This isn’t your average, annoying podcast about meditation and how easy and transformative it is, and how it only takes thirty minutes and day and any mom can find that time blah blah blah. Instead, my friend Jeanine walks us through a task-filled meditation that is quick, practical, and do-able – you could even do it in the school pick-up line or while waiting at gymnastics practice. I don’t know if it’s okay to laugh during meditation, but we did. Jeanine also educates us about how and why meditation works, and she details the specific moments it’s the right tool for, which is basically all parenting moments. We also talk about the importance of boundaries – and why meditation helps with creating them, I realize a deep truth about moms who love crafting, and Jeanine once again proves she’s the child whisperer with her peaceful parenting shit that actually makes good sense.
Brandy: Hey everyone. Okay so listen, this isn’t your average, annoying podcast about meditation and how easy and transformative it is, and it only takes 30 minutes a day and any mom can find that time, blah, blah, blah. This one is quick, doable – you could even do it in the school pickup line or while waiting in a gymnastics practice. And the meditation keeps you busy rather than sitting there judging yourself for why you’re not breathing right. It has meditation tasks, so dare I say it’s practical? And you will feel better afterwards, maybe even high, and possibly more patient as a mother. So join me and my friend, Jeanine, as she walks us through a meditation that you can quickly do yourself whenever you need it. I don’t know if it’s okay to laugh during meditation, but we do. Jeanine also educates us about how and why meditation works and she details the specific moments that it’s the right tool for, which is basically all annoying parenting moments. We also talk about boundaries and why meditation helps with creating those. I then realize a deep truth about moms who love crafting, and Jeanine once again proves that she’s the child whisperer with her peaceful parenting shit that actually makes good sense.
Brandy: And how could I let you forget about supporting me on Patreon? That’s www.patreon.com/adultconversation, where you can help support a mom (hi, me) with her side gig of bringing you quality content while also entertaining her kids this summer. It’s chump change really, about what you’d spend on the Target Dollar Spot to bribe your kids. But instead you’re bribing me. Okay, find a quiet-ish space if you can, but it’s not required. Onto the show.
Brandy: So I want to welcome today’s guest, my friend Jeanine Tiemeyer. So Jeanine and I are sort of new friends, but you wouldn’t know it. When we met, day two we knew each other’s inner truths – secrets I would even say. You have so many interesting sides to you, and I was lucky enough to know that kind of off the bat because we somehow felt comfortable enough to do that. So our daughters go to kindergarten together. That’s how we met. And we live close by. So we walk to school together. One of the things that I feel like you listeners need to know about Jeanine is, you are the person I think about when I’m about to lose it on my kids. And I think “what would Jeanine do?” I would think WWJD. You have a way of being so kind and so thoughtful, and yet you have boundaries.
Jeanine: That’s sweet. Regarding the boundaries thing, I felt like those are hard won because my inclination is not to have boundaries, and it was motherhood that made them show up because all of a sudden things were changing. It cracks me up that you think about “what would Jeanine do?” because that’s one of the things that a lot of people say to me in life, and I’ve never really understood it.
Brandy: Oh my gosh. It’s because you have this way with your kids and all kids. And granted you have a background in education, and I think I remember you saying you worked at a Waldorf school, so not even just education but gentle education.
Jeanine: Yeah, it was a Montessori Preschool that I worked in.
Brandy: My daughter’s melting down and I’m like, “Fucking kids.” And you’re like, “Are you having a hard time?” You go and validate and you do all these things that I see come through my Facebook feed about gentle, kind parenting that I just want to rail against. But you’re lovely. You’re not an asshole, better than anybody, you’re not one of those parents that’s judging other parents. You’re just a fucking nice ass person. So that’s who you are in my life. You also say hi to every single person you see. When I’m with you, we are saying good morning to a thousand people. Which by the way, you probably don’t know this about me, but I don’t want anything to do with saying hi to people that I don’t really know. I’m fine to do the “hey” to the guy who just walking by. But when I used to go to church for those six months when I was a kid and my parents thought they were Catholic, that part where you have to turn and say “peace be with” you to people…
Jeanine: Was that your nightmare?
Brandy: Oh my God, why are we doing this? Peace be with me if I don’t have to do “peace be with you.” It was just the anti. So anyway, you push me out of my comfort zone and it’s a beautiful thing because everybody at school, all the parents, all the kids, they know they have an ally in you. I feel like the listeners need to know the caliber of human being we’re talking to today. So that’s what I think people need to know about you. But what do you think is important for the listeners to know about you?
Jeanine: I really love figuring out what makes people tick. I like looking beyond the surface. I like saying, “Good morning, How are you?” and then not stopping at “I’m fine.”
Brandy: I know, I’ve noticed.
Jeanine: You know all this stuff that you’re talking about when I see kids who are in distress, it’s not that they’re trying to have a hard time. It’s that everybody’s doing the best they can. I look at people and I feel like people are so disconnected as a general rule these days. I think I choose to be an agent of chaos in the world where people refuse to connect with each other. Sadly, I don’t think that what I do should be unusual or subversive. And yet somehow based on the reactions that I get and the fact that people call me things like their conscience. I think this is just decency. I try to be kind. That’s it. When a kid is in trouble, I want to look at them and see them as people. I see their behavior as communication. I don’t see their behavior as something to be … molded yes, they have to know what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate. And I am pretty strict about making sure that the kids have really good manners, but it’s all towards becoming better humans. I’ve tried really hard. I go way far out of my way to try to keep people comfortable and to find ways to help people belong.
