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Archive for May, 2016

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Tender Moments

 

HEARTFUL PARENTING:

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

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When one speaks of inner peace, in the context of the ancient sources of spiritual knowledge, it seems like a journey from “Aham” to “Atman”. In the process, we surmount the ego and find our inner SELF. Let us examine this premise and understand.

Most often during the outer journey of life we seek meaning: Who are we? What are we doing? Thus leading us to put a correlation, context, meaning and thus a sense of being incomplete – rather a fear of not knowing answers to many questions. This fear or lack of confidence, congests our mind, analyses every situation and leaves impressions thus creating deep imprints or “samskaras”. Add the ability of imagination to the mind and now we have a deeply congested mind with its own imagination of supremacy or “Aham”.

The process of decongesting the mind and connecting it with the source of light in the heart enables the journey from “Aham” to “Atman”.

A few key “carry-ons” will make this journey a smooth one.

Selfless service is equal to the proverbial renunciation or detachment. The very act of getting involved in serving others without being very conscious of doing so is a very simple and first step towards Atman.

Exercise willpower is considered to be the only friend of the inner Self. By exercising one’s willpower, one learns to ignore the onslaught of external stimuli, liberate themselves from fear, desire, anger, praise and blame.

Self Observation: When meditation is practiced with discipline and consistency, the practitioner is able to look within and appreciate the mind that occupies the body, the thoughts that occupy the mind, the realm/field that occupy the thoughts and the opportunities and threats that occupy those realms.

Thus MEDITATION brings awareness and attention to ones heart where the reality of his own fears and courage resides and the practitioner is able to appreciate the same in the individuals around him. Thus showing compassion and encouragement. This gives birth to empathy and ability to let go.

Avoid Prejudice: When an individual carries impressions of fear and survival, there is a propensity to judge. Everyone here is tying to compare and contrast and set their own versions of excellence, success, valor and victory. The observing self wants to figure out the best and optimal way to get answers to every situation – in a victorious fashion with recognition and accolades.

This animal tendency to identify the other as the opponent or competitor or prey is innate in every human. However, when the journey from ‘Aham’ to ‘Atman’ happens, there is an inside-out transformation from animal-human to human-human (Vanara to Nara) to divinized-human (Narayana). This process is achieved by learning to regulate the mind, decongest the mind and eventual discovery of the ‘Atman”. In other words from self- realization to mergence…with the source.

“He who does not hate anyone, is always friendly and compassionate, not possessive and self indulgent, stable in pleasure and pain, forgiving, contained, controlled and firm in his love for the ultimate, in heart and head, is the ONE” . –Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12, verses 13 & 14 (paraphrased).

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