Parenting as a Spiritual Practice
My reflections after week 1 of an incredible 8-week online course titled: ‘Parenting as a Spiritual Practice – an Integral Evolutionary Approach to Parenting’. For more details of the course, please visit: http://integralparenting.com/ref/heather/
“They may be little but they are real people, and they are complete with heart, mind, vulnerabilities and strengths.”
For some time now, I have had a deep yearning to taste the potential of having the path of parenthood and the path of spirituality truly come together in my life.
This is the second year that I have signed up for the ‘Parenting as a Spiritual Practice’ course. This invitation to be part of an awakened adventure has given me more opportunity to expand and to grow up so I can show up, for Noah – our 14 month old baby.
I am deeply moved by what precious opportunities each child represents; they really are an embodiment of possibly. However, I have also found myself aware of feeling daunted by my responsibility of being Noah’s mother, particularly now that I have a much deeper understanding of the impact and role that parents and caregivers have in our lives (and in particular the significance of this during their first three years).
The gifts of grace and the transformative potential offered through motherhood (and indeed parenthood), means that I have been cracked open to a degree of vulnerability, responsibility and love in a way that I have never experienced before.
Having fully embraced this sense of being cracked open and feeling stretched in my role as a mother, particularly in a year of excruciating vulnerability, and going through huge transitions, as well as dealing with the loss of many loved ones in the first year of Noah’s life, I am only now beginning to fully appreciate myself as a whole being and no longer trying to separate the various aspects of my self, but rather understand how the path of parenthood and the path of spirituality can and does intertwine (despite the complexities).
In lifting the bar for what parenting could be, the tension between what is and what could be in all aspects of my life has become ever-more apparent. Parenting as a spiritual practice invites a sense of awakening into my daily life, which takes real commitment.
In order to create fertile ground in ourselves as parents, for growth and evolution, we genuinely have to walk the talk to experience the magic.
Being present and authentic with Noah (or any child) is both a gesture of love and responsibility, I have entered into an unequal contract where I am trying to enable another human being to become who they truly are, to step into their full potential and to meet him on his level.
Throughout the first course, and now, I find myself having more conversations with my husband Kevin about what we want to include, transcend and transform from our own childhood imprints. What are the gems of the past? What patterns don’t belong to us or no longer serves our family? What do we build upon to ensure that we are providing unconditional love, healthy expectations and guidance for Noah?
This week I also took a step back to reflect on my relationship with Kevin; noticing what Noah is exposed to through us; after all, we are his first example of love, friendship, integrity, authenticity – providing that’s what we expose him to.
I do my very best to see the world through Noah’s eyes, to feel the world through Noah’s heart, to hear the world through Noah’s ears, to experience the world through Noah’s body, and to understand the world through Noah’s mind. This has been the greatest gift I could have asked for as I stepped into my purpose in life, as a mother.
My intention of parenting as a spiritual practice is to push my self-awareness and commit to practicing what I am preaching; bringing the awareness and awakening into our daily family life, whilst making time and space for my own personal spiritual growth, despite being in the midst of the commitment and complexities of raising a child.
I know that when I choose to respond from a place of consciousness over habit, I am choosing to be grounded, self-aware and responding through prompting myself with the beautiful question, ‘what would love do?’
Now, during the second year of the course, I find myself wondering how life might be if I could find the same resourcefulness with my husband as I can for my son… if it might be possible to practice being responsive rather than reactive with each relationship in my life, having watched how deeply (and naturally) I am able to connect with Noah and meet him in a place of love (most of the time).
When I take a step back and question where I am sourcing my response from within myself, I am able to show up in a different way, knowing that this loving take real practice.
One of the most prominent notes from the coursework this week is that “our doing, really comes from our being,” an insight that allows me to see how through placing myself at my own growing edges, I am discovering what is possible and I am fully embracing an approach to parenting that is demanding and inspiring, where there is always room for growth, reflection, learning and where I can let go of striving for perfection and instead be honest with myself when I feel regret and learn from these moments and integrate the lessons learned so that I keep going, keep growing up and showing up, and keep walking the talk.
I can honestly say I use the words “I’m sorry” to our 14 month old baby when I miss the mark, and in this sense, I feel like I truly am facing into who I am with radical honesty and this honesty is inspiring my growth and transformation, as well as encouraging me to be gentle with myself and find forgiveness when I fail.
This whole journey is about learning and I am still learning to hold these aspirations of more conscious parenting with grace; what I am trying to do is to embody the ever-growing presence, authenticity and love for life that I would like my son to embody. My husband and I are leaning into the untapped potential as a family and doing so in joyous discovery as we learn more about ourselves as individuals, our marriage, our parenting journey, our family, and most importantly as we learn about Noah and who he is.