Brandy: Damn, you’re a good person. You just are. And there’s another piece of this, I guess this is a good time to bring up one of the things that we want to do here today. So Jeanine doesn’t like to drop the H-bomb, but I will, which is that she graduated from Harvard with a master’s. You’re very gentle and kind, and then you’re also very logical and left-brained. So usually I feel like we see some of those “peace on earth,” “we’re all in this together” things with a really flowy personality. And you don’t have that stereotypically flowy personality. You’re kind of sciency and left-brained. So it’s a really neat mix. One of the reasons I wanted to have you on here is that you teach meditation, and you have been studying meditation for how many years?
Jeanine: I don’t even care to count anymore. About the H-bomb, the Harvard thing. I went there because I was reading all this stuff about human development, how people think and all that. I love science. I’m such a science geek. I love space science,I love brain science, I love all kinds of science, but I see that as a source of inspiration and a source of really great questions and all that kind of stuff. Then the meditation piece comes in because what I thought I was looking for at Harvard with understanding people, understanding what makes people tick, and what the approach is to just being a human. How do you understand people, what’s your philosophy on behavior and all that kind of stuff? I was looking really hard to find those kinds of answers and I thought I was going to find them there.
Jeanine: Curiously enough, I had time to be in a couple of other organizations, so I joined the Buddhist club and I would sit there with the monks and meditate at the divinity school, as well as studying all this really left-brained science. And ultimately, I think I got more out of sitting and really looking hard at what was on the inside, what were the things that hold me back personally. And then looking around at the world in new ways.
Brandy: Am I hearing you right that you think you possibly got more out of the meditation aspect of it than you got out of the actual coursework?
Jeanine: Because the coursework was interesting, but it’s very intellectual. I think what I was looking for was a container for the intellectual. I mean, I’m going to go really meta on this for a second.
Brandy: Sure, go for it.
Jeanine: Because the intellectualism, it gets you so far. You have to put things in a line and I don’t think that’s the way brains work. So my experience of all of that was well, you can do research until the cows come home. But really, how am I supposed to live my life with this information?
Brandy: Thank you. Seriously, yes, just thank you for that. Because we see things all the time that “Our study shows that…” Whatever X thing. And then it’s like yeah, but we can’t live like that.
Jeanine: Yes. I love research for its own sake, but then I kind of want it to have some sort of reason that you did that research in the first place. I want a takeaway. I want something that’s practical to come out of all that stuff. So I think a combination of the intellectual approach with lots of reading and learning what other people said. When I was a teenager, I picked up a book on self-hypnosis. And the thing that got me in that moment was holy crap, I can reprogram some of this because I have all these habits. And I totally agree with my parents on X, Y, and Z, but I totally disagree with them on some of these other things. Yet somehow, I feel like their scripts are in my head.
Brandy: Right. This is like in the birth work that I do, we talk about passing down your agreements. And a visual that I always thought is when you’re young and you’re growing up in your childhood, it’s like you have this suitcase and your parents keep stuffing these papers in there that say “a good girl does this”-
Jeanine: Oh my gosh, yes.
Brandy: Or “we believe that this is true, this is bad, this is good.” And they keep stuffing them in there and stuffing them in there. And then when you leave home when you’re 18, you’ve got this heavy suitcase. And most of us don’t know that a really helpful thing would be to unzip that suitcase, and read through all of them, and take out the ones that you don’t agree with, and keep the ones that you do, right?
Jeanine: This is why we’re friends, because that right there in a nutshell is to me what meditation does that I never found anything in the other intellectual literature that would really be as effective. I did therapy and that was great, but that was different than meditation. Because in meditation, you don’t have someone else asking you the questions. You’re deciding what to ask. You’re deciding what to look at. You’re deciding everything for yourself. But also starting to look below the surface of “Wow, okay. This is one inclination. This is a different inclination. Those two things don’t agree. Where do I stand on this?” So to have some sort of framework for tools that can get you past the brain loop, these are my habits. How do I get out of this? You get yourself caught in these little patterns. And for me, the key to unlocking the patterns was not reading more books on child and adult development. For me the key was sitting in a room by myself, and finding a way to grapple with the things that I was genuinely most afraid of, and the things that genuinely inspired me.
Brandy: That sounds delightful.
Jeanine: Oh my gosh.
Brandy: That sounds pretty balls to the wall.
Jeanine: When I do that, there’s something that happens I think with the brain chemistry. You slow down, you breathe, you get this whole other effect. And it’s been well studied now. I mean there’s tons of research. You can go find it. You don’t even have to search far on whatever search engine you like. There’s something that happens in the brain where maybe back in the day people stared into the fire at night and thought about what they were going to do the next day or – there’s this level of where you talk with your subconscious brain. That’s the part where I feel like the really good meat and potatoes happens when it comes to either child development, adult development, any of that. When you have a way of saying to your bigger or deeper or whatever you want to call it, self, “I’m not cool with what’s going on right now in this head of mine. What am I going to do about it?”
Brandy: This is one of the reasons that I brought you on here. I have learned about meditation. It’s part of the birth work I do, and some of the things that I’ve taught for the last eight years. I’ve tried it for myself. I’ve read books about it. And yet when I met you, you were doing meditation classes so I immediately was like yes, sign me up for that.
Jeanine: And you showed up too.
Brandy: I did. You had a such a unique way of speaking about it that it wasn’t woo woo, you kind of opened my eyes to how meditation, and this is going to sound terrible, is a tool for control or imagined control. And I like that. But it’s a very grounded way to get in touch with what is happening in your energetic field. And also, energy – I feel like, some people hear that and they go, “Woo woo, this is weird. Energy it’s not real.”
Brandy: But when you talk about it, you are coming from such a left-brained place and talking about rewiring a brain. And that’s different than we’re going to go put on some Hammer pants and sit cross-legged and chant together. So I was immediately drawn to it because anything to me that’s effective or that has that left brain side… I like the mix of both because there is an element of meditation and energy that is more right-brained. But the container in which you put it in or you learn about it being left-brained I think is helpful for people. So you have done such a great job at making it really accessible and digestible. While we were meditating, you had tasks we were doing. And to me, that felt really great to know there are some guardrails on this thing – I’m not out here floating around, and it felt amazing. I brought you here today to teach us kind of what you taught that night that I first learned it. Something that can be done in the pickup line.
