By Megha Bajaj December 2008 We want the best for our children. we desire to gift them a spiritually attuned life – so that they can enjoy healthy bodies, open minds, loving hearts and yes, the untouchable happiness that arises from realizing that they are a sacred soul. How do we achieve this? Perhaps this unique letter will give you some ideas Watering the shootsOne mother shares her experience with giving her children a spiritual and value-based upbringing” and “by Najoo Sohonie”Most of us bring up our children the way we have been brought up ourselves. In spite of the many differences of opinions we may have with our parents, we seem to end up, in manyways, doing the things our parents did. So, when I am asked about spiritual parenting and how I have brought up my children, I answer that parenting is an ongoing process – a cycle of how you are brought up, and, in turn, how you bring your children up. Here are a few personal examples that may offer insights to parents keen on giving their children good parenting. Exposure to different pathsI was extremely fortunate to have been born in a house where I was exposed to many different paths of spirituality. I learnt healing at the tender age of five years from my aunt, who lived in the same house, and who was very much into Christian Science. When I was in school, my father took sanyas with Osho, and I remember him taking me along to Osho’s (then called Rajneesh) discourses, in his private residence on Peddar Road, Mumbai, every evening. As I went to college, I would go along with my dad to meditation camps, held by Rajneesh, in Mount Abu. I appreciated the freedom that my parents gave me in choosing my spiritual path and the non-dogmatic approach to religion. As my own children grew, I decided not to ‘impose’ any particular religious belief on them, but allow them to be exposed to as many cultures, religions, beliefs and faiths as possible, in the hope that as they matured into young adults, they could choose the faith that appealed to them the most. However, there was always an undercurrent of spirituality in the house as we were growing up. My children learnt to ‘meditate’ when they were really young, and would accompany me or my dad as we would sit to meditate. My daughter, who is now an accomplished artist, always says that this diversity of cultural backgrounds and religious/spiritual inputs have contributed and inspired her in the creation of her art. Sometimes, my children feel that they would have appreciated a more structured religious upbringing, rather than the total freedom which I gave them. They felt a bit confused from time to time, as their mother was of Parsi origin, and their father was a Hindu. Maybe, with children of mixed religious origins, the parents can decide at an early age in which direction they would like to steer their children’s religious upbringing. However, the role of parents, in my eyes, should always be limited to that of a guide. Sharing and participatingWhenever I would attend a new programme, I would come home and excitedly share my learning with the children, who were more than happy to hear what I had to say. When I completed the Silva Mind Control Programme in 1993, they were so taken up with what I said that they attended and completed the entire programme at the tender ages of 14 and 15, and learnt to meditate ‘scientifically’ by lowering their brain cycles to alpha level whenever they chose to. I can say that they are still using this technique till date, to relax their minds. Connecting with nature and the universeOne of my favourite childhood memories is of sitting on my balcony with my dad and watching the golden sky as the sun would set in the evenings. It would be a silent time, during which we didn’t need words to communicate. Other times, we would wake up early in the morning to go to the Gateway of India, to watch the sunrise. Many times, we would take a walk down Marine Drive or Worli Sea Face in Mumbai, just absorbing the beauty of nature and feeling one with our Creator. My dad and I also loved to garden on our terrace garden, sowing seeds with our own hands and watching them grow into beautiful plants, fruits and vegetables – always being in gratitude to Mother Nature for the abundance with which She provided and shared her bounty. Today, this love of nature has translated into a beautiful garden in our terrace flat, which my son tends to with meticulous love. He has taken over where his grand-dad stopped, and it is with awe that we watch every new bud that is born, every new petal as it unfolds its beauty, and every new fruit as it waits heavily on its branch to be plucked. In fact, we are so in communion with the plants, that we rarely pluck the fruits and vegetables for consumption. We simply prefer to enjoy their beauty as they adorn the terrace. Spreading spiritualityApart from my two children, Maya and Nikhil, I can easily say that I have hundreds of other ‘children’ and they do really call me ‘mom’. Maybe my maternal instinct is really strong, maybe I just love to nurture – but I give to my students the same love and spiritual guidance that I have been giving my own children. I share with them all the things I learn, all the books I read, all the practices that I find useful, and the experiences that make my life wondrous. We are all on a spiritual journey here together – whether we are in the body of a mother, father, child or student. We are here to help each other grow and evolve. If we are alert and aware, even children can help you on your spiritual path. I am a continuous learner and find every moment miraculous. Najoo Sohonie is a life coach and a teacher of the SSY (Siddha Samadhi Yoga) which regularly holds parenting courses and infant development programmes. Dear mom and dad,What a moment it was. Just a few hours ago, I held the little one in my arms for the first time. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. So I did both! Everything about him seemed magical – from his tiny pink hands and feet, to his beautiful face – all scrunched up as if in deep thought. Every now and then he opened his eyes and looked around, as if waking from a deep slumber. I guess nine months is a long time. And yet, every bit of the pain, every nauseous feeling, was worth it. How I wish you were here with me. I want to see you again. Experience your love. The warmth. You will never read this letter, and yet, I must write. Your parenting has created me – the profound learnings from everyday instances, some special gifts that have lasted me until now, and I think will last a lifetime, and of course, attitudes that are so much a part of me that I can’t imagine myself without them. So many memories come flooding into my mind as I write… One of the most beautiful gifts that you have given me is happiness. I remember how deeply involved you would get in all the activities that would give me joy. I remember the attention you would give me in my blissful moments, teaching my subconscious that I need to be happy to get your time and approval. Today, I recognise that so many parents, unknowingly, do just the opposite. A child could be sitting amidst a room of adults, happy in his own world, and no one would look at him. But the moment he would cry, everyone would surround him, pamper him, unconsciously feeding his subconscious with the belief, “When I am happy I get no attention, but when I am unhappy I get a lot of it. So I should be unhappy more often.” Such a small shift – but what a dramatic difference it has made in my life. Happiness has become a way of life. And yet, tears have their place too. I used to see as a child, that whenever a friend would cry, the first thing her parents would say was, “Come, come, don’t cry. What is there to cry in such a small thing. Let’s not become cry babies.” And if my friend happened to be a boy, his parents would immediately mock, “Don’t cry like a girl”. But you both allowed me to be. Whenever I would cry, all you would do is hold my hand and sit with me. No words, no explanations, just a silence that allowed me to cry my heart out and yet, the touch told me that you were there, ready to talk when I was. I too will allow my child to laugh, and also cry. I want him to recognise that crying is okay. When we suppress, we don’t express. And suppression leads to all kinds of ‘emotional baggages and bodily damages’! Today, I realise the value of the silent support that you gave me, and don’t feel scared to express myself through tears when I need to. Smiley faceI don’t know if you remember this incident, but it has been etched in my memory. I think I was about eight years old. Mom, you had stuck a piece of paper on the refrigerator which was divided into two – one side had a smiley face and the other, a sad face. Whenever I did something positive, you would make me write it down on the smiley side. I was so proud of myself – I had 10 things written under the smiley face and none under the sad one. I came home one day from school with a beautiful pencil which had a colourful feather stuck on its back. You asked me where I got it from, and I mumbled, “The teacher gave it to me.” I remember feeling so scared – because in reality, I had stolen the pencil from my partner because I liked it and I wanted it for myself. You must have known. After all, mothers have this uncanny way of ‘knowing’. Gently but firmly you asked again, “How did you get this pencil. I want the truth”. And with tears in my eyes I confessed it all. I expected to be scolded. But all you did was hug me. You said to me, “I love you. And my love for you has only grown after this incident b
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