Our parents used to say; ”Lasting relationships are made in heaven by gods and nurtured by humans on earth.” This saying applies to both of us. Telling our life story to our children and grand children has become a yearly ritual in our extended family. They have been always curious to know how two people from vastly different backgrounds came together and sustained an unbroken relationship for nearly sixty years. Every year we gladly and happily share our life story with them and we know how that experience has created a strong bond among ourselves. We are equally happy to share our life story with you though we do not know you. Such real life stories build an invisible but strong bond between people regardless of time, space, ethnic, religious and cultural boundaries. Our life story is a story of building such a bond beyond boundaries. It is indeed a Yoga of Relationship.
My Roots (Jagdish)
I (Jagdish) was born in a traditional poor Hindu Brahmin family and we, my parents, four brothers and three sisters, lived in a small house. Though we were poor, my father was highly respected in our community for his scholarship, his devotion to God and his integrity. He was a teacher, a poet, a storyteller, a devotional singer and a healer. He always stood on his ground against popular winds and was never afraid of telling and living the truth. He followed traditions without being bound by them. He had an abiding faith in God and he believed that God would never forsake him. We faced many hardships and there were times when we did not even have two meals a day. My mother was a woman of heart. She was a very sweet and giving person. My friends used to say that the piece of home made bread they ate at our home tasted sweeter than any other bread they had eaten because my mother made it. I never heard my mother complaining against my father for not having enough clothes or other material comforts. She always counted blessings and never cursed the darkness. Though from a material perspective we were poor, we were rich in what was important. I am deeply grateful my parents for teaching us such a great lesson in life.
We used to have evening chanting and meditation sessions in our house. I distinctly remember the devotional songs sung by my father and how joyfully we all sang along with him. Those two hours of chanting and singing devotional songs and meditating together laid a spiritual foundation in our life. I would never forget how my father lovingly offered his early morning hours to teach us and help us in our studies. He did not impose his wish, his way or his expectation upon us. He just offered his helping hand whenever we needed it. Such a helping stance made us approach him more to ask for help whenever we needed it. Another lesson he taught simply through his presence: it is the presence of a person that is more effective than words of advice, lectures or sermons.
My mother’s presence in our family was more serene, supportive and comforting. Her path was the path of devotion. Every morning she spent time in a little corner to worship and pray to Krishna- one of the ten incarnations of God in Hindu mythology. Her heart was filled with devotional joy, peace and deep contentment. Her presence was very calming. We could be totally ourselves in her presence. Her love was unconditional. She embodied forgiveness and kindness. When successes and failures would affect us she used to remind us to live like a lotus in the water-jalakamalavat- connected but nonattached and unbound, to be in the world and not of the world. She was a busy housewife and caretaker but she always found time to attend to our needs. To her we were more important than the work she was doing or the things around us. Once I drew a picture on a piece of paper. I was very eager to show it to my mom. She was busy cooking. She saw my eager face. She put aside what she was doing and paid her undivided attention to me. Her face mirrored my excitement, pride and delight. I was privileged to have such experiences that enriched my life.
Dr. J P Dave
Parenting is creating, sustaining and flourishing relationship with our children. Listed below are a few tried out ways of connecting our children when they face challenges in their life.
How to deal with this strong affliction affecting us in many ways? To vent or not to vent is the question.
Anger is energy. How do we use it, how do we manage it? This is a big challenge for all of us.
There are four ways we deal with anger: Release angry feelings in an intense and explosive way. Type A personalities display this pattern and these patterns become habitual. We may describe them as “hot heads”. Then there are those who consciously suppress such feelings and stuff them. We may describe them as “suppressers”. There are those who unconsciously suppress their anger-filled feelings. We may describe them as “repressors”. People who stuff their angry feelings and do not deal with them constructively often display passive aggressive behaviors. And there are those who mindfully manage their angry feelings in constructive ways. We may describe them as “cool heads”.
There are times to hold on and there are times to let go. Our growth, like a tree, requires both roots and branches-the horizontal and vertical dimensions of growth. Like trees, we need to have barks to protect ourselves. We need protective structures and boundaries as we go through the delicate process of growth. Like trees, we need to let go of the barks when they are no more needed. We need to let go of our protective defenses when they become restrictive and constrain our growth. It is not easy to step out of our comfort zone to make room for further growth. It is wise for us not to carry the boat on our head when we are no more in the river. Such an awakened state of self-awareness frees us from the trap we create in our lives.
