Fanning the fire midweek, we are tossing you a spontaneous quote, question, or conundrum related to Monday’s post. We invite you to riff on this prompt or share a story—heartbreaking or hilarious—to spark further conversation about the path of motherhood.
In parenthood, as in life, there are countless practices and resources for the cultivation of presence. But by far, the ‘go to’ book on my shelf when it comes to mindful mothering is Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
A glance at the Table of Contents, with chapter titles like “Parenting is the Full Catastrophe,” “Live-in Zen Masters,” and “An Eighteen-Year Retreat,” gives you an idea of the fun (and deep practice) in store. The book’s epilogue too is a treasure trove with “Twelve Exercises for Mindful Parenting” that elevate parenting to a spiritual practice. Here is a sampling to whet your appetite:
1. Try to imagine the world from your child’s point of view, purposefully letting go of your own. Do this every day for at least a few moments to remind you of who this child is and what he or she faces in the world.
2. Imagine how you appear and sound from your child’s point of view, i.e., having you as a parent today, in this moment. How might this modify how you carry yourself in your body and in space, how you speak, and what you say? How do you want to relate to your child in this moment?
3. Practice seeing your children as perfect just the way they are. See if you can stay mindful of their sovereignty from moment to moment, and work at accepting them as they are when it is hardest for you to do so.
7. Try embodying silent presence. This will grow out of both formal and informal mindfulness practice over time if you attend to how you carry yourself and what you project in body, mind, and speech. Listen carefully.
12. The greatest gift you can give your child is your self. This means that part of your work as a parent is to keep growing in self-knowledge and awareness. This ongoing work can be furthered by making a time for quiet contemplation in whatever ways feel comfortable to us. We only have right now. Let us use it to its best advantage, for our children’s sake, and for our own.
(Excerpted from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Copyright 1997 by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn.)
What mindfulness practices can you add to this list?