Jeanine: Fantastic. I’d love to. All right, so I’m going to ask you guys to be sitting up as in not lying down someplace because when people are lying down for meditation, they very often just fall asleep. And especially if you’re sleep deprived, especially if you’re a human.
Brandy: Right, a parent. Also known as parent.
Jeanine: Yeah, sitting up is good. So find a chair that fits you kind of comfy. You can do it sitting up on the edge of your bed. We’re not going to be here all that long. And then feet on the floor is really great too because it makes you connected. You’ll see why in just a second.
Jeanine: So sitting in your chair, I invite you to close your eyes, if you’re in a position where you can do that. Please don’t do this while you’re driving.
Brandy: And also I just appreciate your use of, “I invite you to close your eyes.” I know that when I was learning this, that’s the nice way of saying, “Close your fucking eyes.” It’s a nice way of saying, “I’m not going to tell you what to do because in meditation, we don’t tell you what to do. But you would really benefit a lot better if you closed your eyes. So close your fucking eyes.” Not while you’re driving.
Jeanine: You said it, not me.
Brandy: I invite you to not scream in my face after school because you’re cranky. I’m just inviting you.
Jeanine: Oh my gosh.
Brandy: Anyway, okay.
Jeanine: So yeah, if you don’t want to close your eyes, fine, whatever.
Brandy: Fine, be a dick. Don’t close your eyes. But the rest of us will just be over here experiencing ecstasy while you and your fucking eyes are wide open. Okay.
Jeanine: Are you quite done yet?
Brandy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeanine: Are you sure?
Brandy: I’m done. Okay.
Jeanine: All right. So now that you’ve had a good laugh and you’re sitting in your chair, you notice you are breathing. What, I’m breathing? Yup, you’re breathing.
Jeanine: Be aware that you actually have personal space. What, personal space? I know. If you’re a mom, you’ve forgot about personal space. If you’ve got a baby nursing or something like that, it’s not a problem. You can still have your space. But we’re going to imagine that that space goes around your whole body, kind of like a little egg. And it goes about an arm’s length to the right and left of you, about an arms length to the front and back of you. About an arms length up over your head. Then you might have noticed that this is kind of an imaginary exercise, so we’re not really worried about things like chairs, or tables, or floors. So you’re going to imagine that your personal space extends about an arm’s length below your feet.
Jeanine: And you can be aware that you have this personal space just because you are. You exist, and so does it. And now inside that personal space, you may notice that you’ve collected some stuff to carry with you along the way. So in order to give yourself a little bit more personal space or give yourself a better quality personal space, we’re going to imagine that you have one of those big yellow car-washing sponges in your hand, in your imaginary hand. And we’re going to use that car-washing sponge to clean out the inside of your personal space bubble.
Jeanine: So grab that sponge and start at it. And the really interesting thing is that I have yet to meet someone whose sponge didn’t get icky. So when you’re cleaning the windows in front of you, just notice when that sponge is getting full of whatever clutter you’re ready to get rid of, and send that sponge outside your bubble and watch it explode into fireworks.
Brandy: I imagine it exploding into glitter. Just FYI. You can do what you want here. This is kind of like a choose your own.
Jeanine: Oh, absolutely. A little more fun, a little more creativity makes it so much better. And then you can give yourself a brand new sponge and clean out the area down in front of your knees, down under your feet. You may find that you need 10 sponges. I leave it to your discretion when you toss them out and explode them. And the reason we toss them out and explode them is because in your mind that’s “I don’t really need that anymore.” And it’s okay with me if that gets recycled. So you just explode it. The sponge I mean, not yourself.
Brandy: Uh oh.
Jeanine: Too late.
Brandy: Meditation gone wrong.
Jeanine: So now because this is your personal space bubble, you can imagine that there are handles on the inside and we’re going to use those handles and spin them back around to the front. And then we’re going to do the same clean-out on this side of your personal space bubble. So use that sponge for the top half, to the right and left. And then maybe grab yourself a new sponge to use for under your feet.
Jeanine: And notice if the windows look any different than they did before you started. And one thing I really, really love about this is that once you start to get this personal space cleaned out a little bit, you might notice that it’s easier to breathe.
Jeanine: And then when you’re done with this part of it, you can send that sponge out and let it explode. And then we’re going to let the bubble go back to the way that it likes to be. So front in the front, back in the back. So you’re comfortable inside. This is just your little bubble of peace for right now.
Jeanine: When you’re in there, you can notice that you can feel what gravity feels like on your body. There’s that gentle pull that holds you down on the ground. I’d like you to give that feeling of visual. So we’re going to put a connection from the base of your spine all the way down to the center of the earth. Some people like to use a tree trunk, which I find particularly effective – goes way down deep, puts roots down in the ground. You can experiment with different images. If you want to use a rainbow instead, that’s fine with me.
Brandy: Like the woman who used a tampon string. Can we just talk about that for just one second?
Jeanine: Not quite from the base of the spine though. That’s why I say base of spine now.
Brandy: So you made that change after her?
Jeanine: It never occurred to me that the tampon string was the way you would ground yourself.
Brandy: Sorry, I love that moment.
Jeanine: That pretty funny. I’m so glad you were there for that, because no one else would have appreciated it the way you do. Okay, so now that we’ve completely got you out of your meditation space. How fast can you find it? So you’re in your personal space, and from the base of your spine, in other words, the back of your back, you have a connection to the center of the Earth, whatever way you like to visualize that. That connection with the earth is the thing you can use to let go of any stress that you find in your body. So if you see that you’re holding tension in your shoulders for example, you can give it a color. And then just imagine watching that color slide down that grounding cord.
