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Weaving Threads of Care and Love Across the Planet

These past couple of days my mother-heart stretched again some more. It seems this is and will be a lifelong stretch. What struck me today is how visceral it is above all else. My mind was calm. My emotions too. What was in movement, where I was noticing the stretching happening, was at the layer of sensation in my body, literally as if cells were being asked to make room for more, to release, to grow my trust in this Life, to love and to let go.

And now throughout the day as my daughter wanders off into the high mountains for four days with a 40lb backpack, a new circle of friends and an extraordinary teacher as part of her wilderness school experience, it is my body that keeps sensing into her adventure… that holds her both close and far, regardless of whether my actual thoughts are with her or not. I focus on what lies before me, I enjoy the day, and simultaneously I sense expansion off into that wilderness, with her, the heart-cell-awareness ongoing.

Similarly, when she went on her first 10-day trip earlier this summer, flying on her own away from home across the great continent of Canada to stay with her aunt’s family… That day of travel, aware of her flight across plains, hills and mountains to the city of Montreal, my heart felt stretched like an accordion. It wasn’t unpleasant, although it took a bit of getting used to. My accordion-heart stayed that way for 10 days, spread over the continent before it folded back together as she neared home and walked in the door with a big grin on her face. I remember thinking of all the accordion-hearts stretched across the globe at any moment in time… threads of care, of prayer, of connection.

I watch this visceral stretching today and note with wonder the glimpse, embodied, of how interconnected we all truly are. We may notice it in much deeper fullness and clarity with loved ones, especially with our children. But doesn’t it just point to what is there under the surface anyways, all ways?
Think of those days when you cannot place sadness due to your own personal life, but you feel it seeping in under your skin, passing through, perhaps on behalf of others? You shed tears and they may be yours or they may belong to someone you will never meet.

Or the times you look at a view, or hug a friend, and sense that you are doing so for one departed from their body – lending him or her your eyes, your arms for a moment?

Or that delightful experience when you witness someone dancing or singing or doing something you would have loved to do more of, had you more time, a few parallel lives to dedicate to the many loves of this living… and then you see a friend or someone you don’t even know, doing just that and doing it so well and so beautifully and something in you relaxes, because even if it is not you doing it, it is happening, that movement, that song, that stroke of paint on canvas is happening.

These and other moments give us insights into the transpersonal nature of our humanity. The ways we are both in ourselves and beyond ourselves. We are distinct, unique, and we are undeniably connected and interwoven.

This is where my body-heart-stretch leads me today in my experience, reflections and awareness-coasting every once in a while over the mountains as I love my girl and wish her well, so well.

Sending love to all the mother-hearts and father-hearts and caring-hearts that weave threads of care and love across the planet. May those who are truly alone today, be touched by these threads, for they belong to all of us.

 

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Father’s Day – Thank you!

Dear Fathers!

Today we celebrate you. We pause and reflect on all the ways you shape who we are, as individuals and as a humanity. We celebrate the many examples you share of courage, protection, strength and deep care.

We thank you for all the time you get on your knees and play wholeheartedly with your little one.

Thank you for all the catching, throwing, launching, holding, comforting you do!

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Thank you for each moment of Presence you offer your kids – it is water to their souls, earth to their spirits, nourishment to their minds and bodies.

Thank you for the many many days you go off to work, missing so many of the small daily and intimate family moments to provide for your family. This ongoing gesture of Love is so appreciated. And thank you for all the times you don’t go off to work and stay home to tend to the hearth, to hang out with family!

Thank you for leading with what you sense and know is possible, rather than limiting your fathering to what was given to you, as well-meant and magnificent, challenging or stuck as that may have been.

Thank you for every time you allow your heart to soften, and encourage your sons’ and daughters’ hearts to soften, showing them that we humans can be both brave and tender.

Thank you for the confident and calm boundaries you set, allowing your children to run free, guided by handrails and accountability.

Thank you for the manageable challenges you provide, the stretches that make space for your child to grow into his and her potential.

Thank you for modelling what evolving fatherhood looks like. Today we celebrate you with full hearts and much gratitude!

