Mama, are you looking to add a bit of stillness to your busy day? Then meditation has probably crossed your mind, but the word conjures up sitting in a lotus position for hours struggling to keep your thoughts at bay.

Today we’ll be talking to Prerna who is a meditation instructor for Meditation for Moms plus an early child educator and parent coach at Together We Grow. She’ll tell us what Sahaja Yoga meditation is all about and how you can spend time connecting back to yourself and relaxing through their free online classes.

Website: meditatemoms.com
Facebook: Meditation for Moms
Instagram: @meditatemoms

Website: togetherwegrow.online
Facebook: Together We Grow
Instagram: @togetherwegrow.online
Youtube: youtube.com/c/togetherwegrow108
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/prernarichards

Carol: Hi mamas. Welcome. I’m Carol Webb, the founder of Just Breathe Mama Coach. I’m a coach EFT and Reiki practitioner and I love helping moms manage the overwhelm and create a life that is more manageable and filled with joy. My next interview series is all about self-care, and I know everyone knows about self-care, but I find it’s really difficult for moms to prioritize themselves when they’re so busy looking after everybody else. One fantastic way to incorporate some stillness is by taking up a daily meditation practice.

Carol: And today I have a very special guest, Prerna and she is an instructor at Meditation for Moms. Prerna Richards is a social entrepreneur, a coach, consultant, trainer, national and international speaker. She has been in the early childhood education field for the past 35 years. Most recently, she started her own consulting business, Together We Grow, providing professional development, coaching and consulting for educators and individual families. She has been practicing Sahaja yoga meditation for the past 40 plus years and believes in the importance of leading a balanced life. She is passionate about supporting moms and children so that families can live a peaceful and joyful life. Welcome Prerna. I’m so happy to have you here today.

Prerna: Thank you, Carol. I’m delighted to be with you. Thank you so much.

Carol: So can you tell us how your meditation journey began? How it all started.

Prerna: A really long time ago. *laughs* Yeah, so I started meditating when I was 14 back in India and I came across meditation because my whole family started it. Because I was so young, I wasn’t really seeking meditation. I wasn’t really stressed out. We started it together as a family. The founder of Sahaja yoga, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, when I met her, I instantly just connected because she was so loving, so kind, so motherly, so compassionate. I was filled with joy and happiness every time I was around her and I wanted to learn more. I think that’s what it was.

Prerna: I think the way it made me feel without recognizing that this was something so important that I was going to use the rest of my life, I think it was the emotion that it generated. The joy, the happiness, the love, the security. So fast forward, 40 plus years and here we are. I have absolutely used it every single day with every single phase of my life. I’m a mother and a grandmother. It has become a big part of who I am and it has given me sustenance throughout.

Carol: Oh, that’s fantastic to have started it at such a young age as well. If everybody started meditating at a young age, I think we would have a much less stressed world right now.

Prerna: Yeah, I think the earlier we start the better, you know, even with children. So I like to say meditating for children is as simple as going out in nature and just listening to the different sounds you can hear. It just makes you very still, if you really are paying attention. Or even if you just start paying attention to “Okay, what birds am I noticing? What flowers am I noticing?” That’s how it starts, it’s so gradual.

Carol: Yeah as opposed to just being blissfully unaware going about your day to becoming more aware and more mindful.

Prerna: Yes, being fully present where our feet are. Right.

Carol: So why Meditation for Moms? Why was it created and why moms in particular?

Prerna: Really good question. So it happened spontaneously during COVID. We got approached in August 2020 by a local group, a support group for moms with multiple children. They reached out to us because they had heard about us presenting to the Dallas city employees. She reached out and said, “Is there anything you can do specifically for moms?” And that’s how it started. It started with half an hour, once a week where we could just gather and destress and take all the tension out. Well the need was so high and the demand was so high. Fast forward from August 2020, here we are in April, we are now offering it every day of the week for half an hour. And it’s just a space created where you can kind of take a break from everything else for 30 minutes.

