Can you meditate beside a sleeping baby?

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It’s not quite a zen koan, but it is a real paradox I faced today. Meditating every day is actually sometimes hard to do. Only 4 days in and well … I haven’t meditated 4 times. So today while baby napped I thought it was a great opportunity to try sitting beside her on the bed and breathing.

I got about 1 minute in and remembered that I hadn’t said my prayer for the day. I decided to prioritize that, said it, went back to meditate. And didn’t. Sleeping babies are so peaceful, you would think that they would be naturals for inducing meditation. But they are also incredibly cute and all-absorbing. I found myself listening to HER breathing, watching her sweet face, relaxing beside her. I suppose it was a form of meditation with baby as the object of concentration. Not what I planned, though more in the moment than I sometimes feel. And then I decided to sleep with her – the other hazard of sleeping babies. We both enjoyed a wonderful long nap.

I found myself in a similar being-in-the-moment meditation earlier in the day. Baby was fussing and I couldn’t figure out what she needed so I took her for a walk around the yard. She calmed down and then we went to the blueberry bushes. I started picking and feeding her and she kept eating. I picked a bowl and we sat together on the porch, her on my lap facing me, sharing a bowl of blueberries. Magical.

Tonight the 3 of us went on a long walk, ending up on the grass by the water. Baby & I followed dogs, kids and ducks around for a while, then she started nursing and fell asleep on me. I held her, smoothed her hair, watched her and was there with her – not in the future, not the past, just enjoying the moment.

I wouldn’t argue that babies force you to be present, but I believe they create the opportunity. Being present is part of connecting with my instincts and feeling peace. It creates peace as well, as presence is grounding and affirming for those with whom you’re interacting. I know baby can feel it when I am with her rather than multitasking or planning my next move. I will still do some breathing tonight before I go to bed, but am glad to have seen today the value of being present, of focusing on those I am with, of enjoying each moment as it comes.

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