In my work with fathers, I get to witness the incredible dedication, love and care fathers have for their children. It is humbling and incredibly inspiring. I thank you for this too.

Today I light a candle for you all and offer this wish, this prayer:

May you receive in giving.

May you feel loved in loving.

May you heal in discovering your own vulnerability and strength.

May you stand for justice and truth, kindness and compassion.

May you find Joy in providing Joy for your, for all our young ones.

And may you continue to evolve what is possible as FATHER.

Every blessing for each step along your journey.

All my love, Miriam

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Mother’s Day Love ~ The Breadth and Depth of It

Dearest ones – mamas and mothering ones, all of you who pour your hearts and minds, bodies and souls into nurturing and sustaining Life in its myriad forms – so, to all of you, blessed keepers of the Hearth,

I wish you a most blessed mother’s day!

As I sit quietly at the dawn of this day, present with Mother’s Day, many strands of the mothering adventure come to heart and mind… 

the impossible task it presents – to love so completely, to be carved out in surrender to a child, and then be required to release, to let go.

the yearning to be mother to a child that may go unmet, and the depth of ache and sorrow this leaves in many.

the bounty of love poured in this world, day by day, moment by moment, by all who mother, taking care of Life, watering it and helping it grow.

the overwhelm and loneliness that mothers sometimes experience when the village isn’t there.

the pivotal place you stand as mother between how you were mothered and how you choose to mother, calling forth healing, integration, and renewal so that Love can flourish more fully in the future. 

the grief that never fully ends when a child dies. the love that continues forever.

the cycle of nurturing continued as children grow up and nurture their aging parents. That, the mothering force in action too.

the many ways beyond mothering a child that mothering takes – in the aunties of this world, in the listeners and birthers of new, in each and every moment your magnificent heart opens to presence, to pouring care and love into another.

the mamas to newborns this year. May you feel enfolded in our love and support for you, as you navigate that first incredible, crazy, all-encompassing year.

the love that widens us, grows us, deepens us as we tend to our children, day in, day out.

With you, I honor and celebrate these and all the unspoken and unseen dimensions on motherhood today.

Thank you for every ounce, every caress, every snack, every note and prayer and stitch and vision and hope and sweat and dance of Mother-Love you share with the world. Thank you for You!

Take a moment to allow yourself to really feel seen in this mothering work you do. Because it takes you softening the layer of protection you may hold around your heart, to let it in. Then Mother’s Day can actually “land” in you.

And know, wherever you are, however mothering shows up in your life, that you are not alone. We only seem separate. Truly, we are all travelling together in one big caravan. Your tears are our tears. Your joys are our joys. Your concerns are our concerns. Your hopes are our hopes. Your children are our children.

Whenever we mother, we mother for the Whole.

With all my love, and much gladness to be journeying with you along the path of mothering,      

 Miriam

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A Key to Thriving in Relationship: Tune yourself! Just Like An Instrument

You know those moments just before a symphony concert, when the audience is settling, the last rustlings of handbags and programs travel across the space, the air is sparkling with anticipation… and the musicians are tuning their instruments…

That sound. A wild-yet-synchronized cacophony of violins, cellos, double bass, clarinets, flutes, trumpets and harps sliding up to a sharp, down to a flat, up again a slice, down another, and then there it is: landing just so, placed on pitch, tuned and ready. Quiet. Poised. Deep breath, in and out. And Go. The concerto (from the latin concertare, which means to harmonize) can begin.

Similarly at a band practice, or alone with your fiddle in the living room: before you play, you tune your instrument. You know what happens if you don’t. The ensuing tunes will sound either slightly off or quite terrible, possibly even make a piece of music unrecognizable. I know. We have a harp in our house, and if it ain’t tuned, it doesn’t do the harp-thing at all.

When it comes to making music, this is all clear and accepted. It is the norm. We tune the instrument before we play it. If ever we drift out of tune we retune.

Now how about the rest of our lives, all those instances when we ourselves are the instrument?

Think of all the ways we relate to one another, the many ways we “make music” together (or not!) through our words, gestures, tone of voice, emotional quality, body posture: in conversations with our friends, our spouses and partners, in the interactions we share with our children, the myriad moments of engaging with one another on a daily basis.

