Meditation and Being a New Parent

Posted by Steve Haase on Oct 30, 2015 10:00:00 AM

I recently welcomed the most beautiful baby girl into my life, Audrey Ray Aquin-Haase, born on October 14, 2015 at Massachusetts General Hospital. To say I was overcome with emotion when she finally emerged into the world is an understatement. 

I was a mess. 

Tears streamed down my face at the sight of this tiny new life, created by Erin and me, and utterly dependent on us.

Wiggling her tiny fingers and toes and wailing with miraculous power for a freshly minted earthling, I was amazed with her, and was immediately in love. 

As Erin and I are getting to know her, we're welcoming new experiences and new challenges. All-night vigils now have a new meaning: no longer about sitting in meditation or chanting, they now feature feedings and diaper changing throughout the night. We are told this subsides eventually. We are praying that it happens soon :)

As a meditator, the question that keeps coming up for me is what equanimity looks like in the midst of these new experiences, particularly the increased chaos. The house is messier, and so are my emotions (anyone who knows me has seen the "why did you just wake me up" face—that's happening more often these days). But I experience clarity when looking through the lens of meditation: these experiences come and go. Plus, every new parent has these same experiences. There is nothing wrong with feeling frazzled, or having the decreased brain power associated with lack of sleep, or with being giddily in love with this tiny being that I just met (she totally just took the biggest, loudest poop right now. Why is it so funny? I think that's universal too).

As for Erin, I was most impressed with how meditation influenced her "birth plan," particularly in how she didn't have one. We went to the hospital as the contractions started coming closer together, and neither of us had any idea as to how we expected the process to go, just that we'd have a baby at the end of it. What ended up happening was a study in presence and responding in the moment. Without going into too many details, Erin's ability to go with the flow during the labor and birth process was a testament to her trust in the hospital staff, and I would say even in life itself. That deep trust in the process is one of the benefits of meditation, and one that served Erin well in delivering the baby.

Finally, in being around this new life there is an aspect of something new being born in me. In a very real way, a new world exists within mine and Erin's, one that is tiny and squiggly and gassy and painfully cute. While she is learning all about existence itself, I'm learning all about her existence—her feeding cues, her sleeping patterns, and her growing baby body (I did not previously notice how fast babies grow). 

All this feels like an awakening. Early in my meditation experiences, I would have "eyes wide open" moments, where the clarity and wakefulness of meditation were so intense that veils of separation seemed to dissolve before me. In seeing Audrey's wide bright eyes taking in the sights around her, I experience something similar. 

If you want to learn more about meditation for your life—or even learn how to teach it to others—join Erin and me for a meditation retreat and teacher training in Hamilton, Ontario this December. We've extended the early bird discount until November 8, so take a moment to check it out and join us!

Become a Meditation Teacher This Winter

Can't join us for the full training? Come for the weekend retreat!

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