May 2, 2014

Back to Center: Parenting as a Meditation. ~ Natanya Lara

Mother With The Child

Recently, I was talking with another mom about what it means to be a present, calm, and confident parent.

“Really?” she asked, “does that happen?”

Ha! (I had to laugh, in a compassionate, ironic sort of way.)

Believe me, I am the first to say that parenting is hard. Our children constantly push our buttons and we are constantly facing our greatest lessons, usually when we least want to learn them.

My answer to her question was (and is) yes, it does happen.

And it’s a practice, a dance, a constant growth trajectory.

The thing is, every family is unique. This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all, perfect family of four smiling as they walk in the park,’ kind of thing.

That ‘perfect’ family: in about 4 seconds, the little boy is going to whack his sister, or the baby is going to start crying or the mother is going to start worrying about how much time she’ll have to cook dinner when they get home. There is no perfect, and there’s no getting ‘there.’

Parenting is a practice, calling us to be present now (and it requires deep breathing).

It’s a dance between our deepest needs and the needs of our children.

It’s a journey of growth, if we allow it to be.

I love thinking about parenting in this way because it takes the pressure off. It allows us to be human and to feel connected with other parents who are on the same journey.

As I thought more deeply about this idea, continuing to refine it, I arrived at this—parenting is a meditation.

I shared this metaphor with a friend, only she doesn’t meditate so she didn’t follow. Maybe you do meditate and you know exactly what I mean. Either way, this is what I shared with her:

People often think that meditation means to sit quietly with a completely blank mind for as long as possible, as if there is a ‘goal.’ I believed this for a long time too, even when I had begun to practice meditation. But what I finally began to understand is that meditation is the practice. That is to say, meditation is the process of sitting with quiet mind, getting off track, noticing you’re off track and coming back to quiet mind.

It is this, over and over again.

And so it is with parenting. When I say parenting is a practice—yes, to some extent I mean that it is a learning process and that if we practice it improves with time—but the deeper truth of what I mean is this: it is the process of finding your calm center while parenting, getting off track, noticing you’re off track and coming back to center.

It is this, over and over again.

When I was talking with my friend, she said to me, “I’ll bet you’re calm with your kids all the time, right?”

Oh my goodness, no. I am not. I get frustrated, angry, and off balance. This is why I have such compassion for parents, for all of us. We just want to love our children, to do our best for them.

And we are human. We are not perfect.

My wish is for us, all parents, to learn to forgive ourselves when we find ourselves off the path. When we do, we can get back onto it that much quicker.


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Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Courtesy of Author

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