Jacinta Tynan stepped in at late notice – many good karmic blessings – to offer the second perspective on Raising Enlightened Children. Tynan is a newsreader with Sky News, previously with ABC TV. She is the author of Good Man Hunting (Random House) and a Sunday Life columnist who learnt to meditate when her first child was in utero. Today, she is the proud mother of two and comes to Soul Sessions to tell us how her meditation practice affects the way she deals with her job as a mum on the frontline.
There are two major things that I put off in my life if I could narrow it down. They were becoming a mom and learning to meditate and they were both for similar reasons actually. They were both because I didn’t think I’d be any good at either of them. I tried to meditate for about twenty years, on and off. I did, you know, a Buddhist meditation course at 21 and it’s not for me. I tried CDs and find my mind wandering, you know. All the things probably all of us here has done and tried various courses and just keep getting that instruction. All you do now is close your eyes and meditate and we’ll wake you in an hour and I hated it. I kept thinking about all the things I had to do and I never ever was able to switch off. So I just thought I’m not one of those people, those meditation people. Would be nice but I’m not one of them. My mind goes a hundred miles an hour, always will and I’ll just have to accept that. But coincidentally, or not, i know my meditation teacher Tim Brown says there is no such thing as a coincidence, but so synchronoustically, I ended up doing both at the same time. Becoming a mom and finally learning to meditate and I think that the overlap was not coincidental. I learned to meditate when I was about five months pregnant, as I’ve always said.
Now, the reason I put off being a mom for as long as I did, as you have known, there’s always longer but that is pushing it, pushing that fertility window. It wasn’t only because I haven’t met the right man, although I did write a book about that as you heard. But that is a handy excuse it was something else I was able to
say, oh I just haven’t met the right man. I was able to justify a whole lot of things but mostly it was actually because I hadn’t found the right time. I think I had a career to think of. So many women say this and it’s a career in television, journalism that isn’t traditionally accommodating of motherhood. But that wasn’t really true either. The timing was also a rather convenient justification. Not just for myself but also for those people who had
started to put on the pressure about why I haven’t met someone. But on a deeper level and not that I have admitted it to anyone and hardly even myself, it was because I wasn’t sure I was up for the job.
Motherhood to me was for other women like meditation was for other people. It was for women who were natural nurturers, you know, those women who cooked all their lives. They had their homes in emotional states of good order and they’ve done that since their late teens. Me, I felt that I was really just starting out on my own quest for inner peace. I didn’t think that I could be responsible for somebody else’s happiness when I was still
very much in the early days of doing that myself. I wrote an article at the time, I think I was probably about 38,
for Madison Magazine and that was called Mother Doubts. It was about my inadequacies I felt to mother another.
I write “I’m not afraid of the inevitable onslaught of sleeplessness dis-organization in career disruption. Of that I have been well warned. Nor do I walk at the whole philosophical shift of handing over my life to someone else. After 38 years of self obsession, bring it on! It’s just that, am i allowed to say this, I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it. If only I had more time to prepare.”
So that’s why I’m glad we actually have a deadline. Women. And women curse that deadline but I think if we didn’t have that I know that I’d probably would still be biding my time. We know the deadline, of course, isn’t finite. There’s this subtle whip cracking after that magical age of 35 when we’re told we can’t loiter on the sidelines forever. But I just kept hoping I had a lot more time because I needed to get ready. I had a lot of adapting to do and I was really relieved when I did get pregnant that I still had eight months.
So what happened to me was when I got pregnant, which luckily for us happened quite quickly. I was knocked for six by the most debilitating all day sickness. If only it had just been the morning. It was not morning sickness to me. I threw up several times a day and was sea sick for the rest of the day and just couldn’t get past it and the only thing I could get up for was to go to work. Even then that was tough. I literally would be reading the news and as soon as the sports bloke would come on with his sport I’d run out of it and throw up.
I mention this because the reason this is relevant here today is that I think this all day sickness, as they say that it’s hormonal and randomly strikes and medical professionals and other mothers will tell you, that it’s not your fault. You’re just one of those people that got the morning sickness but I think that the this was nature’s way
of protecting me from this trepidation because it was the ultimate resistance really. I was rendered virtually immobile. I had my room to think. I was in shutdown mode. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to, whip myself up about my fears about mothering because I was just in the here and now. I was literally just surviving and so I think that’s why I had that.