Jeanine: And that can be sort of an automatic process anytime you need it. “Oh, okay. I’m just going to ground off that bit of stress. I’m going to ground off that bit of anxiety. I’m going to ground off that tension in this muscle.” Or pain. You can give that pain a color, whatever color you would imagine it to be. And just watch it go down the grounding.
Jeanine: And now, I’m going to switch gears a little bit and we’re going to give you an imaginary washcloth. And that imaginary washcloth is going to go in one ear, and you’re going to let it go through the center of your head. And then with your imaginary fingers, you can pull it out the other ear, send it outside your personal space, take a look at it and say, “Wow, I didn’t know there was so much gunk in my head.” And then you’re going to explode it. Poof.
Jeanine: And now up over the top of your head, I’d like you to imagine a gold sun. This sun is just for you and you get to set what you would like in there. So some people like clarity, some people like kindness. You can let that sun radiate to your own intentions. And I’m also going to have you do one other really fun thing with your sun, which is imagine there’s a magnet in that sun. And we’re going to call back any parts of your attention that are working on problems in the past, or in the future, or any part of you that’s anywhere other than here. And just watch all those pieces magnetized into that gold sun up over your head. This is just collecting up your attention.
Jeanine: And see what that looks like to you. Maybe it has a color, or a quality, or a texture to it. And then once that looks like it’s pretty well collected, we’re going to let that sun radiate into your personal space. But we’re actually going to let it do even more than that. We’re going to let it fill up your physical space too. So we’re going to let that sunlight kind of like, I don’t know, liquid. Liquid sunlight. Goes all the way through the top of your head, down to your toes. And we’re going to let it start to fill you up. Through your feet, through your ankles, to the bottom part of your legs. Up through your knees, upper part of the leg, through the hips, into the belly and your back. Let it fill up your chest, and then down to your fingertips, your hands, your arms. All the way to your shoulders. The back of your neck. All the way up into your head. Notice your face filling up. Let’s give some of the good stuff to your brain. And you can also fill in your personal space.
Jeanine: So this gold sun is kind of like the real sun. It just keeps radiating. And you’re going to let that fill in every place where you cleaned out yucky stuff. And we’re going to let you fill it in with all this fresh energy. And when that’s getting nice and full, then you can just turn down the flow. But that gold sun will sit up there and radiate to you whatever qualities you like, all day long.
Jeanine: So at the edge of your personal space, you have a boundary. Right about at arm’s length on either side, in front behind. And I love to use the image of a grounded rose, a rose with a big long stem that goes down in the earth. And the job of that rose is whenever someone’s coming at you and you can see that there’s going to be a “thing,” instead of letting them get in your head, you’re just going to put up that boundary and let that absorb any of the charge from whatever’s coming your way. So you can see that as a rose, whatever color you like. And I would imagine it huge, like a foot across with a big fat stem that goes down into the earth. You can have one rose in front of you or you can put a couple of roses on front and the back of you, whatever.
Jeanine: And I love to use this image because it’s beautiful, and it’s peaceful, usually calming. But it’s also got thorns on the stem, so it’s a little bit protective too. So you can have your space, you can have your boundaries. And then you can let that collect up any energy that might be coming at you. And I think that’s probably a good place to stop for a really nice and short meditation. So you can wiggle your toes and your fingers, feel your body. And when you’re all filled in and ready to, you can open your eyes and check in with yourself and notice how you feel. Are you asleep yet?
Brandy: Oh my God. I’m like, high as fuck right now. Yeah, it’s funny. Coming out of that just feels like the world is different.
Jeanine: There are many times when I do this exercise, and when I open my eyes, the world looks different to me.
Jeanine: Somehow I feel calm and collected. And how long does that really take? If I’m talking you through it in slow motion, it takes five or 10 minutes. But if you had a minute where you were like, “Okay, I need my space. I’m going to replenish myself,” that literally could take you 30 seconds.
Brandy: That’s how I’ve been using it. I’ve used it that way as well the way that we did today, but I’ve used it also if I notice that I have a feeling coming up like an anxiety or panic, or frustration. I kind of take a second, I find my egg, and I have this image. Sometimes I like to use a vacuum to suck the nasty stuff out. I get in there and I play is kind of what it feels like. I don’t know if you guys remember this thing, but there was something at Brookstone and it was this magnetic base. And it has all these little magnet pieces. They’re like little tiny diamonds and you can sculpt things. If you hold it and hold some of the magnets kind of close to it, they stick to it. So I imagine I’m holding this block, this magnetic block. And I’m just kind of shining it all around my egg and all this stuff is sucking to it. And then I stick my hand outside the egg and blow it up into glitter. Right? Like you do. Like one does.
Brandy: But I like it because it’s a quick thing when I feel like, “I’m having this overwhelming feeling,” or I wish I didn’t feel as frustrated or panicky about something or whatever. And I feel like I can just target that thing. Even sometimes I’ll think okay, where is that feeling? Where is that panicky feeling? Let me see if I can see it. It’s like what the fuck am I doing? I’m trying to see where this is, but if feels like the right thing to do. And then if I draw it out, whether it’s a vacuum or whether it’s this magnetic thing, and then I put it outside and pop it, it feels like it’s gone. That’s the control I’m talking about. And it’s probably two things. It’s probably a little bit placebo false, but it’s also energetically not false because I’m taking that feeling and my intention is to put it outside of myself and to have it go away. It could be both things, but regardless, it works.
Jeanine: And for clarity’s purposes, whether or not you actually believe that you’re getting rid of this thing, if it really belongs to you, you’re not getting rid of it. I mean if it’s a piece of you that you need or if it’s a piece of you that you’re working through that you have questions about, the intention is not that you’re going to escape from reality here.