Do we come at these tuned? Or out of tune? As we all know, the results vary hugely, depending.

When I tune my instrument – my self – I become present. I am both relaxed and attentive. My breath is calm. My emotions are regulated. I can make eye contact. I am at home within myself, and I listen and speak from this inner home. I don’t jump to conclusions. I remain curious, open-minded, soft-hearted.

When I am out of tune, I tend to be tense, turbulent, quick to react, defensive or avoidant, irritable, impatient, caught up in emotional storms, and often covering vulnerability with a hardened shell.

I’ve tested both versions many times – inadvertently and on purpose. The ensuing quality of connection is starkly different. Without fail, the former allows for greater intimacy, insight and connection. The latter tends to propel a relationship in a downward spiral, toward misunderstanding, hurt and separation.

We are hardwired to react when feeling threatened. We can quickly move to defense, offense or shutdown when we don’t feel safe in a relationship, when we are not met with empathy, kindness, and patience. Staying tuned in the fray of relating takes practice, lots of it!

I encourage my clients to practice tuning themselves for and in all their relationships, especially in their closest ones, with partner and kid(s). I explore with them how they can best regulate their emotions and get in touch with their inner home. Then I send them off with this homework: “When you’re ‘on’, engage. When you’re ‘off’, stop and recalibrate yourself. Make this a priority and see what happens.” The results are worth the while.

My husband and I practice daily too, have been for years now – as said, it takes plenty of practice! We have agreed that whenever we get ‘out of tune’, we pause the conversation and do whatever it takes to get back in tune. This is our priority. It can lead to rather abrupt ends to conversations, but we have consistently found that those stubborn “We will talk this through no matter what marathons” really don’t lead anywhere useful and tend to leave us both depleted.

Another place I get to practice daily is with my daughter. Just the other day, I was about to ask her for the fourth time if she could empty the dishwasher. I was getting aggravated and about to nag. On that day, in that moment, I caught myself just in time. I noticed where I was coming from, the irritated state I was in, and remembered my “being in tune before playing music” commitment. I took a deep breath. I let it go, refreshing my intention to communicate when “in tune”. By the time I was back in tune, the dishwasher was empty.

What if we check in with ourselves before each and every conversation and notice whether we are out of tune or in tune? And what if, whenever we slide out of tune, we stop what we are doing and retune before continuing?

It sounds so simple, yes? It is not necessarily easy; but it is a simple, straightforward, and extremely effective in navigating all our relationships with greater ease and grace. Tuning recalibrates us, allowing more consciousness to enter any relationship.

To make this a handy tool, I break this practice down into a few steps for you:

1) Awareness. This is where it all begins.

How am I doing as I enter this interaction? Am I emotionally calm, clear-minded, open-hearted, centered, curious?

Or am I out of tune?

Am I either ‘sharp’ – tense, high-strung, wound up, tight, reactive, full of emotions that need empathy, release and regulation…?

Or ‘flat’ – not fully here, not engaged, tired, not caring enough, feeling victimized, distracted, have I already given up…?

2) Commitment. Imagine a world in which we tune ourselves consistently before engaging with one another… as neighbor and friend, as partner, lover, parent, teacher, politician. Imagine a partnership in which you only ‘play music’ when you are both tuned. Imagine parenting with this awareness. The results are well worth the commitment.

Commit to only communicating when “on” (grounded, open soft heart, centered).

When you feel “off” (contracted, tense, shut down, defensive), pause and instead do a time-in (time to regulate until ready to communicate again). Whoever notices the “off-ness” calls a time-in. No discussion. Just time to regulate, recalibrate, each in one’s own way. It takes discipline to contain the momentum of reaction.

3) Regulate. As needed, regulate. Do whatever it takes to tune yourself-as-instrument. For each of us, this may look differently. Here are some ideas (find out what works best for you): Go outside; take a walk; drink water; breath; put your hand on your heart and remember you are loved; meditate; stretch your arms up and out and remind yourself that Life is not ‘out to get you’ (nor is your spouse or your kid, generally they are just working from the capacity they can access in any given moment); take a nap; dance; have a shower; cry and release any pent-up emotions until your heart is softened; talk with a friend, listen to music; and breath some more, focusing especially on your outbreath.

