Commitment: Saying Yes to the Crucible of Family Life

“In commitment we say yes to the unfolding, impenetrable arc of uncertainty. 

Love does not arise, abide or dissolve in connection with any particular feeling.

Love has instead become a container within which we live. 

Through time, riding mysterious waves of passion, agression and ignorance, 

we begin to live within love itself. 

Each time we open up, extend ourselves,

accept what is offered or step beyond our comfort zones, 

the structure is reinforced. 

And if you are looking for a crucible in which to heat compassion, 

marriage is a good one…”

– From “I Do?” by Susan Piver

Over the holidays my mother handed me a piece of card stock paper with a poem typed on it. It looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place where on earth I knew it from. She said, “Don’t you remember? Its from your wedding invitation!” I couldn’t believe it. It has only been nine years and I’d completely forgotten about this poem and how central it had been to the spirit of how my husband and I were wanting to enter into our marriage vows. It was just what I needed to read again, except this time instead of the word marriage in the last line, I inserted ‘family life.’

Indeed family life (marriage included) does feel like a crucible in which to heat compassion, as well as a place where I certainly ride the waves of passion, aggression and ignorance while also simultaneously relaxing into a container of love. The commitment to stay present and keep showing up in the spirit of connection is the glue that often holds it all together for me – especially in the moments where I feel profoundly disappointed, angry or frustrated.

The word ‘commit’ has its origins in the Latin committere, “to unite, connect, combine; to bring together.” Indeed it often feels like the commitment to one another, and to the broader values of love, intimacy and connection, is what brings us together and back together after being apart as we weave our way through the ups and downs of our days. I notice with my six-year-old that there is (after a great deal of work) finally a safety net that we both seem to relax into during and after our most intense moments of conflict. I’ve practiced telling him again and again “I love you no matter what…we all make mistakes…” And, I am sure to own my part of wrong-doing in moments of discord. We can now seamlessly express our anger, have our outbursts, share our disappointments and frustrations with what went wrong and what we wish went differently, apologize to one another, and end with “I love you. Let’s start again.” (For those who have been following this blog over the years, you know what a journey it has been to get here!)

Today the role of commitment shone clear as I took some space after raising my voice after 10 ‘kind’ and ‘gentle’ prompts. It was the ‘same old, same old’ familial conflict: older sibling messing with younger sibling, mischief underway, constant bantering teetering on the edge of physical harm with the resulting screams and cries of younger sibling striking me like nails on a chalkboard. During my moment of space before re-joining the flow of family life with young children, I take a pause to just feel what I feel. I’m disappointed in how the day has unfolded. I’m disappointed in my son’s behavior. I’m also disappointed in myself for raising my voice. I know apologies are in order on both sides, and what helps to pull me back together in order to step forward as my best self is the experience of feeling married to the container (or crucible) of what has become 24-hour-a-day family life coctail. I am wedded to the intentions I (and we) have set over the years per how we want to live together as a family unit. I am committed to holding on to the path of parenting and family life as one of integrity, where I can model humility and vulnerability – and I can own up to my own mistakes while also calling forth the best in my children.

My oldest knocks at the bathroom door and says, “Mama, can you apologize first?” Somehow this makes it easier for him to then apologize for “not listening” and “messing with his brother.” He then asks me, “Do you need a hug or anything?” It has taken time, practice and patience, but slowly over the course of these six years since he entered my life we’ve figured out how to communicate. The path to get here has certainly followed an ‘arc of uncertainty,’ where I’ve had to set aside many assumptions and grapple with feelings of failure and inadequacy in the face of what family life demands at times.

And then, Susan’s words shine through: Love has become a container within which we live. Through time, riding mysterious waves of passion, agression and ignorance, we begin to live within love itself. Each time we open up, extend ourselves, accept what is offered or step beyond our comfort zones, the structure is reinforced. 

Indeed this is the gift that commitment offers up. There is the container of love, yes, that is there to relax into when the commitment itself is fed and nourished. There are also the crazy waves of joy and tenderness coupled with exhaustion and frustration. There is the overwhelming appreciation followed by the intense aggravation. There is the utter chaos of constant movement and noise followed by the quiet moments of snuggles before sleep. There is the fierce kick to the shins right on the heels of the most precious moment of sibling love.  And, it all happens in one day.

