Saturday, November 21, 2009

How to love when it's hard.

As a mom I'm finding the need for simple short practices that produce immediate tangible results. One of my big current goals is to learn how to be loving and kind to myself and my family -- especially when it's hard. Ah, especially when I'm angry. (Shouting is the New Spanking, if you know what I mean.)

These words by Doreen Fisher in a post titled Parenting in Awareness offer a daily practice that I find particularly do-able for a parent's schedule.

Every day I wake up and tell myself that I’m going to parent with love and patience and listen with an open heart. Every night I go to bed and forgive myself for anything that slipped through. And every day, I take responsibility for my actions, make amends for any actions or words that fall outside the scope of what I consider loving and gentle (holding myself to a high standard on that definition) and acknowledge to my children when it was me, not them, who brought out any transgression.

The beauty of intention-setting is that you don't have to figure anything out. You don't have to spend your days "trying harder". The energy of the intention you've set will literally guide you throughout the day, open opportunities to act with greater awareness which you might otherwise have missed. It's said that it takes 3 weeks to change a habit. If you decide to work with setting an intention for yourself, may I suggest that you work with it for at least 3 weeks. And if you miss practice a couple of days because you forgot -- or life just had other plans for you -- consider that part of practice as well. (Do continue to commit yourself to practice, however.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clarity cuts through H1N1 vaccination stress

Like so many parents, my husband and I have been weighing the pros and cons of vaccinating our daughter for swine flu. We did our research. We consulted with two different pediatricians, both whom we trust. One is strongly in favor of the H1N1 vaccine, one is staunchly opposed to it.

Needless to say we got confused. We got frustrated. And we got scared. The stakes are just too high to mess it up. But are they?

Now before I tell you how I got clear about what to do for my family, let me first advise you of something that you probably already know: your intuition will produce a response unique to you and your situation. In other words, my answer to the H1N1 vaccine question is not your answer -- even if we just so happen to arrive at the same answer. Okay, advisory over, now for the moment of insight. Figuring I'd gathered enough information, I checked in with my intuition. "What should I do?", I asked. Much to my surprise, I sensed back, "Either way is fine." I knew it to be a solid response because the answer brought a sense of quiet peace. And I had to laugh. Sometimes I stress and worry just because that's what I think I'm "supposed" to do. It's nice to be part of society and fear is so trendy -- do you know what I mean?

Monday, November 9, 2009

High Level Guidance

Is there an area in your life in which you're feeling stuck? Some issue in which you'd like to receive insight or clarity? If so, tonight's "Meditation for Parent's" group is for you. (And if you happen to be in a good place right now -- no urgent or pressing matters -- you may want to come anyway and experience a simple practice for accessing your own intuition, or, if you prefer, "High Level Guidance, at any time.

I'm often struck by how hard it is to receive that guidance. Most of us haven't been raised to "Ask for help" from anyone -- and certainly not help from a source that, if you have been exposed to religion in your past, may prompt more questions (or concerns, fears, or inhibitions) than answers. Yet we probably all know how our perspective can change when we go to a yoga class, have a drink out with a friend or better yet, take a vacation someplace warm and fun. (Okay, maybe before we had kids a vacation someplace fun and warm would prompt relaxation. Most parents I know return from vacation with their kids in desperate need of a "real vacation"!) Whatever it is we do that truly helps us to "Let Go.", -- it is in the releasing of our white-knuckled grip that our perspective opens and allows insights to arise.

There are some wonderful practices for releasing our grip. Meditation is just one of them. For some of us it's running or acupuncture. There are also some excellent practices for opening to and receiving intuition (call it clarity, direction or wisdom if you prefer). These practices work regardless of your spiritual or religious orientation. Over the weeks, I'll be sharing some of them here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Time for you.

"Whatever shows me peace or satisfaction is a valid meditation."
Swami Shankarananda

Yesterday I was out running errands on Broadway when a friend, a mother of two young children, rushed by me in a frantic hurry. She was alone. No stroller or kids in tow. "Can't talk!" she hollered over her shoulder, "I've only got 20 minutes to myself!".

"Say no more! I totally understand!", I thought. And I wondered what she was going to do with this little bit of time she had for herself. Would she pick up dry cleaning? Was she heading for the new massage place around the corner where you can get a 15 minute massage for $10 bucks? Or would she slip into the park with a coffee and gaze up at the leaves?

The quality of experience that your free time evokes in you matters. It matters a lot. If you need justification, ask yourself: "What kind of energy am I bringing back to my family? Does this time leave me feeling cleansed and revitalized? Or do I return feeling resentful, like there's never enough time in the day?"

Okay, now here's the tough question: Are you even actually giving yourself time for yourself? Are you, really? For many of us, truly taking time for ourselves is never comfortable. In the words of one father I know, "I always feel that I'm carrying a heavy burden. And when I set down that burden even for a minute, I'm painfully aware that someone else -- my wife or a caregiver -- now has to carry that burden."

Guilt. It's a valid feeling. Guilt can serve us and our loved ones, holding us responsible for our actions and keeping us on task. But if you sense that guilt is running your life or worse, draining you, then for the sake of experimentation, try this practice: Feel the guilt and take the time for yourself anyway. Don't just run an errand on behalf of your family but do something that deeply nurtures YOU. Then notice what happens. Be scientific about it. Are you and your family better or worse off for your having taken the time?