More in-depth regulation involves tracking reactive patterns, noticing predictable triggers, doing shadow work, somatic trauma release, and making use of any other ways we change our state to gain insight and heal the un-integrated aspects of our self. Becoming whole is a journey. Working with a therapist or a mentor can be very helpful. You don’t have to do this alone.

4) Reconnect with ongoing awareness. When you feel regulated again, check in with your partner, your child, your friend: “Is now a good time to pick up where we left off? If not, let’s set a time for that.”

Then, when you try again, repeat and keep going for as long as you can, while remaining open-hearted and centered. As soon as you trip up and slide ”off”, repeat the regulation practices.

And whenever possible, tune while interacting! This involves ongoing regulation, which hinges upon ongoing inner body scanning for sensations (tension registers there first). Pay attention, and you’ll notice a ‘storm’ brewing before it erupts. As soon as you notice early signs of arousal, you can regulate (deep relaxed breathing and soothing hand on heart) while continuing the conversation, becoming a virtuoso — a truly skilled ‘musician’.

5) Practice. Awareness is like a muscle. Regulating is a learned skill. They both take practice and witnessing presence. You will stumble. You will trip. But over time, one interaction after the other, gradually, you will build momentum for a safe, joyful, conscious container to relate, to communicate, to make ‘music’ together. Over time you will become adept at navigating through challenging patches and phrases in your conversations and interactions.

This ongoing tuning is a core skill in approaching parenting as a spiritual practice.

It is foundational for conscious partnering.

To become aware of when we are off-key, to then bring ourselves into tune, and to play from there: that’s where the music happens.

Then you have readied yourself for the duet, for the band practice, the symphony orchestra, the love-in-action.

Then you are modeling for your child how s/he can calm down, communicate and learn to self-regulate.

Then you are conversing with your partner in a shared container that allows for deeper understanding and insight, rather than throwing gas on a fire, speaking words you later regret, and going at it from an aroused system rather than a grounded, clear-minded one.

So, next time you are about to chat with your partner, check in with yourself first: is my self-as-instrument tuned?

If yes, go ahead. If not, go tune yourself. And if you slide out of tune during any interaction, pause and re-tune. As you get more adept, you will be able to tune and retune right in the midst of your interactions.

And then, let the concerto begin.

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If you would like to join me and a wonderful, international group of parents as we explore these kinds of practices and how they can be applied to parenting, I invite you to “Parenting as a Spiritual Practice – an 8-week online course that runs May. 1 – June. 26, 2017.

This course is designed to bring to life the full potential of parenthood: a transformative vessel for evolving yourself, your child, and the future. During these eight weeks I offer you perspectives, practices, discernment and insight that will help you discover an unshakeable ease and delight amidst the inevitable ups, downs and doubts of parenting. >> www.integralparenting.com

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Change ~ from the Outside In

FROM THE OUTSIDE IN ~

So much of my focus – in both my personal life and work with clients – is to explore, practice and ignite CHANGE from the inside out.

But! There is also the other way, which is to go at change from the OUTSIDE IN.

I first came to really appreciate this approach to change, healing and development during the writing of my Masters thesis on Dance Therapy in 1994. Studying the pioneers of this therapy form, a thread ran through that spoke of changing the body to change the mind. Moving the body to discover new states and perspectives. Working with the body to grow new wings – to play with contrast, to expand beyond familiar habits and ruts, to discover other ways of being and living.

To remind myself of this option, I keep this little figurine on my desk. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas a couple years ago. It makes me smile every time i look at it.

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Today, a day that feels a little grey to me… a friend speaks of the “lovely spring rain” in an email, whereas I’m seeing the dreary non-color of snow-melt-not-yet-spring reflecting my interior… I look upon this wee statue and remember. I stretch out my arms, even though really I feel like crawling under a blanket. I smile as I stand in the shower. I lift the muscles in my body, inviting in an interior lift. a change of state.

