About a year ago, I was laid off from a job I had worked at for 10 years. Instead of sulking, I realized that my former job wasn't a great fit and started down a new path. I was struggling with this transition from employee to new entrepreneur, but I was also excited and energized by my midlife career reinvention as a writer and coach. Though I realized making it work, and earning a living from it, was proving to be much harder than I expected.
Then there were my parenting responsibilities. I love being an involved dad. With my new flexible schedule, I was the one getting our 6-year-old son ready for school each morning. If you’re a parent, you know the getting ready (and to school on time!) routine can be a test of your patience. Even so, I was getting used to my new role as a stay-at-home dad, especially after having been away on business trips so often during the first five years of my son’s life.
With all these life changes, I put a lot of pressure on myself to adjust and to be successful. I began cracking under that pressure. I was no longer the calm person I used to be, and my fuse was virtually nonexistent. The tiniest things would trigger an outburst of emotion and frustration.
Like the mornings when we were running late and rushed to get ready and off to school. The slightest delay in our progress, from an “I need my toy first” or some other emergency, caused me to snap and I’d get mad and yell at my son. My impatience with him and everyone else hit a whole new level during this period. I didn’t like this person I had become.
That’s when I discovered the power of meditation. For several months before, I’d heard so many highly successful people say how meditation benefited them, but I resisted. I had some preconceived views on meditation that made me doubt whether I could meditate or that it would be helpful. It was then that one of my mentors introduced me to a guided meditation app. I put aside my doubts, downloaded the app, and tried my first meditation session — and it really worked!
Since that day in early January, I’ve been meditating nearly every day. I was amazed at the impact it started having on my life almost immediately, including making me a better dad. It’s become the foundation of my morning routine. Here’s how it can help you, too:
1. Meditating helped me let go of my impatience.
Meditating each morning enables you to start your day with a calm and clear mind. You become more aware of your actions and reactions to different triggers, and you let go of your impatience before it triggers an outburst. We still rush to get ready and off to school most mornings, but now I’m more relaxed, and the little delays and interruptions that happen no longer trigger the same response in my head.
2. Meditating makes me more focused.
Regular meditation will help you be more focused on the here and now and less preoccupied with everything else. It can even alleviate that constant urge to pick up your phone. Before I started meditating, I’d be physically present playing with my son, but mentally I was checked out. I was constantly thinking about everything else I needed to be doing, constantly checking my phone, and just not fully enjoying my time with him.
3. Meditating has made me a more self-aware person.
Meditation not only heightens your self-awareness, but it also increases your awareness of everything that’s happening around you. I’m able to notice activity and sounds around me that I was previously oblivious to, and the self-awareness has given me a deeper appreciation for my role as a dad.
If you’ve been hesitant to incorporate meditation into your daily life, I highly recommend you give it a try. You may even want to share this article with your significant other. As my wife said, "Whatever you’re doing that's making you react more calmly when we have a disagreement, keep doing it!"
Here are some articles that can help to guide any meditation newbies out there: