Balancing Meditation and Children


I’m a kriyaban and new mom trying to establish a meditation schedule. I try to wake before baby, but that doesn’t always work. Her naps tend to be short, with many responsibilities competing for my attention. At night, meditations often turn into naps. When all else fails, I do kriyas while nursing or rocking her, but 20 minutes twice a day, often interrupted, has become the norm. I know this will pass, but I feel I am failing my kriya vow. I would be grateful for any suggestions!

—Meghan, United States


Dear Meghan,

I was in your shoes just a short three years ago and can completely relate. My two children are now one and three years old respectively and meditation has been a wild journey, to say the least. Before my oldest was born, I received some wonderful advice from my own mother, a founding member of Ananda and a life-long kriyaban.

Tip #1: Every little bit counts! My mother explained that when she had her first, my older brother, she let her daily practice of meditation go for a few weeks. She said that reestablishing a meditation practice with a new baby was made doubly difficult because she had let go of the good habit of daily meditation. I applied her advice and found it very helpful myself. Rather than give up on my meditation because I couldn’t do it the way I once could, I do my best with the tiny snippets of time that I can find. The fact that you squeeze two sessions of Kriya in a day is a heroic effort at this stage and will help you to deepen your meditation in the future, when there is room for longer, deeper meditations once more.

Tip#2: Practice Kriya in any moment you can. Kriya while nursing was the advice of Swami Kriyananda to my mother when she had babies and it has been a great blessing for me. You have already discovered it — isn’t that wonderful?! When I practice Kriya while nursing, I like to imagine that each Kriya is rising through both of our spines and that I am sharing the benefits of Kriya with my baby. Admittedly, the practice is distracted at times and quite different than the deep inner stillness of solitary meditation, but I have found it to be profoundly meaningful in new and unexpected ways.

Tip#3: See the service rendered to your family as service to the Guru himself. I like to imagine Yogananda’s mother, with eight little children pulling at her skirts. What a test it would be to have a huge family like that! When you can remember to, try to imagine that your baby is baby Krishna or Yogananda or a saint that you feel a connection with. Serve your little one like they are an incarnation of God and your service becomes part of your own Sadhana.

The struggle to meditate with little ones is a very universal experience. I hope it helps to know that you are not alone! As your baby grows, the challenges with meditation will shift, but they will continue to exist. If you can remain flexible, sincere, creative and determined in your practice, the years of sleepy meditations and partial practice will flower into a deep inner life just as years of solitary meditation will.

In divine friendship and joy,