So I’m pretty sure I’ve invented a new type of meditation. I’ve googled it and everything – no one has thought of it before; I’m truly a trailblazer. Combining my sparkling new motherhood experience and my only slightly more established mindfulness meditation practice, I present: nursing meditation (or, nipple meditation – if you prefer).
Essentially a modification on anapana sati, the Buddhist meditation of mindfulness on breathing, it goes a little something like this:
- Do whatever you usually do to start feeding – get comfortable, have water nearby, get baby latched on and settled in.
- Let your eyes close gently, sit up straight, and take a few deep breaths to settle in yourself – into your body, the experience and sensations of right now.
- When you feel calm and present, bring your full attention to the nipple of the breast from which your child is eating. At first you might just notice the sucking, tugging sensation of nursing – and that’s fine. When your mind wanders – and it always will – your only job is to gently bring it back to your nipple. As you deepen your concentration the subtleties of sensation – perhaps temperature, speed, texture – will reveal themselves. Without judging or analyzing, simply observe – sit back and watch the sensations, the experience of each moment come and go.
- For bonus points (not really), cultivate an appreciation for the truly amazing process of growing this tiny, beautiful creation – which started as a few cells inside you however many months ago and now continues to be nurtured by your body.
- When your nursling is finished his/her meal, open your eyes and take a moment – and really be there – before rushing off to continue the ongoing cycle of diaper changes, baths, tummy time and naps.
- Repeat as often as possible.
Now, I’m pretty sure this isn’t gonna give me a free ticket to nirvana or anything, but it does seem to be keeping my fledgling meditation practice at bay while riding the early months of parenthood. Just breaking it down, getting out of my head and into my body for a few minutes, a few times a day brings a centered quality to my consciousness that I’ve only ever been able to achieve through meditation.
Babies live in the moment. The least we can do is try to meet them there every now and then.