Let us start with an all familiar story…often heard not so often applied.
Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.
At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!
The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!
As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.
But neither happened!
The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
It never was able to fly…
As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.
There will always be a search for the most ideal playbook to parenting and will probably never end. However, some fundamentals will always be at the core of any playbook as the spiritual Master Chariji often said, best way of parenting is to be the example for your kids.
- Be the example. Children watch, observe and learn – what starts off as a imitation soon turns into habits. So, if we expect our children to imbibe certain core values, we better practice it and be good examples. One of the best practices to have at home and let children observe and learn is to make them aware of tools like relaxation and meditation to seek and use when they feel a need for them.
- Judge not any situation or person for, very soon it will be considered a norm and slowly prejudice becomes a part of their subconscious mind. It will be the hardest to overcome with age and time. A guaranteed approach to overcome prejudice and develop love is Meditation. If children are taught to seek forgiveness and resolve not to commit it again, tendencies will slowly dissolve.
- Refer to the heart. From the very early stages of childhood, if they are taught the significance of developing universal love for all creation and use their hearts to take a decision, a lot of other conflicts will gradually disappear. A pause in the middle of a hectic schedule and a conscious effort to seek within are definite ways to train a young heart.
- Avoid stress in a family situation. When a child experiences chronic or particularly intensely stressful events, the brain moves to protect the child from overwhelming vulnerability so that the child can continue to function (although in a more limited way). In this way, chronic stress or traumatic experiences can contribute to a hardening of the heart. Regularly encouraging the child to practice relaxation and eventually Meditation will help overcome occasional uncontrollable stress that is a normal part of life. Most importantly, maintaining a calm and less conflicting environment at home will evoke interaction, mutual love and respect thus avoiding stress.
- Sensitivity: Supporting a child’s capacity for feeling vulnerable is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Knowing the reasons a child’s brain may opt for defensiveness in place of feeling the vulnerable zone of the heart, you become better positioned to help them grow into open-hearted, emotionally intelligent, and resilient beings. Parents that meditate tend to learn about these zones and become more sensitive and alert to these situations.
As you go through school, and life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly. Deep roots in values that are strengthened by meditation and strong wings that are strengthened by confidence to seek, discover and explore will eventually let many hearts soar. Happy parenting.