It is difficult to get out of that zone that makes us feel secured and at ease. We also get stuck with the painful experiences and feelings of our past relationships and our hurts. We all have the shadow that part of ourselves we do not like or are scarred of. Running away from me, hiding it from myself and from the significant people in my life is not the right way to heal myself and grow from my experiences. I am the one who is keeping me in my prison.
We all go through the dual aspects of ourselves: wanting and not wanting, liking and disliking, ebb and flow, darkness and light, gains and losses, hope and despair, life and death. How do I transcend this dualistic mode of living to become a whole and an integrated person? This is a challenge for all of us. In order to be illumined, I need to go through the dark side, the shadow, of myself. Avoiding it, fighting it, hiding it or running away from it is not the right answer. I need to face it, go through it and release it, let it go. We transcend, go beyond the stuck energy within and between ourselves This is a process of freeing me form me. This is the ultimate freedom. This self-work is the key to living fully. It is described in different ways, such as” Be, here and now”, “Living in the Being Zone”, “The Now Consciousness”. It is usually” a road less traveled”.
Parenting our children has become quite difficult in the fast moving, complex and stressful world we live in. Enjoying carefree, safe and stress free childhood has become difficult for our children. We love our children and want the best in their lives. We are interdependent and interconnected. What affects our children affects us. What affects us affects our children. We need a stress-free and mindful mindset to see, understand and respond to our children.
Mindfulness Parenting offers us such a new perspective for working on ourselves and relating
to our children. Mindfulness simply means paying nonjudgmental and compassionate attention to the full spectrum of our inner world and awareness of the inner world of our child. It is all about cultivating our attention and awareness of the field of our experience and our child’s experience or some specific elements of the field of the experience. Such a mindset helps us to be authentic, trustworthy and dependable in our child’s eyes and helps the child to be authentic, trustworthy and dependable in our eyes. Healthy relationship grows and blossoms in such an understanding, authentic and nurturing environment- an environment in which we do not react but respond to each other. We feel cared for and not neglected, accepted and not rejected, healed and not hurt.
The ingredients of mindfulness are nonjudgmental awareness, calmness, clarity and compassion. When we practice mindfulness to work on ourselves and to work on inter-personal issues that cause and continue frustration, irritation, despair and anxiety, we come to a clearer and empathic understanding of each other. We join hands with each other to remove the walls between each other and build a bridge of empathic understanding and make wise choices to resolve the distressing issues. We use our energy creatively and constructively.
1. In a hyper connected world, bombarded by multiple forms of stimulation, how can we be aware of the quiet gifts that the present moment has to offer? What are those gifts? Cultivating mindfulness practice can be a powerful way to train our minds and tune into the beauty of here and now. When we take a few minutes to observe our breath, or eat a meal with silent attentiveness or read a book with full attention the subtle impact of such mindfulness practice carries far reaching ripples, within and without.
2. Mindfulness tunes out unwanted distractions. It helps the wandering mind or the monkey mind to be centered and focused. When we multitask, we weaken our brain’s ability to filter out important from irrelevant inputs. Taking time to be mindful can regulate brain waves that focus the mind and screen out unwanted distractions.
3. Mindfulness calms the mind. Mindfulness practice releases the tension in the body and also the mind. Mindfulness practice can help us embrace our worries, our fears, our anger and that is very healing. We need to genuinely learn the art of resting, relaxing and that way restoring our energy. Mindfulness practice reduces rumination, anxiety and stress.
4. Mindfulness inspires us to be compassionate and altruistic. “It is in giving we receive” –Saint Francis of Assisi. A growing body of brain research shows that we are hard wired to be kind. Mindfulness practice enables us to drop into our natural inclination to help. Research at Northeastern and Harvard studied the link between mindfulness and compassion. Extend your loving kindness to yourself, to others.-Words of wisdom from wisdom traditions.
5. Mindfulness helps us feel good about helping others. It also ignites a deeper joy within us while we do it. Research shows that helping behavior could be predicted by two specific aspects of mindfulness: the ability to focus on the present moment-present- focused attention- and maintaining a non-judgmental acceptance of thoughts and experiences. Help others as you help yourself. Love your neighbor as you love yourself- Words of wisdom from wisdom traditions.
