There is a distinctly non-spiritual reason why I decided to start meditating every day. I read that meditation can give you deeper rest than sleep.
For four years, I had been either pregnant or breastfeeding. I was tired and needed more rest. I’m not a morning person anyway and now brutal, unasked for dawns invaded seven or eight times a night. I woke to feed my youngest child, or to soothe my grouchy middle child or to schooch (grudgingly) over in bed to let the eldest child snuggle up.
I started to do strange things. I’d put the milk in the cupboard instead of the fridge. Once, I glanced at the oven, yelped, grabbed the kids and ran out into the street in my pyjamas. I saw fire. It was just the oven light. Another time, I put the electric kettle on and left the room, to swiftly smell smoke and plastic as it melted on the gas hob. I needed to rest my brain. It wasn’t working. I had three small boys to look after.
The word exhaustion is used so much in tandem with parenting that it has lost its impact. People don’t feel the weight of that word anymore, they don’t see the paper-thin grey around the eyes of the person saying it. It’s not tiredness, it’s not fatigue, it is the king of the states of unrest: Exhaustion. Your brain is slipping out on you. You aren’t taking care of it. It’s trying to make an escape.
Meditation helps. It faces up to the exhaustion and it says: Your number is up. It’s time to rest.