Jeanine: The intention is that you’re taking out the stuff that’s distracting from whatever version of yourself you are choosing to be.
Brandy: Yes. So the roses in that, the rose that you have, there’s somebody that I have to put a couple up for. It’s just somebody who constantly talks at me and there’s not a lot I can do because they just have no idea that they do this. So I put a couple up and I just imagine them being drenched. And it helps me because then it’s not me being drenched. And then I don’t know if this is kosher – I don’t know if this is what I’m supposed to do, but when they feel really full, I explode them and bring new ones.
Jeanine: That is exactly what you’re supposed to do. You’ve nailed it. That is the picture, because the roses do get worn out. So if I get the phone call from someone who I know, and they’re just going to vent at me, I actually put a rose in the phone. I’ve got this rose in my phone and that’s grounded. So that person can just vent all they like, and that rose will take care of that energy. And any part of that that I need to pay attention to or that’s my responsibility, of course I can hear what’s going on. But I can choose whether I’m going to engage or not.
Brandy: From now when I call you, I’m going to say, “Put up a rose. Two roses deep.”
Jeanine: Yeah, but how great is it? So I teach my kids the tool. When you’re in a fight with somebody or things aren’t going very well, you just put a big fat rose up in the middle. So all the stuff that we are venting that we don’t really want to put in the other person’s space or we don’t really want that to get in our space. Boom, you’ve got this rose. Okay, you don’t have to take it personally, you can just see that this other person is upset. And being able to be with someone when they are upset is really helpful. Everybody just sometimes needs to vent. And this makes it totally okay for them to vent. And it also means that you’re not adding fuel on the fire while they’re venting because you’re not going to be like, “Yeah, and then” …
Brandy: Well if you’re me, you are.
Jeanine: But sometimes that’s fun and necessary and good, and sometimes you’re just not in the mood. And this is just a tool. It’s not like you can never go off on a full blown rant with your girlfriend. I mean no, that’s not the point.
Brandy: It’s a way to be a good listener and not have it negatively affect your energy space.
Jeanine: Yes, so that you don’t have to completely take it into yourself and then the rest of your day is spent trying to solve someone else’s problem.
Brandy: Has meditation been a catalyst for helping you set boundaries? Because I look at you as somebody who has really healthy boundaries.
Jeanine: (Laughs) And I remember when I went to college my freshman year, I had person after person tell me that I did not have personal space, that I didn’t have boundaries. I was really crappy at sticking up for myself. And yes, to answer your question in a short form, yes.
Brandy: What about it? What about meditation helped you find them?
Jeanine: You start to figure out that if you’re blowing in the wind, in everybody else’s wind all day every day, it’s a lot harder to get to the things that matter for you. For me, it was really important to have the idea that I did have personal space, that my body was under my care.
Jeanine: Before that, I think I was very much a child and I expected other people to take care of me. Because I had parents who were really, really good at doing that. And then all of a sudden I go to college and there isn’t someone looking out for me all the time. Unless you have some idea of where those boundaries are and what’s appropriate, it’s really, really hard to learn to take care of yourself. You don’t know what to pay attention to. Sure, you know when you’re hungry and you know when you need to do your laundry. But more than that, how do you manage your own energy?
Brandy: And it’s so interesting you’re saying this because many people who had kids on the younger side have probably had such a short time of learning that about themselves. And then all of a sudden, they’re thrust into caretaker for kids, which is different than caretaker for yourself. So this whole idea that we talk about self-care and setting boundaries as moms and having your own identity, that could be a concept that for some moms was just glossed over. So they never even found how to do this. And now they’re taking care of kids, and it gets confused. Even the most diligent boundary setter gets smeared.
Jeanine: And if you don’t have boundaries, that means that you don’t have available energy.
Brandy: It’s so basic, but it’s so big. So what are some things that you’ve specifically done to set boundaries with your kids?
Jeanine: I’m pretty good at finding little activities for them to work on, on their own, independently. So a great big Tupperware with macaroni noodles and a bunch of measuring spoons. That will occupy them for 15 minutes to a half an hour. So finding them things that are interesting and enriching for them, and setting those things up. I have an art section over in one room where it’s like this little Ikea cubby thing. There’s a Play-Doh box in the kitchen cupboard where I know that they can take it out, do their thing. And now that they’re kindergarten age and older, they can actually pick up after themselves and put it all away too.
Brandy: I know. That part’s amazing.
Jeanine: Yeah. It’s so good when they can finally do that. Maybe you have the kind of house where you can have them build forts. Just go, do your thing. And then they get themselves occupied. They’re learning, they’re manipulating. They’re doing something that’s awesome for them. And you can have that little bit of time to work on your thing.
Jeanine: And the other thing that I’ve found that’s been surprisingly helpful now that they’re slightly older, is “I’m working on a Mama project.” “What’s your project mama?” “I’m teaching people about meditation and I’m making an outline for myself of what I’m going to teach.” And they’re like, “That’s cool. Okay, bye.” And they have the expectation that when I’m working on my project, they need to go read a book, draw a picture, do whatever it is. And because of all of these years of practice setting boundaries, they’re actually really good at it. And they’re good at entertaining themselves, which I think is not as popular an art form as it used to be.
Brandy: For sure not.
Jeanine: Kids being really independent.
Brandy: I can’t even remember my parents playing with me almost ever. I can remember asking my mom to color with me maybe a couple times, and not to say that they didn’t play with me. I’m sure when I was a toddler, there was more of that. But I remember so much imaginary play on my own, making my own fun.
Jeanine: And kids love that.
Brandy: Yeah. Except of my two kids, my daughter will play and make up scenarios. And my son just never did that. He always wanted engagement. So it is tricky when – so I grew up having this independence and playing alone and then to have a child who won’t do it. It’s like sometimes you can help them along, but he’s never really been good at doing that. Whereas I parented my daughter in much of the same way and she’s great at it.
