Parenting As a Spiritual Practice

I have read the Bible, The I Ching, A Course in Miracles and the wisdom of enlightened masters such as the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle to mention just a few. I have been inspired by the wisdom and greatness of the words contained within these great spiritual texts but after a time, my resolve waned and the doctrines fell away and I return to my old destructive habits. I have been on my knees and prayed to God almighty, The Lord Buddha, the Universe and anyone else who would listen, for enlightenment and freedom from suffering but thought my prayers were going unanswered. Then one day, I had a revelation! An epiphany of life altering proportions!

Parenting As A Spiritual Practice

I didn’t need to learn Sanskrit or read the scriptures. I didn’t need to renounce the world or meditate on a Tibetan mountain. I realized that I was already following the highest spiritual path and learning the greatest spiritual teachings in my very own home from my very own spiritual masters.

Parenting As A Spiritual Practice

They say that spiritual Masters work selflessly to inspire humanity to seek the divinity within themselves. A real spiritual Master is able to expedite the progress of his/her disciples through their close connection to God and the grace of God and teach the timeless spiritual truths in a variety of ways; their teachings reflecting the environment and period in which they live.

Parenting As A Spiritual Practice

Great Spiritual Masters like Krishna, Buddha and Jesus Christ have offered their own unique path towards the highest Truth. However although the outer forms may differ the ultimate realization is the same.

Parenting As A Spiritual Practice

All the wisdom traditions of humankind suggest that we locate God through the Transmission of a Spiritual Master. So the “how” of Realizing God can be realized by finding a genuine Spiritual Master and become a devotee of His or Her Spiritual Transmission.

So I bow before my very own spiritual masters – my children. Every day they graciously (and often ungraciously) instruct me along the spiritual path towards discovering enlightenment. They do this with an accuracy born of God itself, so that I may learn the greatest lessons of life.

They are my daily spiritual practice…I am ‘grasshopper’ and they make my Kung Fu strong!

From their teachings I have learned some of life’s greatest spiritual lessons:

Selfless Love: pure unadulterated love of the grandest kind! Love that knows no boundaries, love that hurts. The kind of love that grabs hold of your soul and makes it soar to the dizzying heights of heaven. I would give my last breath to my children and never think about it. It wouldn’t even cross my mind to hold back. I would give anything and everything for them. Wouldn’t we all? When we feel love this deeply, it must emanate from something greater than ourselves. The masters spoke of this kind of love. The ones who went beyond said it’s the state you attain when you drift into spirit. This is the love of a mother. This is selfless love. I learnt this greatest of lessons, the day my children were born and I’ve practiced it every day since.

Surrender; Motherhood for me has been a bit like being strapped into the Space Shuttle Atlantis as they begin the countdown…10, 9, 8….and told that my mission is to navigate my way to the planet Jupiter without a space map or a space shuttle license, 7, 6, 5, …with no crew and no bloody radio to ask for help, 4, 3, …so I’m just going to hang on for dear life and enjoy the ride! 2, 1, 0 …!!! Surrender or suffer!

Transcending the Ego; Oh that old chestnut! How motherhood challenges ones ego…let me count the ways!

All around the world, we are stereotyped as mothers (and as fathers) and the cultural and societal expectations can be a heavy weight to bear. I think to some degree or another, we all fall into the trap of identifying ourselves as a ‘mother’. We begin to believe the cultural illusion of who we ‘should’ be when we become a mother. We begin to gauge our self worth by our mothering abilities and by how “good” are children are.

How we are seen by others, begins to define how we see ourselves and we are usually left wanting.

We invariably end up feeling like failures because, lets face it, who the hell can live up to these unrealistic cultural expectations? Not me!

Ultimately though, the lesson is that being a mother has nothing to do with who we are and I am challenged to remind myself of this important lesson every day. In so many ways, my little guru’s help me to remember who I really am.

They are masters at reminding me to be authentic and real. They let me know when I fall into role-playing and I see their suffering when my awareness falters and my egoic patterns return. They remind me every day to be present, mindful and authentic to who I am.

My mothering mantra: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man”. – William Shakespeare

Suffering; Motherhood exposed a deep seated layer of pain in the core of my heart. This pain was so uncomfortable, so challenging and so destructive, that I had spent a great deal of my adult life avoiding it. In fact my whole way of being, thinking, acting and perceiving the world had evolved to avoid this pain. Now, this pain had resided quite nicely at the core of my heart until my children opened my heart wide open (with love) and out spilled all that pain. Layers and layers of it exposed to the stark light of day and it wasn’t going away until I faced up to it! I could no longer resolve this pain through the thinking mind, as my children presented endless challenges to my psyche. They challenged me (in innumerable ways) to stop running away from my pain and instead to look deeply at it and be free of it. I now try to view pain simply as energy passing through my heart and before the eye of my consciousness.

Every time I remember to relax and release, a little bit of the pain leaves forever and I am one step closer to being free. When I forget, it creates a dam that holds it in, until eventually the dam breaks and out it spills again.

My little spiritual masters offer me many opportunities to relax and release. Some days I am better at this than others, but I am getting plenty of practice! I have come to know that there is an ocean of love behind the pain and fear and I have the choice to move closer to love and further away from pain and fear. They are my pleasure and my pain, my ying and my yang.

So the next time your having a parental crisis, instead of looking at your children as miniature tyrants who are trying to ruin your day/life, try instead to look on your little ones as spiritual masters that are endeavoring to teach you a great lesson about yourself and about life.

So for me, parenting is my spiritual practice, my children are my teachers and life itself is my highest spiritual path. Amen!

Amanda Robinson is the author of ‘The Silent Crisis – Simple Ways to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse’ and an ex police officer who has worked with both the victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. In the course of her work, she has developed a deep empathy and compassion for the victims of abuse and an in-depth understanding of the dynamics involved in child sexual abuse including the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds that are inflicted upon its young victims.

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