Mindfulness Altars for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
“We can slow down enough to enjoy our morning tea or a hug from our child.”
Waking early this morning, a brilliant sunrise illuminated the far mountains and the near greenbelt that is part of my back yard. Before the we begin our busy day, we can take a pause for silence and meditation. In the morning hours before work and school and breakfast, before kid and pet care, we can find a quiet corner where we have perhaps built an altar. Lighting a candle, we are invited to close our eyes, take a few deep breaths and settle into the stillness. Soon enough our thoughts will fill with daily activity. But for these few precious minutes, we can set intentions, offer gratitude, and enjoy the sustenance of our practice.
Mindfulness practice calls us to be here in the present moment. Perhaps we awoke feeling agitated or confused. Morning meditation can soothe the worried mind by bringing kindness and compassion to our thoughts. Anticipating a busy or challenging day, we can support ourselves with the foundation and invitation to be in the moment instead of three (or thirty) steps ahead. We can slow down enough to enjoy our morning tea or a hug from our child. As they say, 'stop to smell the roses,' because the roses or the tea or the child are here in the present moment. And we impoverish ourselves by not seeing what is directly in front of us in our hurry to get to the next thing.
An altar can support our practice. Some folks build elaborate altars, others can be as plain as a candle with a few objects or photos. Whatever reminds us to take a few breaths, or encourages us to bring mindfulness into our lives throughout the day can be an altar object. Along with photos and images of my teachers and loved ones, I have a few Quan Yin statues, a being who is said to generate loving kindness, 'she who hears the cries of the world.' For me, it is a reminder to leave my heart open to suffering in all its forms. As Pema Chodron calls it, our 'soft spot.' With mindfulness, we are asking to see clearly what is before us, to inhabit our actual lives, to live authentically with what is.
By Beth Coyote, she/her, LM