Jeanine: So sometimes it’s all down to personality. You know what works for your kids. If the screen time is the only thing that works for them, you could even say, “Work on this project for 20 minutes, and then you can have some screen time.” And then look at that, you get a whole hour out of it.
Brandy: Yeah, right. That’s a nice balance. So walk us through this shit hits the fan scenario at your house where your kids have poked your last nerve. Just needled it, and where you need a minute. So what do you say? Where do you go? What about when they come up and bang on the door? How does that go?
Jeanine: Oh man, lately we’ve been resorting to jumping jacks.
Brandy: You or the kids?
Jeanine: The kids. “You guys are fighting with each other all day long. Here, how about every time you fight you do 25 jumping jacks.” And they laugh so hard, they forget what they’re fighting about and they usually get along.
Brandy: Okay. That sounds like a mind game that I can get behind.
Jeanine: The thing is when they’re coming at me and I’m at my last nerve, I’m usually tired or hungry, or something like that. And sometimes I just tell them. I’m like, “Look, I’m really, really done. And I don’t want to be grumpy or angry anymore, but I’m there. So I really need you to help me here.” And I find that I get a lot of help out of that.
Brandy: If you need a minute to go take a second to meditate, do you do it with them in the room or do you go somewhere so they aren’t in your space?
Jeanine: I very much prefer to go someplace where they’re not in my space. That being said, if I tell them what I’m doing, very often they’ll want to meditate too.
Brandy: So that brings me to my next question. Do your kids meditate? Have you taught them? And what is that like?
Jeanine: It’s so fun.
Brandy: I’m assuming they do.
Jeanine: Yes. It’s so much fun, because they love the creativity. So I teach them about meditation when we’re going to bed at night. So have a couple of deep breaths. Give yourself your personal space.
Brandy: And they know about the egg, and the grounding cord, and all of this stuff? They’re pros at this I’m sure.
Jeanine: They absolutely love it. We even go so far as to … so when we’re in our meditation space, they get themselves in their bubble with their grounding cord and they’re like, “Okay, now what? Now we’re going to have some fun.” So they’ll put a bubble around their classroom at school and put a grounding cord on their classroom at school. And they make the most interesting observations about the classroom dynamics or what their teacher likes or doesn’t like. Imagining the bubble around the classroom gives them a chance to process a part of their experience from school that is maybe different than what they would see during the day. And then sometimes we send I love you bubbles. So you can imagine a little soap bubble and we put a picture of their nana, their grandmother, in there. And then there’s an I love you, and then it floats off and it goes to find her. So we would say good night to our relatives that way.
Brandy: That’s so sweet.
Jeanine: It’s just really sweet. And then filling themselves in with the things that they want to dream about, or filling themselves in with the things that they want to learn about or things that they would want to experience the next day.
Brandy: And that’s the golden sun part?
Jeanine: That’s the golden sun part. So rather than just being straight golden sun light, you can put whatever intention in there you want. So if you want to fill yourself in with cold hard cash, go for it.
Brandy: (Laughs) Does that work though? Because you know about The Secret, right? So that was huge 10 or so years ago. That was all the rage, and I hated it, of course, because this is always my take – everybody loves something and I hate it. But what I didn’t like about, there was a dude on it who had a vision board and was like, “I want all these Ferraris and this watch.” And I’m like this is bullshit. This is white privilege, but the vision board. So he’s going to manifest that? I don’t know. There’s something about it that rubs me such the wrong way, the law of attraction. I get it. And I also think it’s BS.
Jeanine: I’m not going to say that it hasn’t worked for a lot of people that I know because some people that I know did really well following the principles from that. But do I think it’s a complete picture of what works for everybody? No. But I think it’s being really aware of when I put energy into this section of my life, these wonderful things happen. And I think for a lot of people, that’s parenthood. “I put my energy into my kids and then these amazing little things happen.”
Brandy: Okay. Yes. And that’s such the long game, right? Is sometimes it’s hard to see it, especially in the toddler years.
Jeanine: Really, really, really hard.
Brandy: It’s so hard to see it. And then the long game when your kids start to get older as you go, “All of this culminated into this amazing person and all that hard work has paid off.” But I tell you with the toddler years, and I’m not in the teen years, I’m creeping up on in another year. But in the teen years I’ve heard people say that it goes back to some of the same toddler stuff. But man, I feel like that’s one of the parts that can really get you down as a parent. Is you are sacrificing and giving so much, and kind of in survival mode for a bunch of it, and yet sometimes you see your kids resisting every single thing you’re trying to help them with, or melting down all day, or these things that feel like if I was doing this better, maybe they wouldn’t be doing those things, which is not true. I mean that’s just the nature of the developmental age-
Jeanine: So much of it is developmental.
Brandy: But as a parent, it’s hard to remember that sometimes, and to not be frustrated with I’m putting in so much of my energy and I get slapped in the face at Target? No.
Jeanine: No. It’s a long game. It’s a totally long game. And when my kids were toddlers, all of my projects were quick projects. I would crochet, I would draw. It was all stuff where I could start it, work on it for a few hours, and be done with it and see a result. Because I had to counterbalance this long game, the marathon.
Brandy: That’s right.
Jeanine: I would cook meals just because I wanted the result.
Brandy: That’s exactly right. You want to see something come to fruition.
Jeanine: Yeah, I wanted pay offs. So I picked all these short term projects. And the longterm projects that I had that were going before that took a total backseat for years. And I feel like I’m finally coming back to them now because I have a little bit more time and energy than I used to.
Brandy: Yeah, and crafting. I know there’s a lot of crafty moms. It’s interesting. It’s like what part of that drive to do those things is exactly what you’re talking about? Which is, I’m parenting these kids all day, every day and I’m not really seeing this pan out quite yet, but I just made this sign that says “Smith Family: Established 2001,” and it’s done and I’m hanging it. And that feels like a success.