Does it work? A little. And sometimes a lot. To shake it loose, those blues. To not take them so seriously. To shift state like clouds moving across the sky. To remember: I HAVE emotions, they inform me, they move through me, they are part of my humanness and often carry important (and sometimes skewed) messages. But I AM NOT my emotions.

In addition to all my own focus and my coaching and counselling with others on noticing, being present to and learning from the emotions that move through us, there is also this, and it is such an important “also”: To not take our emotional states so seriously all the time.

Can we do both?

Be present to them. Witness. Empathize with ourselves and others. Let those feelings move.

AND remember: I am not my emotions. I have freedom to change – both from the inside out, and from the outside in. Because I am a unity – there is no clear line between where my inside and outside start and end – CHANGE is most effective when I do both, listening to the moment… is this a time to give in to the pull from beneath that blanket? Or is this moment to say to myself “Just drop it, love, stretch out those arms, remember to expand and shake it loose?
Is this a moment to feel-think myself into acting, or is this a moment to act myself into thinking-feeling?

To discern what is truly called for in any moment takes practice. Lots of it.

Today I choose some of the “outstretched arms” and some of the “simply be present with the feelings”. As the day progresses, the state shifts, the light changes, the weather pattern moves on, and space opens up for new Life, new moments.

And you? Perhaps today as you parent, as you relate, as you live this human adventure, stretch your arms out, take some deep breaths, and shake whatever may be bogging you down, so that a new moment, a new choice, a new possibility emerges.

With love, m

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Hope buried, but there, stirring.

A week ago I walked through a beautiful snow labyrinth made by my friend and neighbour. It was the day of Imbolc, the mid-point between the start of winter and the beginning of spring. Like a tipping point, where we note that we are halfway through winter and from now on, every day brings us closer to sun and warmth, here in the north. I have been told that on this day, deep in the ground, the seeds begin to turn toward the light, the stirring begins.

Well, as I walked toward the centre of the labyrinth, snow was pouring down, not a speck of spring visible or tangible. Just a whole lot of flurries and cold sparkle. My mind carried along myriad thoughts, like stray cats, a bit of this and a bit of that as I wound my way along the snowy path. Once I arrived at the centre, I stood still, closed my eyes and settled into Stillness. I listened with my inner ears to see if I could sense any subtle stirring under the ground. Anything at all. With snow swirling all around me, I stayed for a while, listening. I followed down from my feet, down into the earth.

And there it was, almost imperceptible, buried way down, under layers of earth and thick, cold snow, a faint stirring. Subtle. My imagination possibly. Or not. It didn’t matter. What did matter was the experience of reaching down far, all the way to new growth, to hope. It is an active gesture, not a “wait until it falls in my lap” one. It takes focus, concentration, openness and willingness. It feels real.

Ever since, throughout the week, as reports of global affairs continue to dismay and disrupt, I remind myself to follow my feet down through the layers of earth, where seeds turn to light no matter how much snow is piling high (this week we just happened to have epic record-breaking February amounts of over 60cm. Seriously, everything is covered in snow these days, not a seed in sight!)

Listen with me, yes? No matter what is going on. We will not put our heads in the sand. We will keep our minds alert, we will pay attention to what is going on. And: we won’t forget to touch in with the hope, with the knowing that light is stronger, and that we cannot abandon that. Thawing toward warmth, we are part of keeping hope alive. We will listen for the seeds.

Or as Jack Gilbert said (thank you Liz Gilbert for calling my attention to this marvellous poet), we will be stubbornly glad:

“We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.”


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New Year’s blessings & reflections

January 4, 2017

Dearest ones,

A new year has begun. Everywhere I look and listen, people are speaking of new beginnings, new year’s intentions and resolutions. I enjoy the energy and momentum I sense in this, the hope and courage too, and yet, when I touch in with my true me… I realize I’m actually not quite ready for new beginnings in an outward sense.  

Around me, nature is very quiet at this time of the year, encouraging me to reflect, to incubate and listen. 

How are you feeling? 

I invite you to tune in to that. Not to what others are saying or expecting, but just that. You. To stop. To listen. To allow yourself to be, before diving into the next becoming.

