PARENTING—THE GREATEST OF ALL ACTION MEDITATIONS
When it comes to stress, nothing beats raising children. Every parent understands this. So it’s no wonder family life and parenting are without question the world’s number one opportunity for meditation. At its best we experience the joy of being in a moment so beautifully captured by Anna Quindlen in A Short Guide to a Happy Life:
“Get a life in which you pay attention to a baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cherrio with her thumb and first finger. Turn off the cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present. Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you.”
In the parenting relationship you will experience the ultimate meditation. Anyone who’s been a parent knows that as much as you love your kids, those moments may be fleeting. And yet, in between those “Cherrio moments” and the “you’re-driving-me-crazy” stresses of dealing with a rebellious teenager, there are endless opportunities for meditation.
When it comes to raising children, parents aren’t experts, we’re learning on the job. We have no choice but to live in the moment! But in each of those moments you do have a choice.
Maybe you can’t meditate like Zen or Trappist monk in a quiet monastery. And it’s highly probably you’ll never attain total peace and serenity around a bunch of noisy, demanding, self-centered teenagers. But you do have tools available to reduce the stress—and meditation is the best one available, even if you only get it in very brief moments—while car pooling, at a play rehearsal, making their dinner, or singing a lullaby.
Here’s a message for any stressed-out parent: Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of true success in life. Tape it to your bathroom mirror and meditate on it when you get up in the morning:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”