Family life at its closest (and with young children) is not for the faint of heart. There is no seclusion here, no retreating to quiet, familiar places. There are always fresh invitations, fresh wounds and conflicts, and fresh moments offering fodder for appreciation and seeing with new eyes. There is always a wave to ride. Sometimes jumping off has its allure – but then I realize that the true gifts of staying commited only come to fruition over time and after the hard work of staying present, particularly through difficult spaces. The true gifts are only often revealed when we say a loud Yes! to the crucible of family life – hurt feelings, wild joy, messy chaos, arc of profound uncertainty, and all.

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The Borders of Choosing Love: What Place Does Anger Take?

“Conflict and tension are as much a part of the human condition as interdependence is. There are times we have to have conflict, and tension has to exist to bring something else into being. But they have to coexist with a deep sense of connection and shared destiny.” -Ai-jen Poo

I’ve been reading Dr. Laura Markham’s Aha! Parenting updates. She signs off each of her columns with “choose love.” I of course want to choose love. And, I’ve been reconciling what has felt like a dichotomy between the traditional expressions of loving-kindness and anger as a parent. You see, the truth is: I get angry with my son. Some of his antics infuriate me. I’ve been practicing with how I respond, meandering clumsily on a journey towards integration. I’m riding along that border of choosing love and I want to know: what place does anger take? How can I express the energy of anger from a place of union, connection and integration?

The Hindu goddess Kali comes to mind. She is the fierce consort to Shiva (upon whose body she often stands). She is black in honor of being the first creation before light. She is often said to be “beyond time.” She often has blood dripping from her mouth and wields a sword for lopping off heads. Her fierce, forceful energy isn’t relegated to shadows. Instead, she points to the dynamic aspect of creation: the consort to “being-bliss-consciousness.” For me, she points towards a creative integration of seemingly conflicting energies. She is a protector. She can still be fierce. If something needs destroying, or if a boundary needs to be set, she’ll likely wield her sword while dancing.

I too do a daily dance with my son. My anger with him is rooted in the energy required to set boundaries. Sometimes, when I look carefully, there is a deep sadness beneath it. There is also sometimes a texture of indignation: the interpretation of my son’s actions as a personal affront. How can he be doing these things? Why does he keep pushing boundaries? How can he keep hurting his brother? There is also confusion. How should I respond? What does he need? How on earth can I keep ‘choosing love,’ even when I’m being kicked, scratched or spit on?

One thing I’ve landed upon is that choosing love doesn’t mean rejecting anger and all the accompanying subterranean emotions. Choosing love does mean prioritizing equanimity as often as possible and holding a space for all emotions arising. Choosing love also means staying intimate. It means staying connected, even when setting a fierce boundary. Choosing love does not mean altogether rejecting forceful energy (although beware: force is too often misplaced and misused).  As the images of Kali conjures, dynamism is an appropriate response to certain tensions. The key is to be in a dance of integration of opposing energies – the primordial dance of creation and destruction. This is the ultimate ground of union. (Which is likely why some  gravitate towards fighting in order to be “close”).

When I pay attention with the above insights in mind, the dance with my son reveals a different narrative. Through his constant testing of boundaries I hear him asking for reassurance. Will you love me even when I am anxious and confused? Will you join with me even in these sticky places? Will you stay with me even when I push you away? Do you still love me even when I am a horror to myself? The answer must be yes – even when coupled necessarily with the energy of a forceful self-protection or protection of my other children. (By this I mean a firm holding back of kicks or hits, or firm words of redirection). Some things do require the energy of destruction. We can always begin with a peaceful and patient joining, rooted in our equanimity – as well as be prepared to dance into the more tricky realm of fierceness – holding the proverbial sword that slices though ignorance: not to harm, but to stop the rise of nonsense and needless suffering.

The “low road” of parenthood shows up when we succumb to isolation and punishment. It is when the path of union has been lost (even momentarily). “You don’t love me!” my son says at times. I realize in these moments he points me to the places in my heart that have yet to relax into my infinite capacity to love. He shines light on the places within me not yet residing in ultimate union and intimacy with everything that is arising (particularly the messy, miserable, frustrating moments of parenting). I believe he will mirror this place to me again and again until I meet him from a place of no-separation, from a place of ultimate and unconditional acceptance, free of conditions.

And so, I dance my way into expressing the energy of anger from a place of union and integration. The only “space” taken must still be together in spirit – where time slows and response can be masterful. The only pain results from how close we want to be but haven’t yet grown into yet. As Ai-jen Poo says, “There are times we have to have conflict, and tension has to exist to bring something else into being. But they have to coexist with a deep sense of connection and shared destiny.” Aha! Indeed.