Jeanine: Totally. You need that stuff. Maybe when your kid is one – of course you did this, didn’t you – is not the time to write a novel.
Brandy: Yeah, she wasn’t one, she was two and a half. And it’s interesting about this sparse time. When you become a parent, you don’t really realize that that’s part of it now. And it’s one of the things that I’ve had a hard time accepting without some resistance, is my life is measured in 30-minute chunks.
Jeanine: And it’s so frustrating.
Brandy: Especially if you’re somebody who likes to spend hours on a project. I have a friend who has ADD, and I’ve talked to her about this before because I said, “I feel like that sets you up to have an easier time at parenting. Because your attention is more dispersed and you’re use to that.” And not to say that it’s easy or necessarily even a positive experience, but that’s how parenthood is. So if you are somebody who is more rooted in “I want to write for six hours,” no. You don’t get to do that. So that can be part of the feeling like my needs are not being met when you don’t have these chunks of time to do something. So you have to reframe – I have to change that because I can’t expect my kid to play by themselves for six hours. When you see people who don’t have children, who they could choose to just spend an entire day on one project that they seem-
Jeanine: I used to love doing that.
Brandy: I know. That was one of the things I loved too, where you would just get carried away with whatever, whatever you were doing, whatever creativity. And now we have these little windows of after pickup, before pickup, when they come home, before you have to drop them off somewhere else, before dinner. At the end of the day, I feel chopped.
Jeanine: I will say that if I have a good meditation somewhere in the day, I feel a lot better by the end of the day.
Brandy: I bet.
Jeanine: But that doesn’t happen every day either. There are some days where it’s like up, you got the kids showered, you made the lunch, you get them to school, you do your things, you pay the bill, you go to the grocery store. And at the end of the day I’m like ughhhhhhh
Brandy: I know.
Jeanine: But that’s when I get my personal space and I ground before I go to sleep.
Brandy: Okay, so if you can’t find time during the day, so then what does that look like? That’s when you’re laying in bed before you’re about to shut your eyes, or is that earlier while you’re getting ready for bed?
Jeanine: Depends on how much energy I have. Sometimes I’m literally laying in the bed and I fall asleep in the middle of the meditation. And I’m okay with that.
Brandy: Right, yeah.
Jeanine: And sometimes, there’s a particular chair in the living room where I like to sit. And so while my hubby’s brushing his teeth or doing his thing, I can sit there for five or 10 minutes and just breathe.
Brandy: So are you doing basically the things that you’ve taught us?
Jeanine: Yeah, exactly the same things. Personal space, get grounded, get all this stuff out. You just clean out your space, clean out your head, and then fill yourself back in with the stuff.
Jeanine: Maybe one way to look at it is that you’re having a conversation between your conscious brain and your subconscious brain. So if you use the magnet bubble to get rid of the stuff that’s stressing you out, anything that you want your conscious brain to spend less time, you’re literally sending your subconscious brain a little message that says, “I want to spend less time thinking about this thing. I’m putting it out of my space and I am exploding that sucker. Out it goes.” And then you tell your subconscious brain with a gold sun, “I’m bringing in this intention. This is the stuff that I’d rather be thinking about.” So maybe it’s your creative process. Maybe it’s a solution to the problem that you’ve been trying to solve for weeks. Whatever. Literally anything.
Brandy: Maybe it’s just patience too. Maybe it’s not even a thing that you’re thinking about or doing, but just patience, or strength, or joy.
Jeanine: Yes. Literally anything. And it can be a color. It can just be gold light, or white light, or whatever suits you. If I go through just those simple steps before I go to bed, I’m going to sleep better. I’m in a better place than I was a few minutes before. So for me it’s like I only have a short bit of time. I need an attitude adjustment. So I’m not going to go to the liquor cabinet. I’m just gonna sit down in my living room and think my thoughts for a few minutes.
Brandy: Mental liquor.
Brandy: When you’re in that moment where you feel like if one more person asks me something, where you feel like you’re going to explode, what’s the first thing you do?
Jeanine: I probably would take a breath. And then for me, grounding is the key. That connection between my body and the earth, because that gives me a place to put the crap. There are a lot of times when I forget to use the roses, but that’s a particularly good tool. It’s just something that demarcates this is my space, this is my experience. And I may not be able to control everything that’s going on outside really at all, but this. This is where I can have my responsibilities.
Brandy: And then is there some sort of way that that changes how you come to the situation?
Jeanine: It keeps me from feeling like I’m on a fish hook at the end of the line. It gives me the reminder that I have a choice.
Brandy: Like it gives you agency.
Brandy: All of a sudden you feel rooted, you’ve got this energy behind you. It’s like wait a minute, I’m not flopping around here. What do I need to do in this moment?
Jeanine: Exactly. And when I feel myself tipping into something that I’m going to regret later, which sometimes I do, especially as a parent. If I have a breath, that gives me time to think. What do I really want to communicate in this situation? Because sometimes we want in the short term to go off on somebody. But then we stop and we have that breath. And we think to ourselves okay, maybe that’s not in my best interest over the longterm. Is it worth it? Sometimes the answer is yes and then you get to go for it.
Brandy: You get to really nail somebody.
Jeanine: And sometimes, usually the answer is this could do some damage that I don’t want to do. It’s totally what you said, that sense of agency. When you recover your sense of agency, when you’re present in the moment and not just running off of your most base instinct.
Brandy: Motherhood can feel like, I know I feel like this sometimes. “I don’t have a say. It’s happening to me.”