6. Mindfulness enables us to show our authenticity. By practicing mindfulness, we develop a more nuanced awareness of who we truly are. We need to feel in order to heal. We need to learn to accept ourselves compassionately and non-judgmentally in order to discover and know our true self. All wisdom traditions remind us “to know thyself.” It is by losing yourself, you find yourself.-Words of wisdom from wisdom traditions.
Ingredients of Healthy and Peaceful Relationship:
1. Connection, bonding, healthy attachment
2. Self-regulation. Regulate you own emotions.
3. Accept all emotions. Limit actions.
4. Empathize. Acknowledge child’s perspective. The child feels understood and feels safe to express his emotions and feelings. Listen to the child’s feelings.
5. Listen to your child’s vulnerable and threatening feelings. Encourage to express them.
6. Anger is mostly a defense against deeper feelings of hurt and disappointment.
7. Do not take it personally and resist the urge to escalate or retaliate. Mantra: This is not an emergency. Pause, breathe and respond. Do not react.
8. Don’t send a child away to calm down.
9. Help your child to be aware of her triggers and warning signs.
10. Teach him to pause and breathe.
11. Teach constructive problem solving.
Happiness and delight
Empathy and compassion
Self- esteem and self –worth
I can do it.
“Reactivity is enslavement. Responsibility is freedom….Taking responsibility is not accepting blame…It simply means consciously responding to the situation. Once you accept the responsibility, you will invariably start exploring ways to address the situation. You will look for solutions… your ability to craft your life situations will keep enhancing itself.
If you look at your life closely, you will find that you have done the most idiotic and life-negative things when you were angry…it is singularly unpleasant-for you and for those at the receiving end. It is also counterproductive and therefore inefficient.
Stress is entirely self-created and self-inflicted. Once you take charge of your inner life, there is no such thing as stress. You only mess up your situations by getting angry. Once you see that clearly, you’ve taken the first step toward change… in a state of anger, you are literally poisoning your system. When you are angry, your chemistry is altered, and your system turns toxic. The choice is always before you: to respond consciously to the present; or to react compulsively to it…. Responsibility is born in awareness, in consciousness. Reactivity is born in unawareness, unconsciousness. The first is freedom, the second is enslavement…Being responsible is taking ownership of your life.
Responsibility is not reaction but is not action either. Responsibility and action belong to different dimensions. The ability to respond gives you the freedom to act. It also gives you the freedom not to act. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your life… Responsibility is not compulsive action. It offers you the choice of action. Action has to be judiciously performed.
If responsibility is “response-ability,” the capacity to be responsive to situations can be limitless.
Quotations for Reflections selected by Dr. J P Dave
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our own response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.- Viktor F. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Himself
This idea that we can learn underneath our emotions, if we feel a sense of guilt, if we feel a sense of anger, there’s often something that is instructive to us. Now, the very clear distinction here is that our emotions are data, not direction. We can always learn from them, but we don’t need to obey them or dominated by them.-Susan David, author of Emotional Agility
Exercise: Take your time to settle down and let the strong emotion or feeling you have experienced recently or you are experiencing now show up in your mind. Be centered and consider the emotions to be data rather than directions. What do they tell you about yourself? What is the impact of the other person’s behavior on you? How do you choose to respond and not to react? Be the change you want to see in the other person.
Recall an event where you were derailed by your negative or destructive emotion. Set your intention and apply mindfulness to respond rather than react. Discern the signposts, the core values that you care about in your relationship with the other person. What is the other person telling you, is implying what he values and needs by expressing his anger? What he really wants you to hear? How will you help him to listen to his own underneath want or value?
Be mindful of minimizing or pushing or rationalizing your thoughts and emotions away. Let us not second guess when things go wrong. Let us not put it aside or forget about it or ignore it and wish or hope things will be all right. Let the thoughts and emotions show up. How do we relate to the content, how do we deal with which is critical. Do we allow ourselves to get stuck with them or be bound by them? If we do not relate to them mindfully, it will perpetuate the harmful cycle. The opportunity to learn and grow from the experience will be lost.`````````````
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