As new parents, my husband and I have to be extra thoughtful when it comes to vacation plans with our nine-month-old daughter Alice. We want to make sure our plans are moving in a direction that’s in sync with our values.
This year, we decided to attend Sat Nam Fest in the Berkshires, and we’re bringing Alice along with us, of course! This August (9-13), Sat Nam Fest will host amazing teachers, musicians, workshops, classes, concerts, and delicious healthy meals at the Eastover Estate & Retreat. And lucky for us, Sat Nam Fest also offers childcare!
It’s not easy traveling with children, as we’ve discovered through experience. However, we feel very strongly that Sat Nam Fest is worth the trip, since we’re on a spiritual path, seeking to improve ourselves and our relationship through mediation and self-reflection. Unlike a trip to the beach with family (though the beach can be a great time too!), we’re hoping that Sat Nam Fest will be a time for us to “get tight” and “get real” with ourselves and our new identities as parents.
In preparation for Sat Nam Fest East, I’m taking a close look at areas in my life as a mother and a wife that need improvement, and I rediscovered this poem that the late Sri Gyan James McCaughan, a long-time teacher at Mount Madonna Institute, shared with me.
He once said that I was from the linage of Artemis. I’ve always been so grateful that he provided me with this fierce image of a women warrior, with her bow and arrow in the misty woods surrounded by animals. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and the natural environment. He explained that children are like the tip of the arrow, which you must spring forward into the world.
On Children by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Kahlil Gibran’s poem hangs on the wall of our family bedroom surrounded by a scrapbooked frame of colored paper and photos of beautiful things. I look to this often as a guidebook for how to be a parent and a partner with a conscious understanding of growing and evolving as individuals on a spiritual path.
As a wife and mother, how do I live Kahlil Gibran’s Poem?
Ever seeking, I spoke to my yoga teacher after class. I asked Anne Novak for advice on how to parent my daughter with non-attachment. She explained that as parents we must be the stable foundation, the spring board, for our children to jump from.
Sometimes I offer too much scaffolding. I say “no” too quickly, and I try to control my daughter’s environment too aggressively. I stop myself and, when possible, do a little yoga and meditation. I visualize Artemis, the archer with her bow. I put my body in archer pose. I just meditate for a moment, inhaling Sat and exhaling Nam. It helps me release control of the immediate situation and serves as my parenting “reset button.”
What does a healthy, conscious, and successful marriage and family look like?
Here of some mental blocks that show up for me and the teachings of Yogi Bhajan that I recall to support me in moving my thoughts from negative to positive:
Block: When I want my partner or child to practice yoga with me, and they don’t want to, I feel disappointed.
Teaching: Children and partners learn by example. I demonstrate through my actions that I am ready to do the work independent of others. Children have a “high potency antennae which records every vibration within their vicinity…very deeply,” according to Yogi Bhajan.
I recognize that although it may be my time to look inside and grow spiritually, it may not always be their time, and I have no right to tell them what to do. I can, however, enjoy practicing yoga for myself and observe the positive effects that my vibrational frequency has on my family. I visualize my open heart sharing a healthy, happy, holy vibrational frequency to everyone.
Block: Sometimes, I worry that I cannot live without my husband or children. I fear for their lives and worry too much about their safety. I feel anxious.
Teaching: “We use our children for security. Then our children use us for security, and life is a mess. Give children their own security: Truth and God.” – Yogi Bhajan. I think “I am enough,” instead of “you complete me”. I breathe in truth and breathe out faith in God. I think about being an archer, casting an arrow, and wanting it to land in a certain place. But, I realize that I cannot make it go unless I hold the bow stable, so that the arrow will follow my directions. This metaphor reminds me to be a fearless, stable role model and to give my daughter a true identity for herself.
Block: Sometimes, I react to my husband’s non-verbal communication that he’s annoyed, and I create stories in my mind. Anger seeps in, and I feel under-appreciated.
Teaching: Content and energy are the substance of all communication. Sometimes, my communication is energetically charged, and my content is scattered. My husband delights in my spontaneity, but it can be hard for him to “change hats” and shift from his intellectual brain to his emotionally sensitive brain. Sometimes, he needs reminders about his energetic (non-verbal) communication. Sometimes, his posture, eyes, stiff neck, and sharp hand gestures can communicate that he’s having trouble shifting gears from work to home life.
Yogi Bhajan taught that the best tool for a man to find harmony in his relationships with women is to master the art of being non-reactive. Men have a tendency to be unconscious and automatic reactors without reflection on consequences. Yogi Bhajan encouraged men to learn to allow women to express themselves unimpeded and realize that they need not react positively or negatively. Don’t interrupt, don’t react, don’t show annoyance, don’t show impatience or displeasure. He recommended that men put aside ego and their tendency to problem-solve. Instead, put God in every breath, a practice called simran, and provide women understanding and compassion through listening.
I encourage you to insert Yogi Bhajan’s teachings into your life and your relationships. By shifting your mindset, creating positive visualizations, focusing on your breath and mantra, remembering you priorities as a parent, remaining patient with your partner, and understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and differences, you can excel fearlessly as a partner and parent.
I hope to see all of you fearless Gods and Goddesses at Sat Nam Fest next month. Sat Nam!