Consume this hesitation of not knowing.
Only walk forward.
For that is why you are here.
~Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Why do we find it so difficult to love? How can we raise our children to love themselves, other beings, and the world? I think this is my most important task as a parent. And in nurturing this love in my children, it will be nurtured in me as well.
Again, doubt is an obstacle to this love. We don't love ourselves fully. We don't trust the world, not really. Definitely not other beings. Maybe not even our children. They disappoint us. They show their unique humanness. They have needs. It makes us uncomfortable. It drains us. It challenges us, sometimes too much. They don't look the way we thought they would, don't act the way we think they should, have different tastes, different ideas than our own. How to accept them? How to accept the messiness of other beings? Especially of those beings who we have actively invited into our lives?
Or maybe we just doubt that we are able love in such a way. Maybe we don't trust our own capacity to open to others and the world. We don't think we are that good. Or that our hearts can be that big.
We need to start with ourselves. With accepting our own messiness, our own needs, our own wayward desires. It's ok. This being human business is chaotic. But it is also beautiful, magical and incredible. The muscle to work is appreciation. Appreciation of things as they are. How do we cultivate that? By pausing, opening and relaxing. We have to allow ourselves to pause in all of our busyness, all of our feeling hassledness, all of our irritability and just notice. Notice what is arising in your mind. Just notice it - don't do anything with it. Let it fade away naturally. Take in the space where you are. Notice what is around you. Maybe a sunbeam is shining in the window. Maybe the dust bunny on the floor resembles an elephant. Maybe you can hear the far off sound of a bus horn and it just brings you right here, right now, almost breaking your heart in its vividness. And that opening to the now, is also allowing your heart to open. It can't stay closed. If you still feel shut down, closed off, just notice that too. Don't judge it. That will pass as well. We can just notice our breath, going in and out, in and out. How wonderful that is. That we are here, breathing. It is a small miracle really, this human form.
I was noticing lately that I have been comparing my youngest son to my eldest. Saying aloud sometimes, "Gee, R never did that at your age." or "Wow, I never had to watch R like I do you." And I realized that in that comparing, I wasn't really allowing my youngest to fully express himself. Part of me was rejecting him, however subtly, because he was different from my eldest. I was projecting certain expectations onto him from my prior experience, rather than just being with him, relating to him openly and cleanly.
So I am working on being mindful of my comparisons. I am working on loving him just as he is, who he is, in all his unique basic goodness. We sometimes think if we follow the path of mindfulness we become almost zombie-like - clean slates without personality. But really, being present and fully accepting ourselves and others means creating a space where all our unique quirkiness can really shine out - our own unique ways of expressing our sanity and brilliance.
This is what I am working on. Loving everything. Moving beyond doubt. Moving beyond means noticing when I do doubt. And breathing through it. I was going to write a post today on mindfulness practices to do with young children, but this arose instead. Love.