Buddhism for Mothers

These days it is very rare for me to finish a book. I often have high hopes but after putting it down and forgetting about it for another month, I often give up.  But I’ve started downloading them to my phone so that when I have a spare moment (often 30 seconds or less) I grab the chance to read a page or so. (“Pages” on iPhones are very small). Sometimes I get really lucky and even get half and hour or so in the car whilst Eamon naps instead of mindlessly checking Facebook for the hundredth time that day.

I’ve always been interested in Buddhism but Buddhism for Mothers (or Buddhism for Mothers for readers in America) is the first book that has been entirely relate-able and practical from start to finish. Unlike others it didn’t recommend hours of mediation and instead gave useful advice on how to use mindfulness to become better parents.

I love how it regards the challenge of raising children as spiritual teaching and refers to them as little ‘zen masters’ “constantly yanking us back into the present moment, setting us problems to solve and forcing us to question our assumptions. It’s like they were sent to challenge our every expectation, opinion and character trait. They are the best teachers available when it comes to showing us that nothing lasts; no sooner do we feel we have a handle on our relationship with them, than they present new challenges or they’ve entered their next phase.”

And I’m not sure if I want to admit this, but this is exactly my brain after a bad day. It’s a good reminder that these feelings are completely temporary and in our control if we choose to think differently about our situation. “‘Fed up.’ ‘Pushed too far.’ ‘At the end of my tether.’ ‘At wit’s end.’ ‘At the bring.’ ‘Depressed.’ These are the emotion depths we can sink to as mothers.  When I’m feeling at my lowest ebb emotionally, I notice my tendency to generalise the negativity; everything is dreadful, it always has been and it always will be and it’s all my fault – and everybody else’s too. It sounds almost comical when I’m in a lighter mood but at the time I believe these thoughts”.

And a reminder to listen without adult judgement is a reminder I need at times. “When we say, ‘Don’t be silly’ or ‘Don’t be so sensitive’, when we dismiss their concerns, the child feels as though their version of reality is irrelevant or unimportant… Using the attention-without-comment approach that we practice in formal meditation, we keep our thoughts and opinions out of the process so that we can focus on the speaker’s version of reality.”

“We need to convey the message that their are no wrong feelings, only wrong behaviours”  Something that I feel is especially important when raising boys.

And finally one of my favourite messages of this book (and in all Buddhist teachings) is that of compassion and loving kindness.  “Learning the importance of compassion has worked wonders for all my relationships. No matter what kind of relationship difficulty I’m experiencing, if I can remember that this person suffers too, and I can dwell on it for a while what their suffering might be like, then compassion is the only response.”

So tell me, have you read this one? Got any other recommendations for me? I need a new one to download.

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