Extended Retreat

From Part One ("The Danger and the Promise") of the chapter "What Is Mindful Parenting?" in Everyday Blessings by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, thoughts that resonate with Ezra Bayda (cf. Being Zen) on how problems can become opportunities:

... from the perspective of mindfulness, parenting can be viewed as a kind of extended and, at times, arduous meditation retreat spanning a large part of our lives. And our children, from infancy to adulthood and beyond, can be seen as perpetually challenging live-in teachers, who provide us with ceaseless opportunities to do the inner work of understanding who we are and who they are, so that we can best stay in touch with what is truly important and give them what they most need in order to grow and flourish. In the process, we may find that this ongoing moment-to-moment awareness can liberate us from some of our most confining habits of perception and relating, the straitjackets and prisons of the mind that have been passed down to us or that we have somehow constructed for ourselves. Through their very being, often without any words or discussion, our children can inspire us to do this inner work. The more we are able to keep in mind the intrinsic wholeness and beauty of our children, especially when it is difficult for us to see, the more our ability to be mindful deepens. In seeing more clearly, we can respond to them more effectively and with greater generosity of heart, and parent with greater wisdom.

As we devote ourselves to nourishing them, and understanding who they are, these live-in teachers, especially in the first ten or twenty years of our "training," will provide endless moments of wonder and bliss, and opportunities for the deepest feelings of connectedness and love. They will also, in all likelihood, push all our buttons, evoke all our insecurities, test all our limits and boundaries, and touch all the places in us where we fear to tread and feel inadequate or worse. In the process, if we are willing to attend carefully to the full spectrum of what we are experiencing, they will remind us over and over again of what is most important in life, including its mystery, as we share in their lives, shelter and nourish and love them, and give them what guidance we can.

^z - 2014-07-19