Whether you’re ready to plunge into a new year with vigour, or rest a while longer in the ‘in-between’, or simply carry on, I’d like to share a couple reflections to accompany you. 

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 Winter in the northern hemisphere has just begun. The season invites me to stop. 

To settle into Stillness. To curl up and rest. To hibernate, at least a little. 

To get so quiet that I can listen for and hear if anything I am not expecting may arise. Out of the Stillness. 

And so I choose to see all of January as the ‘in-between’, the prolonged stretch of a stopping-while-listening-for-new-beginnings, offering more time for reflection, contemplation, rest, and trusting that the energy will rise of its own accord, without forcing or willing it, when the Stillness has had enough space and time.

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Years ago, when I was just a few weeks pregnant with our daughter, Adonia, I went to a 10-day Vipassana retreat during which everyone is silent for the entire time. One of my clearest memories was how hesitant I felt to start speaking again at the end of the ten days. The Silence had been both a challenge and a safe place. Speaking struck me as the easiest place to mess up, to bring egoic, reactive patterns back to the interactive space. The quiet invited me to untangle myself from those conditioned patterns. To stop. And start up again with greater awareness and care.

I did end up speaking again 🙂  Messing up, learning and growing all the while. 

This January 1st, and in the ensuing few days, I have had a similar experience. Marking a new year as a new slate, the start of renewed possibility and potential, I have been watching myself more closely throughout the first day, and the second and third, and now the fourth, catching the moments I slide with greater precision, while recognizing that no matter the intention, I will slide, I will mess up. And I will get back up and keep going.

I made it through day one with nary a reaction, impatience or doubt. Day two and beyond, I sprinkled with more unconsciousness. Living includes learning. I can’t stay in the purity of Silence.

So, here’s to taking the plunge into Life, over and over again, renewing our faith that we can grow our consciousness, our capacity for love and kindness every day, while forgiving ourselves and making good when we miss the mark.

It’s that lifelong dynamic between reaching for the stars, for we are noble, while curling into the earth, for we are also humble. Stretching and challenging ourselves AND offering ourselves kindness and compassion as we make our way onward, along this human adventure.

Let us welcome the new year as an opportunity to do both with renewed attention!

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I wish you a most blessed new year. 

I pray we wake up as a humanity to the incredible Beauty, Goodness, and Truth we are at our core. I pray we find our way and that in 2017 we light up the world, kindling the fire in our midst that never dies away.

I wish you well.  

I look forward to our journey together – be this in my capacity as counselor, parenting coach, parenting course facilitator, friend, colleague, sister, fellow traveller.

Thank you for you!

With all my love,    

                           Miriam

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The Art of Parenting: Learning to Live at the Edge of the Unknown

As parents — as people! — we all (I’m pretty sure all of us, yes?) wish there were a simple way, a method that is tried and true and guaranteed to get us the results we hope for… be this a fitness program, a healthy diet, a supplement protocol, a parenting handbook, a financial plan, a spiritual practice, a qualified approach to ANYTHING.

“Just tell me what to do and promise me it will lead me where I want to end up, and I will do it!” Sound familiar?

Our ego-minds want so very much to know, to be sure, to have the secure, guaranteed path and outcome laid out for us.

But, as you may have noticed, Life has other plans. This earthly existence keeps derailing the “for sure’s”, keeps throwing curve balls our way, keeps nixing our perfect plans and visions, and instead nudges, forces, coaxes, calls, yells, whispers and pushes us to: let it go.

What?!!

Yes. To let go of this fabricated, deeply ingrained notion that “there is one way to do it right and if I just know what that one way is, everything will be all right”.

Let it go.

Are you sure?

Yep.

You know, as we all do, as we all experience repeatedly, that Life is otherwise.

And, when it comes to parenting — this crazy, exquisite dance between our self and our child—Life utterly derails any such notion of “predictable, known, for sure and for certain”.

This is not to say that many of the parenting books and parenting methods and parenting tips and parenting know-hows and parenting experts and parenting “fill-in-the-blanks” are not helpful; they often are, supplying encouraging tips and insights to try out and help us along.