Brandy: Right? Especially with toddlers. In any other relationship, the dynamic and the way toddlers treat parents is abusive. But because it’s your child, it’s like, so your child just slapped you. You need to kindly teach them about boundaries and things. I think it’s easy to go into that victim mindset, which is this is all happening to me. I don’t have a say in it. “You guys aren’t listening to me. You’re going to do this no matter what I say. Now I’ve got to make this dinner for you.” I really like this idea of feeling that agency. Really physically feeling that I can say no to any of this. I guess when your kids are younger, that’s really the rub is that a lot of the stuff you can’t say no to. But finding the moments of when you can say no to something and when you can speak up and say, “I need this. I need a minute now. I need to take a breath.” And just having that gap between the reaction I think is a really powerful thing.
Jeanine: For me, snuggles are gold. I love the snuggles. So when I’ve got the raging kid and I need a minute, I would literally say, “Let’s go lie down and read something together. Let’s just go have a snuggle.” That to me was a little bit of payback for me. Okay, this is the part that I love about motherhood.
Brandy: Right, Right. Yes. More of that.
Jeanine: So this kid is raging, but it’s going to calm you. It’s going to be good for both of us. So let’s just go reconnect.
Brandy: In moments like that where I have a kid raging, my inclination is… It depends. It depends on what’s happening and how much patience I have, but I don’t want to move towards it. So there have been times where I’ve been of right mind and had patience enough that I can say, “Come over here and snuggle me. Let’s go read a book,” or whatever. But how do you rewire your brain as a parent in those moments sometimes to go towards and to find that compassion?
Jeanine: Okay. So this is the science of emotion regulation, is the technical term for it. And when you practice choosing your thoughts, you do get better at it. It’s a muscle. It gets stronger. Just like when you practice lifting weights, you get stronger. So that’s the why for the everyday kind of part of it. And it’s not just in the department of parenting. It’s literally walking through your life with a sense of agency. And you practice realizing just because this other person does this X, doesn’t mean that I have to do the next thing that comes to my mind. And it’s not specific to a situation, it’s just a way of being, where you put yourself in the center of your bubble, you put yourself in the center of your universe. And when you’re being a parent and you’re raising these kids, it’s one thing to tell them what you want them to do, but it’s something entirely different to create an environment where they recognize their needs and they’re able to verbalize their needs, and have that need at least attempted to be met.
Jeanine: So it’s a whole different style of where parenting is not a war anymore, but where it’s very much a team. And you look at those little people and you’re like, “I want you to grow up to be people with agency, people who have the ability to know what’s important to you, what’s not important to you. I want you to grow up with these skills, to be compassionate, to be kind.” How do I teach that? Well, the more time I spend being kind to my kids, the more kind they’re going to be. Because that’s their environment. That’s their expectation.
Brandy: I love this idea of parenting as a partnership and that’s what kind of gets me sometimes is parenting would be easier if the person you were trying to help wanted you to help them. For example, trying to get your kid to take a shower. The amount of resistance that exists in parenthood, I was just not prepared for. On the scale of unruly or really strong personalities, I don’t feel like my kids are on that end.
Jeanine: No, I think your kids are really, really awesome, and relatively easy.
Brandy: Thank you. But even that is tricky.
Jeanine: Yeah, I totally agree.
Brandy: The whole thing. I feel for the people out there who have kids that have stronger personalities. And even some behavioral stuff or special needs or whatever, because that constant working with people who you’re giving your energy to help and who are trying to work against you, that just breaks my spirit. To take 20 minutes of your time and actually fold laundry, and then to have your kid go do a giant belly flop on all of it and it all spills over. Yeah, there’s a part of that that’s like, “Oh kids, they’ll get ya!” But then there’s a part of it that’s also like everything I do is undone by you. That is hard to live with day in and day out.
Jeanine: So why aren’t your kids folding their own laundry?
Brandy: SHUT UP. (both laugh hysterically)
Brandy: As always, thank you so much for listening. I want to list out the seven steps of the meditation so you can have it at the ready. So maybe make a note of it on your phone or close your eyes to visualize it. Or I invite you to close your eyes to better visualize it. Whatever you need to do to best remember it. So here are the steps, and have fun with them. Remember, you can play with it or change it up to whatever asinine thing you want to happen in your egg.
Brandy: Step one, notice your breath. Step two, find your egg or personal space and sit in the center of it. Step three, grab a sponge and get to work cleaning out the junk. Don’t forget to explode it. Step four, give yourself a grounding cord from the base of the spine. Step five, put a washcloth in your imaginary ears and clean out the center of your head. Explode the gunk. Step six, let the golden sun radiate and fill you up with whatever you need. Step seven, put a beautiful but thorny rose up outside of your personal space to protect your energy.
Brandy: So I tried to do an acronym as an easier way to remember it for you guys, and that didn’t pan out. So if you’re more auditory, I’m going to give you a melodic phrase to help you remember the steps.
Brandy: I’m breathing in an egg with a sponge, and a cord, and a washcloth. There’s a sun, and a rose, and I’m done. I’m breathing in an egg with a sponge, and a cord, and a washcloth. There’s a sun and a rose, and I’m done. I’m breathing in an egg with a sponge, and a cord, and a washcloth. There’s a sun, and a rose, and I’m done.
Brandy: Don’t judge me on that, okay? If something has a stupid jingle, I’m going to remember it. So I’m just trying to do you guys a solid here.
Brandy: So I hope you found this episode helpful. If you want to learn more about Jeanine and her work, you can check out her website at www.spirituallifestudio.com. She’s got some guided meditations there, and even a few for kids. I mean, I wonder how our kids might process things differently if they had the tools to meditate like we just learned.
Brandy: For links to Jeanine’s website and a written version of this meditation lists, you can head over to my show page on my podcast website, which is www.adultconversationpodcast.com/meditation.
Brandy: Namaste. How is this the first time I’m saying namaste in the whole episode?? I just missed 50 minutes of namaste-ing the shit out of this thing. Damn it.