So many people that I meet through my work are stressed out, frazzled and exhausted. I think I'm one of them too. Time is flying by us -- can you feel everything speeding up? And more and more demands are being placed on us. Last night I saw some guy on TV talk about how women in particular need to make time for themselves because we're so busy doing everything for our families that heart disease and cancer scares are on the rise for women. He talked about how women have to create a scared space in their home and should meditate or pray for an hour a day.
An hour. Really?
If you add up all the things we're supposed to do in a day -- work, clean, cook, meditate, pray, exercise, socialize and organize for the next day's round of events --well, then, we're out of time.
This blog post is mainly aimed at women and men like me who are trying so hard to juggle career, family and personal needs. This man's advice got me thinking about how hard it is to really find time in the day to stop and meditate for 10 minutes, never mind an HOUR.
I do meditate every day, but rarely do I meditate for more than 10 or 15 minutes. I pray every morning and evening for about five minutes each. So that's 20 - 30 minutes I devote every day for my spiritual enlightenment.
Not impressive, especially for an intuitive.
BUT, ponder these facts:
Jesus never had a family. Buddha abandoned his family (including his new born child) to find enlightenment. Mohammad may have had over a dozen wives, but he still left them for weeks at a time several times a year to meditate in a cave. The founder of the Hare Krishna movement, Swami Prabhupada, "retired" from marriage when he came to the states in 1966 to spread his movement. I love that he referred to it as retiring from marriage and not divorce or abandonment. Abraham didn't become a dad until he was very, very old and so he had plenty of time to seek enlightenment before almost sacrificing his first son. Every major female spiritual leader from Saint Clare of Assisi, Joan of Arc and St. Therese of Avila to Dorothy Day, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, and Mother Theresa did not have to deal with raising a family.
So, please don't be hard on yourself if you're having a hard time balancing it all and finding time to meditate, pray and ponder the meaning of life.
In order to be spiritually mindful, we do not need to abandon our families. Nor do we have to feel as though enlightenment can wait until we've raised our family. To me, the recipe for enlightenment really can be found in raising a family. Don't believe me? Consider these thoughts:
In order to reach a state of enlightenment, you must have faith. What greater evidence of faith can we find in our own lives than through the act of having a child? That shows faith in the continuation of the world, faith in our ability to parent and raise another human being, and faith in a higher power that it can even happen at all.
Enlightenment also requires patience. Watching your child go through the terrible twos will teach the hardest, most impatient person how to surrender. Potty training your child, encouraging them to eat vegetables and painfully helping them sound out words as they learn to read all equals patience.
In order to feel enlightened, we must learn how to be still. How many of you have practiced the power of stillness when you had to tiptoe in their room and steal a tooth from under their pillow? Or have to listen to them tell you -- again -- the moment by moment reenactment of their favorite movie.
Enlightenment requires that we learn to be both teacher and student. With our families, we're constantly teaching them the essentials of life -- how to get along with others, how to have good study habits, how to pray and be an active member of their faith community, how to give back to others and empathize -- but we're also our children's students constantly learning from their pearls of wisdom. My youngest just taught me how to hop on one foot while balancing on a curb going around our cul-de-sac. But seriously, our children are our greatest teachers as they reveal to us our greatest strengths and weaknesses.
The enlightened mind also must have courage which is really what parenting is all about. One must have the courage to discipline, to guide, and to let go when the child is ready.
So to all you frazzled parents out there, don't feel bad about yourself if you're trying to find time to include more spirituality in your life because, trust me, it's already there.
The twenty or so years you'll spend raising your children to adulthood will expand your heart, enrich your soul and provide the perfect opportunity for true enlightenment.