So I did this introduction to meditation with, you know with all my attempts 3 years earlier with Tim Brown. But I haven’t followed through because again I went, “that’s not for me, I can’t do that.” I’m just one of those people that can’t do that but it was always on the back of my mind. So as I said, when I was pregnant I went along and I asked him, is meditation going to be any good for pregnancy and motherhood?
Well that was an understatement.
Tim whose a father of three assured me that if I practiced twice a day, 20 minutes at a pop which seemed like an eternity when he told me that. But you realize soon enough that it’s actually nothing. We pass those 20 minutes doing nothing. Reading a magazine or picking up after the kids it just goes like that. So might as well make it useful. But he said that if I did that I would increase my chances of enjoying motherhood and
and as a bonus I would score a second baby. He promised me that.
If I was to do this now while the baby’s still in my womb, he explained to me, and this is interesting, the science behind it that when someone meditates, with correct guidance of course, the body moves away from flight-fight chemistry. The adrenaline and the cortisol, to the production of serotonin and dopamine thats welding
healing chemistry. Of course when that flows through the mother to be, well he says even the attempting mother whose trying to get pregnant, it opens the mind and body to willingly have this experience of pregnancy childbirth and child rearing and that is what happened to me. He said that I would quite possibly get a healthy settled baby in the process so bring it on! It was worth a shot.
I wanted to try it so once I was given my mantra and started the course it all seemed really easy and I thought I must be doing something wrong! It’s not meant to be this easy but I was assured anything we can do wrong is to resist. So I kept at pushing through after my second lessons. I haven’t even started meditating yet but just had a lesson. The teeth grinding I’ve been doing for years and years. I just spent three hundred dollars on a mouth guard literally the week before because I had enough of that stopped like that and has never returned. I felt instant relief. I felt more positive and most importantly I started, as I mentioned, to get excited about becoming a mother.
The other thing that happened was that during that first week of meditation, that first lesson, the baby
inside me spoke to me for the first time. I’m coming out the session, and again it was just my learning to meditate session, that’s how quickly it all started to happen. I had a complete letter in my head from the baby
to its daddy, I didn’t know the baby’s sex at the time and it was about how it couldn’t wait to sit on top of its daddy’s shoulders and grip his hair. Makes me emotional thinking about it and so I came out of that session and it was very clear. The words was so clear and I just sat down and write it all out for the baby’s daddy
and I felt like I’m sure so many of you have had this experience. I really felt like it wasn’t my words
even though I’m the writer. They were coming from somewhere else. It was not my letter. So I gave that to his dad and, makes me emotional again, but then he needed to hear that at the time as well, you know, so it was all that channeling that was meant to happen. That was, as I said when I was still learning to meditate. So much more to come!
Surely not every mother has to meditate, I’ll be damned. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and not everyone finds the right teacher. And like me, people just sometimes don’t get it and think it’s for someone else but I do think the thing is it is possible for all of us. Every single one of us, to have a delightful parenting experience. We just have to want that and we have to allow it and parenting is a great teacher. It gives us that undeniable access to elements of enlightenment. You don’t need meditation to get it. For example, motherhood keeps us in the
As all parents would know, there’s no better way to be present than to be at someone’s beckon call
and to be responsible for this other person. I’m a woman who morphed literally from reluctant mom-to-be to an all-embracing earth mother of two and I can honestly say and I’m not ashamed to say it, and I shouldn’t be ashamed to say it but I have not had one moment, not one moment, with my two babies and I’ve got two little ones under 19-months of willing time away. I’ve not had one moment of resenting the disruption to my life. I had someone say to me when I had the first baby you will resent that cry. I don’t resent it. I love it. I love the sound of my baby’s cries because it just means that they need us. That’s all they’re saying. I don’t resent being up all night. I don’t resent my career been put on hold. This is the most enriching, magical experience.
I know that there’ll come a time when I would give anything to be back holding my babies in my arms again. When my two boys forget to ring me and they’ve grown up and they’re doing their own thing, I would love to be just holding them. So while I’m in the thick of it, right now I’m on the front line, I am gonna relish every moment. And that’s what I’m doing. That’s what I’m hoping other mothers can learn to do as well. I’m surprising myself in all of that but I’ve learned that we choose how we react. It’s not what happens. So many people said to me you just got an easy baby.
No he’s normal.
