Buddhism is growing in popularity in the modern western world. This is not surprising, as our lives get faster and more hectic - we begin to look for an alternative. We rely on mindfulness and meditation techniques to calm our minds in a world that is competitive, violent and seemingly uncaring. I have considered myself a Buddhist for quite a while now and have recently been attending classes at my local Buddhist Centre. I have found, as I continue my journey into Buddhism that it is very relevant to parenting and can actually help us to make the most of being a parent. As it turns out, young children and babies are natural little Buddhas themselves.
As the modern world moves so quickly and there seems to be so much to do, it is hard for us to slow down and live in the moment. We are always thinking about tomorrow, what happened yesterday, what needs doing. When we have children, as hard as we try to rush forward along with the rest of the world - they won't let us. Try to rush through a beautiful garden with a one year old and they won't allow it - they will insist on stopping regularly to touch the grass, look at a garden ornament or try making a mud pie. Children do not think ahead and they do not rush through life. They truly live in the moment, enjoying whatever activity engrosses them at the time. We can learn a lot from our children.
As parents, we can find it frustrating when our children live in moment, forcing us to slow down. There is a lot of joy in seeing a child totally engaged in play, or discovery, in no hurry to move on and not worrying about what will come next. We are in so much of a rush to get things done, that we find it hard to accept this wonderful gift that our children are giving us and feel that we need to move them along with us to the next task. But we could learn a lot in observing this behaviour in our children and not putting a stop to it when we can.
Of course there will be times when we are genuinely in a hurry. But it will benefit us greatly to practice this mindfulness that children are naturally able to engage with, slow down and enjoy the moment. Try to see life from the point of view of your child. This is a big new world for them, which they want to enjoy in their own time, developing at their own pace. Take the time to enjoy what you are doing in each given moment, there is no rush. If you are tempted to hurry on ahead, remember to observe your own little Buddha and experience their enjoyment of the world. You might just see it in a whole new way.