Prerna: Moms are busy people and they just don’t have time for a lot. Last week I was teaching a session and we had 28 people from all over the world. Global people are attending and local within America, Canada and different States. So people are just coming together and thank goodness for Zoom. Yes, we can do things electronically, virtually, globally.

Prerna: I think moms carry so much of the burden. Moms have typically full-time jobs outside the house and inside the house. Moms are the anchors of the family. And if we can take care of the moms, they can take care of the families in a much more balanced way and without getting exhausted and worn out. I think this last year has shown us unprecedented levels of stress and I think we’ve all experienced it in different ways. We’re all recognizing the need to take care of us. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Seriously.

Carol: Completely. Absolutely. It’s so important. Especially since the mom is like the axle in the wheel, it keeps everything spinning. And if she’s not doing well then the whole family’s going to be at a loss, right?

Prerna: Yep. It’s very true. Everybody is emotionally connected and they’re kind of growing their strength from the mom in the family.

Carol: So everybody knows about meditation now, but I still think there’s this assumption out there that you have to sit perfectly still and force every single thought out of your head. And It tends to make people feel like, “Ugh, I can’t do this!” So can you explain a little bit about what meditation is, especially for a beginner?

Prerna: Sure. I think meditation, the word “meditation” has a bad rap to be totally honest. I think people have this misconception that you have to wear certain clothing, you have to sit a certain way, you have to eat certain things. And meditation has nothing to do with the outside. That is really the very interesting fact. Meditation is actually a state. So meditation is not something you do. Meditation is a state that you get into. And a very simple way to explain what meditation is, is thoughtless. When you don’t have a lot of thinking, planning, worrying; when your brain just can be silent: that’s when you’re in the state of meditation.

Prerna: That is the hardest state to achieve because our attention is so much outside and our attention is so pulled by everything around us. Everything that your eye goes to your attention follows and based on where things are in your life, you could have very fragmented attention. I actually do work with young children on how to strengthen their attention from an early age so we can have this gift of settled attention. And that’s what meditation is. If we can silence our brain, if we can become quiet inside, not just physically outside, it happens. Meditation is also something, the more you practice, the more you become still and the more you enjoy the stillness.

Carol: Yeah. I think those first five minutes for everybody’s like, “I can’t do this. There’s too many thoughts.” But they don’t really realize that it’s a practice. You will improve just like with anything else.

Prerna: It’s a muscle. And the more you strengthen it, the more you want it, the more you put attention on it, the more you can benefit from it. I think that’s the cycle. Once you start enjoying it and it goes past the painful, “I can’t sit still,” that’s when you truly can recognize that “this is something that actually brings me peace. I like this feeling.”

Carol: I love that. Thanks for that explanation. Now, do you have to have any particular religious beliefs to practice meditation?

Prerna: No. No, definitely not. Definitely not. Meditation, like I said, is a state that the brain has to get to and we all have a brain and we all have a brain that works super hard. Meditation has nothing to do with your beliefs, your culture, your country. It doesn’t matter because we all carry a brain and the brain is exhausted and the brain needs to rest and the brain needs to refresh. You know how sleep rests our body? Meditation refreshes your brain. It’s just silencing your brain. That’s all it is.

Carol: Fantastic. Now there are many, many different types of meditation out there, movement meditation, the silent one which I think is called Vipassana. What type of meditation do you practice and teach?

Prerna: So really good question. And yes, the market of meditation is overwhelming and it’s very confusing. How do you know where to begin? So the first thing that I would say is Sahaja yoga is free. Nothing is ever charged, you never ever pay for anything. I think that was one of the founding principles because the thinking is that we have everything we need inside us, right? So you are a coach and I’m a coach. When you find a coach, they help you to tap into what you have and this is what the foundation of this meditation is. Inside us we have seven centers, many people know about the chakras and centers inside us. We have seven centers. We also have an amazing thing, which is called the Kundalini, which is the energy. And this energy, the best way to describe it is magical.

