the answers and peace of mind you are looking for. There is a place you can find some peace and ‘me’ time – a paradise of calm just waiting for you to arrive. And you can visit this sanctuary through meditation any time you like.

For some people the thought of meditation instills fear. How on earth am I going to switch my thoughts off and sit quietly? The requirement to shut off your thoughts and be completely quiet is a misconception. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for your conscious mind to ‘think’ during meditation. Meditation is a process, a journey that changes each time you make it. Meditation enables you to access a place of refuge, to reach you own inner space and connect with your true being and to tap into higher wisdom for guidance, answers, acceptance and love. It is a place where you can deal with your thoughts constructively and release them to find some inner peace.

As a meditation teacher I help people discover this inner sanctuary and connection to something far greater than their physical body and their thoughts.  My classes are filled with people at all stages of parenting: new parents, parents-to-be and parents of older children. What all parents have in common is that they are ready to start focusing on themselves. Their foremost desire is that they crave ‘me’ time and long for a deeper connection with life.

Find a comfortable sitting position and consciously bring your attention to the breath. Watch how it creates a rise (breathing in) and fall (breathing out) in your chest. Imagine the breath entering through your heart and exiting the same way. Spend some time breathing in and out of the heart. Throughout your meditation this will be your returning point when the mind has wandered and you’re ready to return to the breath. With your focus on the breath you will soon notice, as any perfectly normal mind would do, thoughts have appeared in your head. Once you become aware that you are thinking, stop, and take a look at the thought. Is this thought necessary right now? Is this thought prompting you to make a decision? Can you solve this thought on your own? And is this how you really want to think?

How to recognise and release arising thoughts in meditation:

1. A persistent thought you know you need to work on:
Firstly, acknowledge this thought brings up an issue you want to address and then tell yourself, so as to remain unattached to this thought during meditation, ‘I need to spend some more time on this thought.  It is important. I will revisit this thought after meditation.’ Let the thought go, knowing that you can return to it after meditation and focus back on your breath coming in and out through the heart.

2. A persistent thought that relates to someone else’s problem:
Does this thought directly relate to you? If not, tell yourself, ‘This thought has nothing to do with me. It’s someone else’s problem. I don’t need to fix anyone else. I give it back to them and return to my breath.’

3. A persistent thought  that represents a big issue in your life, that you can’t seem to find an answer for:
If this thought really troubles you and you feel you have no way out, stop and offer these thoughts to Life, ‘Please take these thoughts and bring me back an answer. I can’t do it on my own and I need your help’. Then come back to your breath, knowing that you are supported by life and will receive an answer to your problem in the very near future.

A persistent negative thought
If a negative thought enters about you or you life, stop this thought immediately and say, ‘I don’t think like that anymore’. Replace that thought with a positive affirmation to reprogram the mind, for example, ‘I feel so unattractive since having children’ can be replaced with, ‘I am grateful to my body for nurturing my beautiful children. I love the way I look. I am beautiful’. Then let go and return to your breath.

You become in control of your mind when you start to observe each thought as it arises and then choose what you need to do with your thoughts, or, decide if you even need the thought at all. Sooner or later, the thoughts that fill your mind will start to slow down. You will begin to experience moments of stillness as the space between each thought becomes longer. It is then that you feel some peace and can sit quietly in your own inner sanctuary of calm.  

It’s comforting to note that whether your mind is busy or still during meditation doesn’t matter, it is all part of the meditation process, and it changes from day to day, depending on what is happening in your life. This is why meditation becomes such a helpful tool to a parent. It helps you to clear your head and make decisions based on observation and reflection rather than stress and conflicting thought. It gives you some time out from the constant chatter and noise of a busy family home and work environment so you can deal with your mind and access some well deserved peace.

The mindfulness gained from regular meditation will automatically filter over into your daily life. You will notice yourself becoming the observer of your own life; watching events as they come up and deciding whether you need to get involved in the event, leave the event for someone else to deal with, or knowing you need to ask life for a bit of divine help and guidance to deal with the situation.  

Meditation will help you to move away from the stress of everyday life and re-attach you to the joy of living. For the modern parent, five to twenty minutes of meditation can mean the difference between depression, feeling overwhelmed and lashing out at family, and feeling positive, able to cope and creating a peaceful, loving home environment. You don’t have to meditate everyday, but try it a few times and notice the difference. If it feels good than do it more. Overtime you may choose to make meditation a daily practice, as you notice the positive benefits and the increasing happiness for you and your family.

Joanne Mensforth Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy specialising in Holistic Life Coaching, she holds her Masters in Metaphysical Science, is a Yoga & Meditation teacher and a Reiki Master Teacher. Visit to purchase a CD and find out more about her work. You can also follow Joanne Mensforth Ph.D. on facebook.

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