Fall In Love Now

Bored?

How can you possibly be bored

when there are a

million

details

to fall in love with

in this moment

and this

and this

and this…?

I will tell you the antidote to Boredom.

Let the veil surrounding your Heart

break into a thousand pieces.

Feel the urgency of your

Death

and let yourself crack

at the recognition that everything you hold dear

will vanish

like morning fog in sunlight.

Look into the eyes of your Beloved and fall

fully

into the pain that breaks her heart

and wonder again and again

whether you are really feeling

anything.

I’ll tell you the antidote to Boredom.

Marvel at the curl of hair,

the splatter of light mixing with shadow,

the flash of eyes,

the memory of your most sublime moment

and how it passed.

There is nothing that is mundane –

only the mind and heart that hasn’t yet broken

in the face of the

vulnerable preciousness

of Life

Right

Now.

Know this:

You stay there because you are afraid of the

shaky

aching

vulnerability

that rumbles unknowingly

beneath the self-reliant story.

The antidote to boredom is to

Fall

in Love

Now.

What is Most Important?

A yoga practice in April led me to the following answers to the above question. My future sister-in-law led the practice and invited us to answer the question “what is most important?” The first glimpse of an answer that emerged was spiritual practice. Why? Because this is how I pay homage to Life. This is how I stay rooted in living my most revered state. Without practice I drain an essential life force. I have less to give. It is a foundation from which to move.

Which leads to Embodiment. As I move into a standing yoga asana I feel how the busy week and overwhelming experience of responsibility without enough nourishment not only depletes, it also makes living from a place of feeling, intention and love more difficult. My hands feel farther away. My legs feel more foreign. This contrasts with an experience of integration and flow: where hands and feet are expressions of intention and grace, gentleness and care.

Which leads me to Love. What fills the body/mind in my most revered state? What is practiced? Love. 

So what is most important? A spiritual, day to day, moment to moment practice of embodied (full-bodied) love.

What is most important? The expression of and practice of full-bodied love, even when meeting life’s difficult and sometimes depleting moments. Being love when the rubber hits the road and we are stretched to our limits. Being love when we are at the end of our proverbial ropes. What is most important? Filling our cups of nourishment and practice so that we can draw on vast reservoirs of love that will sustain us in times of need and serve as the primary offering that we give outwards to our families and the world…

Living Into the Answers

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves… Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903

This passage always struck me. A few years ago a woman asked me about how I maintain spiritual practice since having a baby. I answered her, to my dismay, that parenthood had ushered me into a realm where that question was less relevant. It didn’t matter anymore how much I was outwardly expressing a yoga practice or meditation practice or any practice for that matter. Instead, parenthood was akin to living the answers, giving me the opportunity I needed to live the practice, daily, moment to moment. Of course life itself always presents this opportunity, but parenthood crystallized this revelation. Just as Rilke suggested, I hadn’t realized that it was happening. 10 years ago I was preoccupied with finding a path and acquiring knowledge and learning as if they were commodities. I was searching. Wandering. Traveling. Reading a lot of non-fiction. Going to yoga classes three times a week, spending time on retreats and meeting with a meditation instructor. I was vegetarian, an avid hiker, trying to forgive myself for past mistakes, and altogether incredibly preoccupied with personal growth and transformation. I call it the “spiritually eager” phase. Perhaps I was trying to “get somewhere” other than where I already was.

The New Year prompted me to reflect on how things have changed over the past decade (a psychologist on NPR suggested this is a better measure of tracking change in your life rather than focusing on a new year’s resolution or looking at your life in the context of only one year passing). I made lists of then versus now. At first I was overcome with nostalgia. Wasn’t I a more well-rounded person in my past? Wasn’t I more disciplined? Active? Conscientious? Connected to nature? Wasn’t this current parenthood phase less outwardly manifesting a spiritual practice or ‘study?’ Wasn’t I cooped up inside too much? And then it struck me again: no, wait. Since crossing the threshold into motherhood and embarking on the journey of home and family-making, I’m actually living into the answers of all I’d been asking throughout my life leading up to this moment. Here I am. There is nowhere else to go, no one else to be but myself. And, more importantly, there is no time to worry about it. (What a profound gift!)

