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Zen for Adventure Parents: How to Start a 2-Minute Meditation Habit


IMG_2864[photo: katie arnold]

With two high-energy rippers in our house, I’ve been trying to figure out how to slow down a little. Last week I posted some suggestions about traveling locally and scheduling fewer activities. Meditating is the obvious way to go, of course. It’s been shown to lower blood pressure, improve concentration and self control, and promote well-being, but not everybody has time to sit in stillness for 30 minutes a day.

I’ve tried meditating during my regularly scheduled life, like while I’m giving my girls a bath, but I usually only get in one or two deep breaths before I have to break up a naked toddler wrestling match. And while running or riding the trails can feel transcendent, the truth is, I’m usually too busy paying attention to my body and breathing (not to mention my iPod) to sink into the slow, mindfulness I crave. What I’ve realized is that as busy, active parents, we need time and space alone, in relative stillness, to find our ommm. 

Not much time, though. Try two minutes a day.

That’s what Zen parenting guru Leo Babauta prescribes in his latest post on And Leo would know. He’s a marathoner, vegan triathlete, one of Time Magazine’s top bloggers, and father of six kids. Yeah, the guy’s busy. But not too busy to develop a simple daily meditation practice. You can, too, if you follow his easy tips, including:

1. Commit to just 2 minute a day: If this is all you can manage, you’re still ahead of the game, but if you can slowly build up to five minutes, then 10, over the course of a month or a year, all the better. 

1. Pick a time and a trigger: Choosing roughly the same time each day will help make the habit stick.

3. Sit comfortably: Don’t obsess over stick-straight posture or the buckwheat zafu cushion you think you need. Just sit. A park bench or quiet corner of the cafe will do the trick.  

4. Focus on your breath. Counting inhale and exhales helps. Go to 10, then start over.

A friend of mine who has two grown kids (operative word: grown), and happens to be one of the most frenetic adventure addicts I know, has started sitting in stillness for 20 minutes each day. I picture him, tranced out under a tree, legs folded up lotus style, radiating pure calm. Well, mostly. Some days are harder than others, but the bottom line is that he feels an immediate peacefulness in his daily life when he reins himself in, shuts up, and just sits still. Like Leo, he cuts himself a lot of slack. You might not have 30 minutes to spare yet either, but I’m guessing you have two. Try it. I'm going to, too. And who knows, maybe the kids will even catch on.

For more tips, read Leo’s full post at

—Katie Arnold

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