Prerna: It’s magical because it has a very healing, nourishing, nurturing power. When this energy rises, it just kind of goes up your spine because all your centers are aligned in your spine. At the base of your spine is where this energy resides and we all have it. We just don’t know we have it. The easiest way to tap into it is by desiring. That’s it. If you just desire that your energy rises, it responds. That’s how beautifully made we are. As it rises, and as it crosses the forehead, which is where the brain is, which is where all the thinking happens, then this energy rises. It’s very spontaneous. It’s like gravity makes us stand up and we don’t fall down. The quality of this energy is that it rises, it just happens.

Prerna: When it crosses here *puts hand on forehead* there’s actually an amazing thing that happens in the brain. They’ve done a lot of MRIs and they’ve done a lot of brain scans to show that when people meditate, something changes in your brain. So normally you have very tight nerves. Your brain has thousands of nerves and they’re very tight. But when this energy rises and when you meditate, the brain relaxes, the nerves relax. There’s actually a shift in how you can rewire your brain.

Prerna: So that’s why I feel like Sahaja yoga meditation is easy because it tells you to get in touch with your own self. You become your own master, you become your own coach, you become your own teacher. You can start figuring out on your hands because on our fingers, each finger is related to a center. Once you learn the techniques, you can then become your own (healer), “Oh, I’m feeling very emotional today. Oh, I’m feeling very hectic today. Let me take care of myself.” So you start balancing yourself.

Carol: Oh, fantastic. I love that. That everything is within you already. It is.

Prerna: It’s so true. We were created complete. We don’t have to buy something, sell something, change something because we have everything we need within us.

Carol: Right. You just have to tap in.

Prerna: Tap in and it starts with the desire.

Carol: Yeah. Can you tell me about your Zoom classes and maybe take me through what would happen?

Prerna: So the Zoom classes are very short. They’re only 30 minutes and you can find the schedule on meditatemoms.com. That way you can get the link. Because it’s only 30 minutes the main focus is on the experience of the silence and the peace. So we start off with a brief introduction on the topic. For example, last week’s topic was emotional intelligence and why emotional intelligence matters and what it’s all about and where in your body you can tap into that.

Prerna: So a little brief overview of the topic and then positive affirmations. We have some positive affirmations, for example, one could be “help me to feel the peace within,” “help me to feel confident within,” and “help me to feel secure and safe.” So there’s positive affirmations that happen and then we will have instrumental music and just listen to the music. And, if everything goes well, then your energy rises and it relaxes your brain and 30 minutes later, you’re feeling refreshed and you’re feeling rejuvenated.

Prerna: It happens local Dallas time, 8:00 every evening. So by the time 8:00 comes, we’re pretty exhausted. All of us are pretty done. *laughs* 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM look quite different, right? And so that’s it. After 30 minutes many people will stay on and ask questions and get clarification, but many people leave and they’re done. They just hop on as their schedule allows. It’s very, very simple and anybody can join any week. You don’t have to have the previous weeks, every session is standalone. And they’re offered Monday through Friday and also Saturdays. All the information is on that website, but I would say if you’re curious, come and join. That’s the best way to find out.

Carol: Yeah. And that’s great. It’s for free mamas. It’s for free! You can go in and enjoy and destress. I love that science has proven that it relaxes the brain too.

Prerna: I know. Isn’t that exciting?! To get evidence that the brain is rewired. Actually, I’ve seen an image of this and you might find this interesting, when the brain is fully relaxed and you look from the top, it really does look like a thousand petals. It looks like a Lotus, it looks like a beautiful Lotus has opened and you’re getting the bird’s eye view of these thousand petals. So when the nerves are relaxed it just opens up versus being like a closed, tight nest.

Carol: Right. Amazing. I’m going to have to look that up. So what is one of the top questions that you get asked by moms? You may have covered it already.

Prerna: No, no. This happens all the time. “I don’t have the time, I can’t silence my brain. I want to relax, but I don’t have time for myself.” And the two are so connected. The more hectic we are, the more we don’t have the time, the more stressed we are. You see the cycle? You have to break the cycle somewhere. It can be done.