As parents aiming to embody values and intention, we can often forget that parenting actually becomes a perfect place where one’s practice can unfold. The canvas of life is unrolled and family relationships become a means through which we live into the answers of life’s questions, searches and invitations. Family life is a culmination like no other: the fruit of practice comes to bear. Patience is tested. Limits are met. With fewer ‘breaks’ and less time for musing and contemplation in the conventional sense, all of the sudden we are thrown head first into a crash course in how to live out the intricacies of one’s values and intentions amidst what is often riddled with great complexity and intensity.

With less leisure and less license to live my days how I want to (for ME), I’ve entered another realm which requires me to be united with something beyond myself. What I do I do for Other. My reserves are continually tested. More time is spent functionally, too. All of the sudden living into the ‘answers’ means moving functionally with joy and intention (even when I may not like the task at hand) and maintaining an inward, centered, present focus even when attention and energy is perennially called outward. The trick is to not separate daily life and family life from practice. How often do we fall into the dualistic thinking of “if only I could exercise more, then…” or “if only I could meditate/pray/practice more, then…” Living into the answers means living seamlessly and without discrimination between tasks;  This is all practice. This is all a culmination: how we show up with others (especially our children and spouses) when we are exhausted and at our limit, how we find a way to get what needs to be done done even when we are at the end of our rope, how we find compassion for our children even when they are driving us to the edge, how we pull dinner off, how we make up our 100th story at bedtime, even when our eyes are closing.

All of the sudden we are living into the great endurance test of Love. What carries us? Mystery. What carries us? Love. No more questions, no more looking. Just here: living, breathing, loving, caring. Just here: feeling the miracle of life while watching our children fall asleep…

Love Is A Practice

Braeden is 3 months old and I pause to take note of the threshold beyond ‘newborn’ that we have crossed. These months a “toss up” quality prevailed: rootless structure, flailing at times under a hot sun that broiled my new mama brain to smithereens. The combination of summer heat and light coupled with new family dynamics often gave way for disorientation and chaos to bloom, even with love simultaneously taking root. The frenzied moments of adjustment were like hot flashes in a pan. There were hard moments of truth to move through. Tears shed. Voices raised. Rowan reckoning with wanting to send his little brother back to the belly (“Mama, next time, could you please try to put Braeden back in your belly so I don’t have to feel so alone?”). Then, all of the sudden, a lot of angst and confusion was metabolized, burned up and giving way for something else to take hold. Staying with difficult emotions and not forcing them into underground shadows, suddenly we’ve turned a corner into a new realm of emergent fondness between brothers and an accompanying deep sigh of relief amongst parents.

Love is a slow and steady practice, particularly in these early days of family bonding and adjusting. As parents we can help foster this practice of love amongst siblings, even when love doesn’t always look as we expect it to. We don’t typically fall in love overnight. Instead, an experience of love takes time, weaving through peaks and valleys and often complex terrain. Can we love what we want to initially push away? Can we practice seeing a reflection of someone like ourselves in those we don’t like at first? Every time Rowan acts out towards Braeden, I tell him to look at his eyes; I say again and again “this is a person! He gets sad just like you!” Staying in connection, empathy begins to surface. Love begins to show a face that is more compassionate and less edgy.

The early days of welcoming a new brother for Rowan showed me that perhaps the practice of Love integrates everything. Love moves its way through the shadows and pain to emerge in a place of more integrated acceptance of what is, even with resistances still present. It is here that I find myself and it is this place that Rowan reflects too. Both of us do the dance of love and surrender and love and resistance in different ways, together. Me resisting the myriad expressions of his challenges and he resisting the presence of his new brother and all the implications therein. Family becomes the hard crucible of transformation that so many of us want to run from. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get away. Day in and day out I am up against the ever-present challenges of required guidance and patience. I slowly enter into a new realm of practiced love between family members, where I catch glimpses of Rowan smiling at his little brother in the rear view mirror. Like a slow blooming plant, the cultivation of love is underway. The key is to keep nourishing the roots of kindness and compassion, even when other emotions may be taking the reins.

So too with other situations in life: we can stay connected, practice love – watering the roots of slow growth into a familiar comfort of being. Rather than proverbially pining for some other thing or condition, we can let go into what is in order to radically transform.

“I’ll Spin You Back Into Love”

Dreaming of five cups,

Each filled with a different longing:

That Love be recognized,

Silence (mutual) permeating

Open heart facing me, a mirror

Reflecting, Sharing from deep waters

Flowing expression (received and fully given).