But I choose how to react to it when he pulls everything out the garbage bin or puts the camera in the griller like he did the other day. Or he smears banana on the walls, we know what they do, I’m not gonna wish that away. I’m going to laugh at that. I do laugh at that and I’m going to enjoy that because I’m gonna want that back one day. None of this would have worked without meditation. I know it’s an option for the soul but we have that access to just all getting into the moment with parenthood. I know that we feel like we’re doing this for us as parents so that we can cope for our own sanity, to stop us wanting to lock ourselves in the cupboards. Also for the benefit of our children. If we’re conscious parents we’re gonna have conscious children. I can’t wait to see. I look with great interest to see what impact it’s going to have on mine as they grow up.
I just hope they don’t do it too quickly, but I wait for that moment.
Before we go to a break, I was just wondering if anyone would like to ask a question. I just wanted to ask what kind of meditation you do because I know a lot of people need to know if TM or Ayurvedic meditation. Is that the same meditation?
Yeah, TM. Anyone whose let with Tim Brown would know, I do twenty
minutes, well in theory.
When do you do it?
Well now I’m doing the mothers program which is just a word for “it’s whenever I can find a minute.” I used
to do twenty minutes twice a day when I was pregnant and when I could. Now I’m doing twenty minutes a day
and probably missing about 3 a week and then I’m doing, you know, I go “I got five minutes I’ll do that”.
Because you know with the two and I just can’t determine when he’s going to want to be fed and, you know, so I’m meditating whenever I can.
Where and when would you meditate?
Where and when? Right now I’m in a different space because I’m in new mother mode so I’d snatch the moment. If the baby drops off to sleep anytime the day I’ll just go and if the other one’s asleep then I quickly do it. But let’s say before all of that, when I was pregnant and when I was pregnant with Otis, I would do it when I woke up. So 20 minutes then. You’re not supposed to do it before you go to bed but I would often do it then.
Does it keep you awake if you try to do it before you go to bed?
No I don’t find that. I fall asleep during it. I think you’re meant not to do it so close to bedtime for that reason but unfortunately that’s the only time I can find right now. You gotta be opportunistic and in my job as a news presenter we’re on our money for six hours a day with breaking news so I don’t really get breaks but every now and then they’ll give you a break because of the press conference or because there’s a political program that i got do and I will go to the makeup room, I don’t have a make up artist by the way, I do my own. Just to make that clear. I would go in, sit in there and shut the door and meditate. In a newsroom. I just have to. It’s the only time that I’ve got.
That’s the good thing is you can do it anywhere.
I really I love that story. The whole thing was so amazing but I really love and I don’t know if you think the same thing but sometimes I think having a baby gives you a gift. Almost like all of that morning sickness got you that gift of meditation. You know what I mean? I was reading this thing tonight about my kids something that I’d written to them saying thank you for rescuing me. I feel like they have rescued me. Making me slow down, stop partying and being so selfish.
I remember when I had that bout of depression my mother said to me, if you have children you wouldn’t have to do this. You have to get out of bed. You wouldn’t have a chance. Of course anybody who’s had depression would know that that’s not that easy just to snap out of it but it’s certainly true for now. I can’t imagine myself getting depressed again because I have every reason to get up and and to have a purpose in life.
Just would not come inside today it was cold. He wouldn’t come in and I had the baby in there crying needing me and so running between the two and you can open the gate and get out on the road. I got masking type I thought that I was so smart. Wrapped around the things I could so it wouldn’t open and I could stay out there. But I’m just so worried because you know. And he kept coming to the door and like “moooooommy!” So I’d come out and he wouldn’t come in. It just kept going and I thought
I was going to lose it and was like “for God’s sake! Would you get inside!” And so I thought, this is beautiful, look at him. Look at him at the door. I do that. I shift into it. Just look at this moment, get into the moment.
How do you do that? Do you go to your heart space?
It’s just decision. Isn’t it?
Do you think that comes from meditation?
Yeah, I do.
So it’s almost like practice. Like the way you brush your teeth. The stronger it is and less decay. The more you meditate you get into that space more quickly. Since I started meditating I know that thing I would normally react to, I wouldn’t really think about that. Now overreacting in a certain way but then comes the judgment and I’m mad at myself because I know better that they say. Then I’m practicing that trying not to do what you think. Do you know what I mean? So I was just wondering if there’s a little trick to get to it quickly. Because I’m still yelling.
Yeah it’s just a decision.
Get in here you little boggers!
Thank you so much… Thank you.