Carol: Completely. It’s possible. Now what are some of the benefits that moms will receive from incorporating a daily meditation practice into their lives?

Prerna: I think that is a really good question because we all wonder “what’s in it for me?” Like “why do I need to bother about this?” So I think of it like this, there are different aspects to our life. There’s our physical body, physical health, there’s mental health, mental being, mental thinking, whatever you want to call it, physical, mental, social, emotional and the one that we never ever talk about is spiritual. The spirit is what resides in our heart. So we all focus on our brain, we all focus on our body, we all focus on our social and emotional, but we forget about our spirit, which is also part of who we are.

Prerna: Our spirit is in the heart and our spirit is the most silent part of who we are. Our spirit is our pure essence of who we are. It’s not this ego, not this title, not this body, not this outside image. It’s the most beautiful thing inside us and many of us don’t talk about it. When you start meditating, you can integrate all five aspects of your life. And spiritual could just be enjoying nature. That’s spiritual because you’re still one with yourself. That’s what spirit is when you’re one with yourself and you can enjoy being with yourself. To me, nature is a go-to. I love to go for walks, I love going for hikes, nature relaxes me.

Prerna: So when we start thinking of our lives in five aspects, meditation can be an integration link between all aspects of our life. It’s not that physically I’m in great shape and mentally I’m exhausted and emotionally I’m doing really well or not. Whatever the case might be, it balances it out. It balances all of it out. Then once you’re balanced, this word that we use, ‘work-life’ balance, we’ve all heard this word, but what does it mean? Right? It’s not just managing a calendar. It’s not just setting your priorities. A balanced life is so much more than just on the surface, right? And so that’s it. That’s why you should meditate. Not because you’re going to join a cult or not because you’re changing a life it’s because spirit is part of who we are. It completes us.

Carol: I totally agree. And who has ever gone into nature and then come home and said, “that was a bad idea.” Nobody.

Prerna: How grateful are we to have beautiful nature? That can be so soothing and so healing. And even when children are having meltdowns, when children are having challenging behaviors, what we do as adults has a lot to do with their behavior. So when we are stressed out, when we are impatient, when we are reactive, instead of responding, we react and reacting is snappy, right? Reaction doesn’t involve thinking, processing, reflecting. Reaction is instant.

Prerna: So when we can take care of this, we can show up in our family as responding versus reacting. When we can take care of our brain, we can slow down. We’re not meant to be machines, we’re meant to be humans, we’re meant to experience all this. I think this last year has proven to us that we have got to slow down. We’ve all been forced to slow down and I think we’re better for it. I think this year has been a blessing and a stress.

Carol: Yes, for a lot of people, it is stress but it has allowed us to bring it down a notch. It almost felt like everybody was at that level of burnout.

Prerna: Yeah and we did that to ourselves, we did that to mother nature. On so many levels I think we have to be grateful that time to pause, time to reset.

Carol: Yes and let’s carry that forward.

Prerna: I’m really hoping, I’m not ready to give that up. I think it’s a nice feeling to slow down.

Carol: Yes. Oh, that was an amazing conversation. Thank you so much for joining us today. If there are mamas out there looking for more information on Meditation for Moms, you can check out their website, it’s meditatemoms.com. There’s also more information on Facebook at the same name and they have an Instagram account as well of the same name. Sign up for one of those free online classes and you get amazing support from your teacher and there’s a community of women with you. Now, if you’d like more information about Prerna as an early childhood educator and coach her website is togetherwegrow.online. You can also find her on Instagram at the same name and I’ll post her LinkedIn and YouTube accounts below as well. But I’ll post all the links for you. Thank you. That was amazing and I really, really enjoyed having you on today.

Prerna: Thank you, Carol. It was a pleasure to spend some time with you and thank you for the work that you’re doing. Making a difference in the world of mamas and supporting them. What an important and beautiful difference you’re making. I think it’s really nice that we should support each other. You know, definitely this is not a space for competition. This is a collaborative space. We can all learn from each other. So I appreciate you doing this. Thank you so much.

Carol: Thank you so much.

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