“I’ll spin you back into Love,” says Hafiz,

While the skin around my mouth,

Turning into topaz in sunlight

Reaches upward toward the sky.

Smiling now,

Realizing

What I want is to share my experience

Of the Divine in small, ordinary

(expansive)

moments:

Living fully into my longing

Like the blissful drink of water under bright, burning sunlight

And Gratitude

That the dance of the sacred is infinite and swirling in every molecule

Forming my body’s perfect imprint in this world.

Conscious Discipline and Planting a Compass of Love…

I wrote a few months ago on Discipline as an Act of Love and continue to muse about loving ways to share life lessons with a two-year old (and beyond). I came back to Adi Da’s book on conscious parenting, Look at the Sunlight on the Water, and wanted to share excerpts from some of his teachings.

  • Conscious discipline has to be grounded in a meaningful practice. There has to be a consistent ground to which we can return, and from which we can draw, in moments when redirection is required. A deep breath, a reconnection with intention, a slowing down of words as I speak…This is when I feel most content with moments of discipline and redirection.
  • Discipline can be an expression of bodily happiness instead of the more typical expressions of annoyance, frustration, anger, impatience. Instead of creating the conditions for shame and guilt and a sense of pervasive ‘wrongness,’ we can attract our children to behave with love and kindness as the root when we embody it ourselves (even when we are horrified that our child just pulled another child’s hair out!)
  • We don’t have to bind energy and attention around a behavior as a ‘problem.’ Instead, it just is as it is – and we can focus more on how this moment of redirection is an opportunity for growth.
  • Discipline can be a “bodily demonstration of forceful love.” This takes practice. How can we be swift, direct, clear and firm, while also embodying the vast force of love? Instead of anger rooted in resistance, how can we embody patience rooted in acceptance, while also being firm and direct enough to be heard?
  • We can make a positive calling for higher wisdom and maturity. Rather than moralizing or a ‘verbal attack,’ how can we make our moments of discipline an expression of a loving demand for greater presence? Without suggesting our children should be ‘more’ or different – how can we call them towards embodying kindness and patience? I ask the question because I am walking into the answer. Sometimes I find the mark. Sometimes I miss it miserably. This is part of my practice. Hold the intention and let what comes, come.
  • Our actions and our words can establish our children in a condition of equanimity.This means we also have to establish ourselves in an ongoing condition of equanimity.
  • Express a profound commitment to staying in relationship. Rather than push away or isolate, stay in relationship with one another just as you stay in relationship with what is. Talk it through. Slow down. Take time to step away together and have a teaching moment. A ‘time out’ can still be time with a parent at the side: time for reflection, talking over what happened, taking a step back to reflect on how we want to act moving forward. Before re-entering a situation there can be support, love, the re-assurance of not being alone, while also having taken time to go over what is expected in order to continue.

If the flow of our homes and relationships can be rooted in equanimity, then the ground of kindness can flourish. From equanimity grows the ability to truly serve others and feel outwards beyond oneself. For me, this is the aim of ‘discipline:’ the condition for a life of service and contentment, where one chooses what one does not because it is the status quo and not because “I told you so” – but because the thoughtful seeds of an inner and abiding compass rooted in love have been planted.

 

 

Discipline is an Act of Love

And now:  Discipline.  And I mean it not in the way it is traditionally understood. (Don’t most of you cringe a bit at the word?  Isn’t it often associated with the uncomfortable space of trying to set boundaries, enforce limits, find a hardline?  Does anyone else have memories of teachers holding up the wooden paddle in threat?).

It feels like a huge bite to chew on, but something I have to wrestle with as my son becomes his own personality: freer and freer into his own responses and preferences.  I ask myself over and over again, how can I parent in a way that creates the conditions for equanimity, balance and service to others and one’s environment?  How to transmit and translate all my personal musings and practice into tangible parenting strategy? How to foster sensitivity rather than hyperactivity?  And even more so, how to invite children into a realm of mystery, reverence and self-transcendence?

Enter Structure.  Enter Discipline.  Enter Love.

