Monday, November 22, 2010

Today and Yesterday: A Thanksgiving Challenge

The mystics and wise people of today and yesterday often speak of the now.  Admittedly, I have found myself annoyed by this concept in the past.  I agree, that a clear mind brings you into the now, but no one was ever really explaining how to get a clear mind...or what a clear mind was.  I practiced meditation, yoga, read books, found time to be surrounded by nature, observed my kids...all were sometimes beneficial, but I still felt uncertain.  Then I learned of Mr. Sydney Banks: 
"When such people refer to the now, they mean the personal mind is free from the contaminants of yesterday's memories and fears...In clearing our minds, we may have to give up something to receive something."
And, of course, Dr. Roger Mills:
"If we dwell on the past, these thoughts become our outlook, our self esteem, our self-image, now.  Negative thoughts from the past only harm us when we allow them to create interference.  Drop the attachment to ingrained habits of thinking."
Like all wise souls, these two spoke of the same thing, and even completed the others statements. For me, what they did is offer me clarity and the realization that I am in total control of my experience.  At first this information is scary, and I admit that I took baby steps initially.  I only allowed myself so much enlightenment at a time!  It quickly became clear to me that I must take a real leap of faith...and then another, and another...if my goal was harmony, well being, peace of mind, fabulous parenting, etc.

In my life, dropping my ingrained thinking involved the idea of forgiveness and even empathy for people who had hurt me in the past.  I did it (and continue to do so) quite naturally and with ease and even grace at times!  This happened, because I know that my negative thinking and fixed grip on the past only hurts me.  It makes me miss what is real right now & it makes me feel upset regardless of what is true now

Dropping old thinking also required me to take full responsibility for my experience in life.  I simply cannot be hurt by people in the same way that I was before I understood my own thinking.  I so much more quickly, find my wisdom and am able to have a new perspective.  My ways of functioning yesterday are not good enough today. 

Ask yourself how often you spend each day thinking about hardships of the past or calling up old memories that are hard to tolerate?  How often does this type of thinking allow you to create new fears or negativity for your future?  When was the last time you allowed your five senses to notice the now?

This Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to look around at what you are thankful for.  Take it all in...taste it, see it, smell it, feel it, hear it.  If you find yourself in thoughts from the past or worries of the future, simply remind yourself that you got here by your own trusted a thought you should have ignored.  Distract yourself, and zoom you'll be back to the now!

Friday, November 5, 2010

For Parents: teaching and learning from your children

Children are the best teachers.  For them it's so simple.  They just see things from such a clear vantage point.  A beautiful example of this came this morning.  My daughter is almost 10 and she has been showing the early tell-tale signs of hormone surges.  She becomes rude and sassy, but is also sensitive and easily hurt.  We've been talking about it a lot...I've been trying to listen carefully. 

This morning, it happened...the tide was high (to quote Blondie).  She remained angry and on edge on the walk to school.  I listened and told her I loved her...I asked her to be in charge of how seriously she was taking her own thinking.  I pointed out examples of where her perception did not match the facts of the morning events.  Still, she glared at me and fought back tears.

As we entered the school hallway, I began to be flooded with guilty thoughts as I saw all of the other happy children with their parents.  Maybe I was favoring my son that morning?  Maybe I am too strict?  Maybe I was to blame for the entire mood of the family?  Then it happened...hallway magic...the greatest experience.

A new friend of my daughter's said hello with a ginormous smile.  You could feel behind her words how much she loved my daughter and how excited she was to see her.  Contagiously, my daughter, son and myself were all smiling and feeling much an instant.  My daughter said hello back, and her voice sounded different.  I looked at her...she was beaming.  Her smile was bright, sincere, and in all parts of her face.  They made plans to play at recess.  With that, we all walked on happily...holding hands, and looking very much like the other families I had observed in the halls.

I should have known what my daughter needed...what we all needed was a distraction for our senses.  I know enough about thought to know that there's always a new one around the corner, and when you feel bad it's time to drop the old and try on the new.  I was just working really hard to make my daughter see the logic in this and act accordingly.  That was exhausting and unsuccessful.  Instead, her sweet friend gave her a new thought to consider.  Like work needed. 

Here's the thing that got me thinking...thinking about an idea I had often while in graduate school when certain diagnoses were discussed.  This new friend of my daughter's is considered "special needs."  This is the PC term & I got to thinking about it while walking home.  To me this girl was clearly special.  She lit my daughter up like Christmas morning.  I was sure that she had a most beautiful effect on all who crossed her path.  Yet, this society has dubbed her as someone who needs special things. 

Is there something wrong with her, or is there something wrong with a society which cannot accept this child just as she is?

I say, that we've got it wrong.  We adults have it wrong.  The children accept each other openly and see each other's strengths.  We put labels on someone.  We drag our feet, refusing to open our minds, rather than bridging the gap.  We forget that we are all connected and that we all have the fundamentals in common.  It is something to consider for each of us.  How often have you made decisions about a person based on fear, lack of information, or just based on habitual thinking?  How often have you made decisions based on  feelings of compassion, understanding, joy?  Which process felt better?

I would like to thank my daughter for teaching me, once again, and in her own perfect way.  I would like to thank my son for skipping along and holding my hand as he always does.  AND, I would like to thank my daughter's new friend for being just like she is.  She reminded me of some very important lessons today.