Meditation: A Mother-Daughter Experiment

April 2019

This fall, my daughter and I engaged in a meditation experiment. This experiment was part of a class assignment that I could design for myself or include others in the design. My daughter agreed to participate and we began to design a 4 week meditation plan to see if meditation could help our sleep. I read articles learning about other experiments of meditation and sleep. Most of the things I read said that even a small amount of meditation everyday positively effects the quality of sleep. As we thought about how to design and daily questionnaire to chart our sleep, we began to ask other questions. Would we see that over time, we would feel drawn to the practice or less resistant to adding one more thing to our day? Would this help us become more aware of our breath during the day allowing that breath awareness to reduce anxiety and stress? Would the meditation practice positively affect how we felt about our day meaning would our attitude change towards the experiences we had during the day? Would there be immediate benefits to the practice?

I was relatively new to meditation having only practiced for a couple of years, but I had 8 years of yoga practice to lean on. The first benefit of my yoga practice that I felt off my mat was a connection to my breath. Yoga taught me to focus on my breath and consider my breath as a guide to what is going on internally. In yoga, I teach that if the breath becomes choppy or erratic, then you have gone too far and you need to back off. I found this very useful in the early years of raising my children. When I began to focus on my breath off my mat, I realized how often I held my breath. I was stressed, anxious, and I felt ill-equipped to care for the high needs of two children born with food allergies, physical challenges, and mental challenges. I remember standing in my kitchen one day and noticing that I was holding my breath. Immediately I exhaled. I stayed at the kitchen sink for a few moments fully inhaling and exhaling. Afterwards, I felt noticeably different. I felt less anxious. I felt softer and more open to being present to my children. I felt physically relaxed.

My daughter is in middle school and I wondered if the practice would open her awareness to her breath during the day. I hoped that her sleep would improve, but more importantly that this practice would give her another tool to use throughout her day.

We decided to use the Loving-Kindness Meditation building our practice from 3 days the first week and adding a day each week. I recorded my voice leading the 18 minute meditation.

 

Here are the subjective questions we asked ourselves daily for one month:

1- How did you sleep last night?   Circle one: Meditation before sleep   or No Meditation before sleep              (0=not at all; 10=Great! I feel rested and refreshed)

0………………………………………………………5…………………………………………………10

2- What was your day like? (0=stressful; 10=delightful)

0………………………………………………………5.…………………………………………………10

 

Here are the questions we asked ourselves after each meditation practice.

1- What was your day like? (0=stressful; 10=delightful)

0………………………………………………………5.…………………………………………………10

 

2- How do you feel right now? (0=anxious;   10=peaceful)

0………………………………………………………5…………………………………………………10

 

3- Did you feel drawn to/excited about/want more of the practice today? (0=not at all; 10=Yes! Yes!)

0………………………………………………………5…………………………………………………10

 

4- Did you check in with your breath today? (0=nope; 10=several times)

0………………………………………………………5…………………………………………………10

 

After the practice:

5- How do you feel now? (0=anxious; 10=peaceful)

0………………………………………………………………………………………………………………10

 

The next Four weeks, I will tell you how the experiment unfolded.  I hope you will join me!

 

 

 

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