The word discipline comes from the Latin disciplina, meaning “instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge.” When I engage discipline in this way, I can feel into the possibility of daily disciplines pointing towards greater teachings I’d like to impart. Beyond the ‘hardline’ and the ‘boundary,’ is there not a realm of discipline that draws on the great wisdom traditions?  Calls forth our most realized understandings of relationship and love?  I keep searching for the inspiring examples while out with Rowan: the patient, present parents holding space for challenge and growth while still speaking from a place of love and respect (and I do see you!) – but am often confused when faced with the somewhat prevalent examples of yelling and shaming.

I begin to muse on how to create the ground for discipline (learning, knowledge) to flourish:  a sacred order in the midst of the ebbs and flows of modern American life, beginning with ‘quiet time’ each morning as an opportunity to model a practice space and self-regulation -inviting Rowan to join.  We also invite Rowan to join in every possible ‘work’ opportunity – giving him full participation and responsibility in the work of the household so that he will hopefully feel part of a greater flow of meaningful and purposeful work: his part in the realm of serving life through the details of food, washing, sweeping…

So first there is the discipline and order of each day, which ideally moves a child beyond only solitary play with objects and the often unbridled vital expression of energy, into a flow of order and responsibility which creates the structure for sensitivity, equanimity and service.  And then there is the discipline of responding to actions that go against the qualities of kindness and balance.  All of this is coming to a head as my son nears age 2 – and when “NO” is becoming his favorite word.

Enter spiritual realizer Adi Da’s book, Discipline is an Act of Love.  He points me towards the needed ground of discipline and structure in order to manifest the seeds of right relationship between a child and family and then community.  He speaks to the art of true discipline lying in the ability to move a child into “right adaptation to the law of life – which is to be in relationship to all beings and experiences that arise rather than in reaction to them.”  He writes, “If we want to communicate the secret (which is embodying a heart converted to Love) to children and free them from emotional dissociation, we have to communicate the mood of God-communion via our own body-minds…We also have to transcend our own reactions to what a child is doing or not doing, our feeling of anxiety or frustration… We have to bring great life energy to the child and help them to return to a loving, happy mood by releasing negative feelings and being restored to the happiness of his or her inherent connection to Mystery…”

Therefore the basic task of true discipline is to help children return to the understanding (and bodily knowledge) that “they are loved and that they are also obliged to be Love.”  When I live my days of parenting with this discipline lens, I am working to create the condition for Rowan to feel full-bodily his relationship to myself and others – and then beyond his family towards community and the natural world.  And the necessary platform from which to dive is intimacy and love.

Adi Da reminds me that the primary thing children are reacting to through so-called negative behavior is the absence of intimacy.  As a society we tend to focus on the action and not the suffering behind the action; With this lens of looking beyond the action to what the feeling behind the action is, I can step back, consider causes, and check in with my reactions before responding (at least this is what I am practicing!).  I am reminded that I must continually deal  with the primary emotion of relatedness (or Love), and foster that sensitivity, “rather than deal problematically with secondary reactive emotions.”  Let me say this again:  rather than discipline being about strict redirecting, anger or frustration fed forceful speaking of constant “NO” – discipline can be about creating the conditions for happiness and balance through constant connectivity and fostered intimacy with my child.  Every gesture of the day is an opportunity to maintain or deepen this connection; And every blip in the flow is a chance for me to assess whether the connection has been broken and to come back into relationship first before acting from a place of reactivity in moments of challenge.

“You can’t teach anything without Love, and without being happy with them,” says Adi Da.  What a simple mantra I can return to.  When offering ‘discipline’ – or a deep form of teaching on what is ultimately most important in life and conduct – am I coming from a place of love?  Am I feeling the deep threads of relationship here?  Am I taking a deep breath before flying off the coop with irritation at the thrown egg whites for the fifth time this week?

Until I embody equanimity how can I expect my child to rest in life with equanimity? Children respond to our disposition and embodiment perhaps more than our words (particularly young children).  If we want to teach anything, perhaps we must first be in love with our children (yes, in the very moment of pinnacle frustration) and feel into our own happiness – and ask ourselves if there is anything we are doing that isn’t serving our child when they are out of balance.

This perspective serves me in profound ways.  Rather than creating a separation between Rowan and myself in moments when ‘discipline’ is required – when the most meaningful teachings are demanded of me – I can soften, as is always an invitation, and respond with Love.  I can reconnect.  I can model what a true gesture of service really is:  that which calls forth the best in others even when it challenges.  I can move both of us towards a space of mutual growth – while staying in relationship with not only Rowan, but with everything that is – exactly as it is:  not reacting but instead responding to the true callings of discipline.