There comes a time in everyone’s life where they stop and look back at past events. When doing so, they shock themselves by thinking what their past self would react seeing where they are at the moment. They might start to wonder what life would have been if they hadn’t gone to that party, or if they did volunteer at that hospital. Sadly, there are times when we wish we could’ve done something different or wished we didn’t do things that we did.
We often ask the question “Where am I”. Whether it’s when we are looking at the mirror at ourselves or cleaning up our rooms or looking at the clock when you just awoke. Buddhists have a very simple answer to this question. The present moment, that’s all that matters. When it comes to parenting, it’s very important.
Not many of us are in the moment when doing certain activities, however the option to choose so is always available. When was the last time you washed the dishes or cleaned the house and actually thought about what you were doing in that moment? Some of us just turn on the radio and listen to the music as we clean. Others just space out or day dream. Some might turn on the T.V. and glance every now and then.
If we resist the temptations of thinking about the past or what if scenarios, we’ll greatly reap the many benefits of the present and what is happening at the moment. Understanding what is around us, who is around us and what we are doing here and now is important. It is also important to be aware of what you say and how others react as well as vice versa. Buddha himself has a great poem dictating the present moment:
Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
In the very here and now,
The practitioner dwells
In stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait until tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
Awareness in Parenting and Children
When it comes to parenting, it is vital to be in the present moment. When the time comes when we have children, many of us will be put under stress. Whether this stress be that we have to constantly take care of the child or how much harder we will have to work to support the child. Focusing the mind on the present during these days is vital for the happiness of your children as well as yourself.
Living in the present allows us to be more relaxed and calm. Children have the great ability of being guides for us. They guide us to see who we really are and how we act. All children live in the present moment. They don’t think about the past as much as we do and they don’t worry about the uncertainty of the future. Their mind is focused on what is happening now. If we observe how they act more and more often, our children can teach us how to live a life (or live in moments) where we are emancipated from worry or fear about the future and be happy with what is happening now and where we are.
There are many parents who go through their parenting life who are on “auto pilot”. What this means is that they go through their days, weeks, months and years going to the store, buying groceries, buying diapers, baby formula and so forth, then return home, take care of the child and wait till they go to sleep, then they go off to do their other stuff.
Then, there are those parents who realize that what they’ve done, they weren’t really in the moment. They were always thinking of what to do tomorrow, or next week, or sometime in the future. They never really stopped and focused on the now. These parents begin to focus on their children and they become aware of what is happening. In the end, these parents are the happy ones because they get the delight of truly seeing their child grow up right in front of them and how they’ve changed because of the child.
Benefits of Awareness for Parents
With the ability to become more calm and relaxed when becoming more aware, awareness allows us to understand perspectives more efficiently and understand more about ourselves. A lot of times, we judge. We judge how we look, how other people look, how they act and so forth. Judging can sometime bring forth negative emotions that’ll add necessary stress in our lives. Applying Buddhist awareness allows us to understand our emotions and our judgments without actually standing behind them. It allows us to know and not do. It helps us let go of biases and thoughts and truly see what is.
The more we practice non-judgemental aproahces in life, the less stress will be put on us. Being a calm and aware parent is very important. When raising children, we shouldn’t instantly scold them. Rather, we should find out what happened and then proceed with the necessary measures. This allows us to fully indulge in seeing how our child grows right in front of us and allows us to understand that no matter how dark the night is, there will always be a sunny morning tomorrow.
What you can do to become a better parent
When taking care of your child or spending quality time with your child, be aware of what is happening in that moment
Practice not judging and having a non-judgemental attitude; view things the way they are with a non-bias opinion
Ask yourself how awareness can help you and why it’s important when taking care of your children or in any situation in life
Question and consider if you are truly in touch with parenthood (are you really being a parent or are you just being someone who just takes care of the child. Be proactive, get involved in your child’s life, be there for them when they need and be loving, caring, understanding and ultimately be their guide)
Believe that all moments happen for a reason and have value in them, focus on them when you need to and let go of them when you have to
Always tell yourself to be aware of your surroundings and what you are doing in the moment (think of a child walking into a new room for the first time glancing at objects surrounding them, then them coming to you and grabbing you by your hand towards a object of interest and asking you about it)
Know that you always have the choice in where your focus lie. When you encounter negative emotions, know when it’s time to indulge in how you feel, yet also know when it’s time to let go
Always question your current perspective to any given situation. Can you do anything to change the tide of the situation? Perhaps there are positive aspects to the situation
Always know that nothing can be perfect (you, your children, family and friends), but know that it is because of imperfectness that we strive to be great
Meditation (specifically breathing meditation) can help with becoming more aware.