Before I became a parent I used to dream about all the things I would do once I had a family of my own. This wasn't just related to spirituality, mind you, there were so many areas of my life that I wanted to integrate into our daily lives as a family. But things like yoga and meditation were certainly on that list.
It seems strange to me now to think that I ever thought this would be easy. I struggled to make time for these things in my life even before kids and, let's be fair here, if I couldn't prioritise for these things when my mornings and evenings were pretty much my own to do as I wanted, how would I even begin to do so once I had another person to look after?
Truth be told, it has taken me 4 years as a parent to realise the importance of making time for these things. I have spent 4 years running around, trying to fit far too much into my days and suffering the consequences of that. Not only have I worn myself to breaking point, I have also been short-tempered and hasty in both my decisions and communications with my husband and child. By not making time for myself and my own well-being I have begun to feel resentful of the demands upon my time and energy and I have snapped.
In many ways I feel guilty for the path we have walked during WB's first 4 years on this earth. They have been filled with love, of course, but it hasn't been a well-rounded and balanced kind of love. Our life as a family started out with trauma and heartbreak and continued to be stressful as both Tim and I developed further health issues. Whilst we both loved WB fiercely, we neglected to love and nurture ourselves, which has had far-reaching consequences.
2015 saw a change in this pattern, a time when we began to really appreciate the need for self-love and healing. I began to realise I was focusing too much on trying to change the world and not enough on trying to heal myself, and Tim discovered the amazing power of community and support. Together these experiences led us to new avenues of healing and peace, including chanting, meditation and yoga.
It was during such a moment that the idea for Spirit Kid Network came to me, and I began to realise just how much of my life I had been denying my gifts and passions, trying instead to make myself "fit" into so many of life's apparent "norms". And by denying my heart, I was not only doing myself a disservice but also my child - how did I expect him to grow up with confidence, self-assurance, and a healthy sense of who he was when the example I was giving him was so opposite to all of that?
And it was also in this moment (and many moments since) that I realised just how important these quiet moments are. It is only when I stop running around in the hustle and bustle of the world and take time out that my mind is quiet enough to allow my heart to speak and my soul to connect to something deeper than myself. It doesn't matter if I am doing a yoga sequence, chanting along to some music, or simply trying to sit in quiet contemplation, by giving myself "time out" (be it 5 minutes or 50), I show myself that I am worthy of it. It's not something I have to "earn", it's not something that simply gets thrown in as a last minute thought when I have a few minutes to spare, it is an essential part of my life.
I'm not saying that I manage it every day - I am far from perfect! But those days when I do not manage it are starting to feel so much more difficult than those when I do. Or, should I say, those days when I do manage it seem to be so much easier, because when yet another hurdle appears I no longer think "why me?" but rather "okay, I can do this".
The knock-on effect of this, of course, is that WB is starting to see more and more evidence of our spiritual practice and what it means to us simply by our making time for it. For example, one night over the Christmas break he was struggling to get to sleep and so I invited him to lay beside me in our bed whilst I meditated. Previously I would have spent that time waiting for him to go to sleep and getting more and more annoyed that my limited free-time was being eaten into. That kind of thinking creates tension that is no good for any of us. That night, however, I chose to use my time wisely, and let him lay beside me for comfort whilst I chanted (hoping the music might lull him to sleep whilst I benefitted from taking time for myself).
I started with a Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung meditation and, when I realised WB was still awake, I moved on to a new meditation for me, one which focused on "I am". I had my eyes closed as I did it, but I was intensely aware that WB was intrigued by this and eventually he joined in with the "I am" mantra, which felt so beautiful as we were sharing something very precious together. By choosing to make time for myself and my spiritual practice in a moment that would previously have been filled with tension and impatience, we connected in a whole new way.
Since that night, WB and I have tried the "I am" meditation a few times, adjusting it to suit us, and it fills my heart with joy to see him joining in with something that obviously attracts him. He is, I have to say, very confident in expressing who he is (he has regularly insisted he is "wonderful" whenever we have tried telling him he is "beautiful" - apparently wonderful is the word he identifies with more!) and he has recently decided that he is "brave", so whenever we do this he repeats "I am brave" whilst moving his hand towards his heart centre.
It seems this is one area that I can learn a lot from my son, as my internal mantra is often far more negative! In which case I feel that this meditation not only solidifies WB's natural understanding of who he is but is also helps me to break negative thought patterns and identify with a more positive understanding of myself. And all because I decided to make time for spirituality in my life... isn't that amazing?
And so now, whenever I feel tension building within my body, or stress, anxiety or fear rising up within, I try to make sure I find time to quieten the mind and body so that I can get away from the everyday stuff that is bothering me and rediscover that centre of peace. For me, this is intrinsically linked with spiritual practices such as chanting and yoga, as the mantras stop my mind from wandering over every little detail that is stressing me out and the yoga helps to ease the tension within my physical body. And once that happens, I begin to connect to wisdom and peace that I would never have been able to access if I hadn't made that time.
So, for me, making time in our lives, no matter how busy they are, is so very important. In fact I am beginning to learn that the busier our lives the more important it is that we do this. And when I find myself thinking "I haven't got time for this today, I have too much on" I am trying to reply with "then today it is more important than ever".
Tell me, how do you find time for spirituality and what effect does it have for you?
Whilst Spirit Kid Network is still very new, I hope that you can see where I'm going with it, and that the content I have already written has been helpful, encouraging and inspiring.
If you like what you see, please do consider nominating Spirit Kid Network in the "Fresh Voice" category in the BiBs and "Best New Blog" in the MADs by clicking on the links below. Thanks.