I just finished one of the best books I’ve ever read – The Untethered Soul. In it, there is a paragraph that explains spirituality in the simplest way possible. And as a new parent I want to take it a step further and connect the two- parenthood as a form of spirituality.
“In the most basic sense the word “beyond” captures the true meaning of spirituality. Going beyond means going past where you are. It means not staying in your current state. When you constantly go beyond yourself, there are no more limitations.”
In the Vedic tradition, my teacher Thom Knoles recounts a story of when one of the Masters of the Vedic lineage, Guru Deva, comes out from meditating and living as a recluse in the forest for years. A group gathers nearby and anxiously await his first words. To their dismay, his only words were “Nivar Tatvam” which means “Transcend Where You Are”. For those “in the know”, he was really saying it all in just those two words.
So anything we do, that pushes us beyond our current state of being can be looked upon as spirituality. If we take this definition and apply it to parenthood, well, you get a whole bunch of spirituality.
Becoming a parent means stepping into the unknown in so many ways. First for the birth mother who has no idea how hormones and the physical part of carrying a baby will affect her for the next nine months. Add to that, the intensity of labor and all the things that can occur throughout it.
Then we move into the next phase- post partum. The baby arrives and overnight a new daily reality commences. You don’t just ease into this. Boom, it just happens. And overnight you’re dealing with trying to find a new routine, lack of sleep and caring for another human when you have had no prior experience whatsoever in doing this new job. Can you think of something that stretches you more than this? That takes you beyond? And we’re only at 1 month.
To come- navigating all kinds of things like your child’s personality, tantrums, rebellion, letting go and letting them make their own decisions, and the list goes on and on and on. And you never stop being a parent until the day you die. How’s that for a commitment into the unknown?
This brings me to my next point- surrender. I’ve written plenty about it in this blog as it’s something I personally am working on daily. When we surrender to what is we are putting our personal preferences aside (the one that the little self has) and making a conscious decision to let go and go with the flow. No matter what that looks like. At first it’s really hard to do and feels quite unnatural. But over time, you realize this leap into the unknown or better said, trying something new is key to living a life free of pain and suffering.
So every time we encounter a problem or something or someone that bothers us and we feel our feelings and then just surrender or let it go- we are practicing and finding our spirituality. We are going beyond what comes natural to us. We are trying something new.
As a parent this has been most present for me on the nights I’ve been on duty with Cruz. I may want to feed him and go quickly back to sleep, but sometimes he has other plans and it can take another hour after thirty minutes of feeding to get him back down.
These are the moments that I begin practicing surrender. When I am able to surrender to the moment, even if it isn’t going according to what I want to happen- my love for him grows and my patience does too. The minutes pass more quickly and I am just there- present, in the moment and loving every second of it. Surrendering takes me beyond my self and to a much more enjoyable place.
Compare this to the nights where I begin to get annoyed and cranky. I systematically run thru all the tricks I know to get him back down and in doing so totally tune out from what he’s showing me he needs. Pushing those needs aside and placing mine- sleep ahead of his. When this happens, I don’t enjoy him as much and I start to get bitter.
Changing my mindset and catching myself provides a whole different outcome and experience. So it’s not what’s happening that is the problem. It’s how I decide to react to it that is.
MY NEW SPIRITUAL TEACHER
So with that I’ll say that Cruz is my new spiritual teacher. He’s teaching me to continually go beyond what I know and what I’ve done and known for all of my lifetime. He is teaching me patience, to slow down even more, to be present, to love and to surrender. Once again, he’s helping me find spirituality.
For those of you contemplating parenthood but freaked out at all the “things” that come with it- less sleep, more responsibility, etc., what they don’t tell you is that the love you feel for this new being is so big that none of that matters. It is a thing but no longer a thing if that makes sense.
Also know that fear of the unknown is totally normal. And it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go through with something. We now know that going into the unknown is one of the best ways to level up. It is always tough, but also brings maximum rewards. In this case, a true spiritual boost.