This week's blog post is from Adam and Emily, a couple from Alameda, California, who are using the eight points to find balance, unity, and sanity in their life with a new baby.
Adam: A week or two before Rosalie arrived, my boss told me to "get ready for the atom bomb" because everything was about to turn upside down for Emily and me. Okay, this way of putting it didn't quite meet my ideal of non-violent language, but the meaning was right on. Our lives were about to transform, and there was going to be a whole lot of energy released in the process.
Adam & Emily: Of course, this huge increase in family duties and challenges has meant lots of opportunities for whittling down our own personal wants and needs in favor of what's best for the family – a.k.a. spiritual growth! We've tried to refocus our day to hone in on being united as a family, in as many ways as we've been able. Here are a few of our experiments:
Emily, the mantram: For me, Easwaran nails it when he says, "Parents of small children will find the mantram a perfect lullaby." For the first four months of Rosalie's life (she's almost 8 months now), Adam and I would take turns bouncing Rosalie to sleep or calming her, especially during the wee hours of the night. I found singing the matram to her particularly helpful for my own sanity, and found Rosie calmed with it too. If I was really tired and couldn't even muster the energy to sing it myself, I would play it on my phone for her. Our friend, Jan, a passage meditator and musician, recorded this mantram song for our daughter. He called it Rama For Rosalie since Rama is both my mantram and Adam's (now it's our family mantram!). We still sing the mantram to Rosie a lot, but thankfully she's sleeping through the night these days.
Also, she's recently graduated to sitting at the table with us for breakfast and dinner, so we've been including her in saying grace and mantrams which she seems to like.
Adam, sharing passages: For a while we didn't know how to share passages with Rosalie – after all, she's just a baby. But recently we had an idea. At bedtime we spend a few moments at a little puja table we've set up in her room. (A puja table is a spot for spiritual connection with the divine, a.k.a. devotional worship – check out Rosie's in the photo below). As an extension of Rosalie's bedtime story, Goodnight Moon, we make a visit all together to the little puja table in her room and say goodnight to Baby Jesus, Mother Mary, Krishna, the Buddha, and Easwaran. It occurred to us that this could be our opportunity to share a brief child friendly passage – like Let Nothing Upset You, the Prayer of St. Francis, or The Path. Rosalie tends to be pretty calm and engaged as we recite these, and it's been a fun way to be united around a passage as a family.
Emily and Adam, one pointed attention: Emily: I pay full attention to Rosalie while she is nursing, as opposed to looking at my phone or being lost in other thoughts. Adam: and I've tried to use eye contact with Rosalie as a cue to be one pointed (and often to say the mantram). She can stare for a long time!
We both found these experiments to be valuable. Discussing recently, we feel that she really has benefited from our focused attention. We aren't sure if she has learned to be more one pointed, or just has kept away from learning to be distracted. One mom commented that compared to her baby, Rosalie is able to concentrate on playing with a toy for a long time.
Adam, inspiration from Granny: Since learning that Rosalie was on the way, I've been working occasionally on a pet project to compile Easwaran's stories about Granny. After all, I figured, I want to be more like Granny! So I started making note of the "Granny Stories" I found – from Eawaran's books, audio and video talks, and journal articles – and putting them all into one website, with the original material from Easwaran right there on the page. I've been calling it "the Granny Project" and have it online here: http://bit.ly/GrannyProject
I hope the project will help some others to connect with Granny and Easwaran – I know it has already helped me to keep them "with me" in my heart and mind more of the time, and I'm grateful to them both for that. So far the project only has a fraction of all the Granny stories out there. But part of the fun of the project is contributing to it together. You can suggest additions via the link at top right on each page. The project has already been a collaboration: my mom has found many of the stories, and Emily has given lots of advice for making the website usable.
Adam and Emily: The eight points – and you all – have been tremendous sources of strength on this journey. Even so, it's often tough going. Little experiments like these help us take courage and have faith that little by little we will move toward our ideal together, and "bring forth much fruit with patience."
What's helped you move a bit closer to your ideals in your own family life, whether with friends, partners, parents, or kids? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!