But all of them will only go so far.

They won’t ever get you to that solid place that you so wish you could get to. It’s impossible to provide the “right” response to the zillions of possible parenting moments, dilemmas, disasters, questions and curve balls you encounter.

You will still come face to face with situations in which you are at loss, in which you really have no idea what to do or say, in which you have tried all kinds of things and nothing seems to be working. At the end of the day you will still be left wondering if you shouldn’t have, couldn’t have done “it” differently—“it” being any aspect of parenting you can think of. You will never know for sure whether you should have protected your child more or challenged her more. You will still wonder if he needed more guidance or less, if she would have been better served had you trusted her more or directed her more, if he needed more comfort or more stimulus, more independence or more connection.

When traversing the territory, when engaged in the actual doing of parenting, it is not this or that method that will offer you a solid handrail to clutch on to. It is not the “apply this or that” technique that gives you the ultimate ground to stand on as you seek your way through the storms and the sunny sky days.

It is INSIGHT. Learning about how children develop, how they mature and flourish. Understanding how their brains, their hearts, bodies and spirits: grow, make sense of the world, integrate or get stuck, release tension, connect and repair.

It is DISCERNMENT. Making choices from a place of seeing, rather than guessing. Making sense through awareness, rather than because someone else said so.

And it is EMBODIMENT, which is another way of saying lots of practice.

The practice of learning to stand calm and steady, to breath with a cracked-open heart, and to keep breathing when a knee-jerk reaction is about to burst out of you.

The practice of self-awareness. Knowing your self—your tendencies, your type, your strengths and growing edges, your shadows, your soul. Also, continually inviting yourself into a fuller sense of belonging. You are not alone. You belong. You matter. You are loved. Receiving that fully, and living from that knowing.

The practice of presence. Of slowing down and being there, for your child.

The practice of listening between, beneath and beyond words. Listening for the emergent response, not memorizing what the ‘parenting book’ said.

The practice of trusting your innate, silent voice that knows because it loves. The voice that is there when all else becomes quiet.

The practice of forgiveness, to yourself and your child, for being human.

The practice of choice: thinking outside the hand-me-down box. Being brave and creative so that you discover and live what matters most to you and your child. So that you stand up for what is true for you and your family.

The practice of releasing attachment to your own subjective perspective, and of looking behind your child’s eyes, over and over.

The practice of meeting and engaging with your child as a sovereign person, while guiding and parenting him.

The practice of making love bigger than whatever else may be happening.

The practice of including and transcending ego. Gradually and consciously, coming home to your true self and enabling your child to live and flourish in his true self.

And the practice of practice! We can easily trip up on “Oh no, I’ll never be the perfect parent and I’m so stressed about that!” To evolve rather than perfect. To strive for consciousness while enveloping your efforts with generous doses of kindness, forgiveness and humor. One step at a time.

Discovering the simplicity on the other side of the complex territory that is Life, that is parenting, is about getting a hang of how to relax in the middle of the unknown, in the plenty of chaos, in the multitude of possibilities—that is the spiritual practice. That is the way forward to dancing at the edge of the unknown and coming through with your heart and her heart intact (perhaps a little frayed, but good and solid).

Remember: Your parenting flows from your being, much more than from your doing. As you become comfortable with living at the edge of the unknown, finding calm confidence within yourself while life continues to whirl and spiral in and around you, you will have truly learnt how to “dance in the rain, instead of waiting for the storm to pass”. You will become weatherproof!

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If you would like to join me and a wonderful, international group of parents as we explore and practice this comprehensive and underlying approach to parenting, I invite you to “Parenting as a Spiritual Practice – an 8-week online course that runs Oct. 10 – Dec. 5, 2016.

