We have a new puppy in the house. This isn't unusual for us as it's a yearly (or less) occurrence. We foster future Dog Guide puppies for the first year of their life (more about that below) and for the first few months it's like having a new baby here.
Xila doesn't sleep through the night yet, is up early and at this point we're living in the land of movable baby gates, rolled up carpets and the need for her to be within someones sight pretty much all of the time that she's out of the crate. So....it's been cutting in to my meditation time!
How do you maintain your practice when there's interference from external factors? It could be anything from puppies to children to work to household duties to vacation time that is putting a crimp in your meditation.
For many years I've followed the pattern taught to me by davidji - RPM. Rise, Pee, Meditate. It works out perfectly most days when we have a normal routine going on and the puppy is older. But right now? Not so much!
My husband and I have made a deal. He takes the puppy out for her middle of the night 'busy busy' breaks (bless his heart because we are currently in the depths of a snowy cold winter) and I get up with them when it's early morning so that he can go back to bed for some uninterrupted sleep.
So RPM is only working sometimes - sort of. This morning I got a full thirty minutes in an hour or so after the R & P - with only a few interruptions from her barking mother Cider wanting through a baby gate and Xila moving her sleeping spot a few times.
So this is the point of my message. Do what you can!
I can't tell Xila to be quiet and sit there while I meditate for thirty minutes and you probably can't always put everything on hold either. But - you do what you can to make it work and continue your practice.
Yes, this morning I managed thirty minutes, but most days since she's come home that hasn't happened. Some early mornings I've been lucky to grab ten to fifteen minutes and some mornings I haven't managed to meditate at all.
So as the day progresses I'lI watch for an opportunity to meditate for at least a few minutes. I practice Qi Gong daily and usually do it after my meditation. Right now I'm doing the same thing with it - watching for the space where I can practice for fifteen minutes, sometimes with one eye on a sleeping pup. Because I practice Qi Gong as a moving meditation, if I'm really pressed it can become my meditation for the day - although it's not quite the same as sitting in silence with my Nakshatra Mantra. (more on Nakshatras at the bottom of this page)
If you watch for the openings you can make it work. When I'm travelling with others or spending the night somewhere, if there's a place to do so, I'll rise before everyone is up and go there to meditate. If there's nowhere to go without disturbing someone I'll meditate while still in bed. I've grabbed a few minutes of meditation as a passenger in a car and in an airport.
Heck, I've often meditated while standing in line at Disney World and I even managed a few minutes when we were stuck on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. No, I wasn't feeling stressed because we were stopped beside the pigs oinking "Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A Pirates Life for Me!" for an indeterminate amount of time. But for anyone who was stressed it would have been a good tool to use!
You just have to close your eyes, focus on a few rounds of 16 Seconds and there you have it.
Why do I even try to meditate when I can't have a full thirty minutes of uninterrupted peace?
Because I am a much better 'me' when I meditate. All the benefits that come from meditating, like having more patience, being less reactive, better able to brush things off - I need that when there's a lot going on like house-breaking puppies and daily routines that have been turned upside down. (more about the benefits here)
As my Qi Gong instructor teaches, a 2-minute Qi Gong session is better than no Qi Gong at all. I teach the same about meditation - any time in meditation is better than no meditation!
One of the biggest challenges I find with new meditators is that they're so judgemental and hard on themselves - thinking they're not meditating right, or its not quiet enough, or there are too many interruptions.
"Don't bother me now - I'm trying to meditate!!!" (a head down admittance here - I remember saying that to my daughter.)
Cider barking this morning? Needing to open my eyes for a moment to check on the puppy when she was moving? You learn to acknowledge it and then bring your focus right back in to that peaceful place of following your mantra or your breath.
Trust me, I've been in the middle of a meditation and had a small herd of dogs (or it sounded like it) run past the room or its been feeding time and I hear the kibble loudly clanging into their metal bowls.
Carve out the minutes when you can. You may have a preferred time or place for your meditation practice, but when that doesn't work out don't quit!
One of my students loved to stop in the middle of gardening, lean back against a tree and meditate there. Simply do what you can to find a few minutes and if you miss a day, don't berate yourself for doing so. Life is busy and sometimes things get in the way.
But a word of caution......if you fall off the rails and begin to completely miss a week or more of even a few minutes, it can be more difficult to get back on to your meditation track. And if you've been a fairly regular meditator, you will feel the change.
Do what you can, when you can and you will be rewarded! More peace, more patience, more 'you'!
Information about the Foster Puppy Program:
We have been fostering puppies since 2005 for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. It is a wonderful program and they provide Dog Guides without charge across Canada for the following modalities: Canine Vision Canada, Hearing Ear, Autism Assistance, Service/Special Skills, Seizure Response and Diabetic Alert. They have hundreds of people just like us fostering the puppies, loving them and doing socializing training until it's time for them to go back to learn the skills they'll need for their specific 'job'. They have their own breeding program - and Cider, who I mentioned above was our seventh foster pup. She went back to begin training as a Seizure Response Guide Dog, but because of her personality they decided they would like to pass on her traits. We are lucky to foster her in between litters and Xila is her first puppy. We will be able to formally adopt her when it's time for her 'career change.' You can learn about their programs here.
Hi, Glenda here sharing my thoughts with you. I've discovered that what I really do is help people find more peace in a way that is real-world, practical and accessible to anyone. I'm a Certified davidji Masters of Wisdom & Meditation Teacher, a Reiki Master and facilitator and host of retreats and workshops. I welcome your comments and appreciate you taking the time to read this blog. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would simply like to reach out.