Being a yoga teacher and meditator does not make me a perfect parent.
I’ve realized this over the course of countless times when I have lost my temper and scared my children by yelling at them. I’ve lost my awareness, my compassion, my calm a lot, and each time I regret it. It frightens my young girls and erodes my relationship with them.
I feel so vulnerable to admit this, but it’s my truth.
My mindfulness practices helped me see the problem. Once I realize the harm in my ways, there are several paths I could follow: I could try to ignore it and move on; I could succumb to self-imposed shame and berate myself; or I could practice.
Yoga teaches ahimsa, or non-harming oneself or others. Buddhist precepts teach that loving speech and deep listening help lead to healing, transformation, and happiness in ourselves and for the world.
I had been studying and practicing these truths long before my daughters were born. I had wonderful intentions as a parent, but the daily practice of keeping my cool when my children pushed my buttons was so much more difficult than I’d ever imagined.
But I’m changing.
So, how am I practicing compassion, loving speech, and deep listening now with my girls?
This is what I have discovered:
- Self Care – To keep my equilibrium, I need enough sleep, exercise, and nourishing food; I need my gratitude journal, creative expression, and my daily meditation practice. It’s quite a list, I know! But if any of these elements are lacking, I’m more prone to frustration and an outburst of temper. If I don’t take care of myself, I have nothing to give.
- Self Inquiry – I’ve had to do some work looking inward – at my past choices and how I was raised, as well as facing my own insecurities and fears. I’ve read a lot of books to give me more understanding of myself and the journey of peaceful parenting.
- Intention Setting – Right now I’m trying to stop yelling at my children. To do this I’ve set the intention and implemented a plan. I announced my plan to the family (to hold myself accountable) and made a chart. Each day the girls can give me a smiley face if I don’t yell that day. For other goals, like practicing better listening, I’ve written affirmations (I listen to my children) to go over several times a day.
- Progress Not Perfection – This is my mantra. Sometimes it’s a struggle not be hard on myself, after all, I aspire to ideals of compassion and peacefulness, but I’m getting better…with practice.