A cozy set of practical guidelines for mindful parents:
Practice in plain sight. Place your zafu, or meditation cushion, in a conspicuous place in your home, such as on your bedroom floor. As you pass by, let it invite you to practice meditation daily. Even five minutes morning or night can turn your life around.
Live by routine. Take the needless guesswork out of meals and bedtimes. Let everyone relax into the predictable flow of a healthy and secure life.
Elevate the small. And overlook the large. Want to change the world? Forget the philosophical lessons. Instruct your child in how to brush his teeth, and then do it, together, twice a day.
Turn off the engines. Discipline TV and computer usage and reduce artificial distraction, escapism, and stimulation. This begins with you.
Give more attention. And less of everything else. Devote one hour a day to giving undistracted attention to your children. Not in activities driven by your agenda, but according to their terms. Use a timer to keep yourself honest. Undivided attention is the most concrete expression of love you can give.
Take a break. Before you break in two. Designate a chair in your home as a "quiet chair," where you can retreat to decelerate conflicts. Or walk around the block and see how quickly your own two feet can stamp out the fire on your head. Suggestion: change out of bathrobe before leaving house.
Be the first to apologize. Practice the miracle of atonement and instantly restore household harmony. By your doing, your children will learn how.
Be the last to know. Refrain from making judgments and foregone conclusions about your children. Watch their lives unfold, and be surprised. The show is splendid, and yours is the best seat in the house.
This originally appeared as part of the article "Parents, Leave Your Home" in the March 2009 issue of the Shambhala Sun. Well-worn robes are the best kind.
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