This course is designed to bring to life the full potential of parenthood: a transformative vessel for evolving yourself, your child, and the future. During these eight weeks I offer you perspectives, practices, discernment and insight that will help you discover an unshakeable ease and delight amidst the inevitable ups, downs and doubts of parenting.
www.integralparenting.com

 

Article originally posted on Huff Post, Sept. 29, 2016

 

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Bless You as You Step Out Into the World

Dearest ones,

This week many children, teens and young adults are setting out into a new school year… kindergarten, a new grade, a new school, college, university, travel, adventure, homeschooling kitchen table…

My heart and mind are with them, imagining them heading out into worlds known and unknown, into positive and challenging situations, into collectives in which they hopefully are well welcomed, and encouraged to bring their unique selves, to shine bright, whatever that means – quiet, loud, colorful, tentative, joyful, inquisitive, bold, shy, …

But we know that is not always so. This world doesn’t always meet our kids with kindness. Sometimes school is hard, really hard, for all kinds of reasons.

I borrow here an excerpt of a prayer I wrote for my daughter this summer. I share it here for all children everywhere, as they grow and step more and more into the big wide world that is a lot of everything – light and dark, welcome and confusion, encouragement and hurt, beautiful and daunting, exhilarating and crazy-making, tender and terrible.

Perhaps you can hold this prayer and care with me for all children everywhere, as they make their way, one step at a time?

~ BLESS YOU AS YOU STEP OUT INTO THE WORLD ~

May your heart stay soft and open as you step out into the world more and more.

May you be protected and guided, discerning when to lean out, and when to curl inward.

May you stay ‘home’ within yourself.

May you stay true to your Self – as you try out different styles, gestures, mannerisms, ways of communicating: please remember your soul, your very own unique authentic self. It is this deeper self that is your anchor and compass. It is this true self that holds and shares the warmth of your Heart with others. That discerns what is right, good and healthy for you and others.

May you keep spreading Light, through your words, your thoughts, your deeds. May you look out for those who need your Light, who you can coax out of their shells and make them feel like they belong too.

May you delight in this Life, and may Life delight you. May you be sheltered, healthy, inspired, creating rather than reacting, joy-filled and con-fident (in trust).

May you keep following the threads of truth, the resonance you experience, trusting those whispers to discover your unfolding expression and service.

Know that you are so very fully and completely loved – by Life and all manner of expressions of this Life. Know that you are not alone. And remember to ask for help whenever you need it. We are here for you.

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 Artist: Claudia Tremblay

With all my Love,

Miriam

PS: Registration is now open for our upcoming integral parenting course – Parenting as a Spiritual Practice, which begins Oct. 10th. If you or someone you know is interested, you can find out more here > www.integralparenting.com 

 And we so appreciate you helping spread the word! Thank you.

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Tender Hearts Walking Around in Adult-looking Costumes

June 21, 2016

A daily practice that is growing in me and becoming a welcome habit is to view my fellow adult beings with the additional perspective of imagining them as the child they were. I find it a quick, effective way to have more compassion, to understand an other more fully, to judge less and inquire more.

We are tender hearts, wrapped in adult-looking costumes.

Let’s not forget this as we interact with one another.

Behind the facade, behind each exterior is a tender heart, a vulnerable self.

Remembering this can help us soften, listen, bring forth kindness, curiosity and a generosity of spirit as we relate with each other.

Tender hearts walking around in adult-like costumes.

Yes, even the grumpy co-worker. And the impatient woman standing in line behind us at the grocery store. The nervous, fluttery chitchatting mum and the quick-to-react, intense spouse too, as well as the “whatever” uttered too often too easily. All of them. All of us.

There is an innocence tucked in each person. There is a vulnerable tender heart at the centre of us all. Under the mask of the coolest styliest person, under the slightly distant turning away of the shy one, under harsh words that are uttered, under the closing down of communication, under the overbearing loud in-your-faceness, under all of it, there is the tenderness, the innocence we share, we all had and were at the beginning.

Keeping this in mind opens us to seeing deeper, not excusing current behaviours, but understanding more completely, and then, with this bigger view, possibly hearing under- and overtones that could easily be overlooked, swept by and missed… and yet, if seen and heard, can provide doorways to presence, to healing and regeneration.

So this my invitation today: look for the tender hearts walking around in adult-like costumes.

With great love to your tender heart, whether you carry it out on your sleeve, tucked in gently and safe but within easy reach, further under the surface or deeply buried,

Miriam

Miriam Mason Martineau's photo.J