Freedom within the boundaries of parenting

Love sunrise

We all have constraints.  Being a parent we have quite a few that just go with the territory.  Just to name a handful:  Constraints on our time, mobility, the number of hands you have free, the number of hours of sleep, time to connect with your partner, how far your dollar needs to go, physical space available, where you can go, what you can do.

If we really believed happiness depended on having more, certainly we would never have children.  In fact many people are making a choice to not have children because of the real and imagined constraints it would place on their lives.

The media loves to jump on the bandwagon and pull out studies comparing the happiness of child free couples and those with children.

Perhaps it is not whether one has or hasn't got children that is the issue but whether we perceive if we are living in lack or abundance.

Another way to look at this is, do we see the constraints that children put on your life as lack or do we see these constrains as the boundaries within which we learn to play?

The yogis understand this.  The practice of yoga can be seen as a way of creating a better, sweeter life.  However nowhere in yoga philosophy does it say that Samadhi, or our blissful transcendent nature, has anything to do with doing and having whatever in the world we want.  Contrary to what the media would have us believe about the free spirited nature of yoga, the practice of yoga is in fact a narrow discipline.  Constraints and boundaries are put in place so that we can begin to see the good stuff arise.

Within the Yogasutra there is discussion of a clear 8-limbed path in the pursuit of a state of yoga.  The Yamas and the Niyamas can all be seen as boundaries that we put on our behaviour to create more positive affects in our lives.  In fact the fifth limb is Pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses, a conscious effort to keep our senses focused inwards rather than reaching outwards for more.

Take another example from yoga.  The physical practice of Ashtanga Yoga contains within the system a set series of postures, each pose connected with a specific in or out breath, each post connected with a  specific point for the eyes to rest.  When the body and mind are given a specific framework to work within, this framework can begin to dissolve so that freedom can arise.  Freedom from thinking about what comes next, freedom from struggling with a new movement in the body, freedom from working out which limb goes where.  What initially looks like an impingement or a constraint, turns out to be a gateway to freedom.

It takes a shift in perspective to view the limits in our time, mobility, finances that children place on our lives as actually the boundaries that open up possibilities for growth.

The limits that children place on our lives are actually the boundaries that open up possibilities for growth.
The limits that children place on our lives are actually the boundaries that open up possibilities for growth.

With early rising children, we begin to discover the beauty of beginning the day greeted by the sun and a warm hug.

With the noise and energy that children bring to daily life, we can really appreciate and use well the pockets of time that are silent and are our own.

With the daily practice of being in the company of our children, we have the opportunity to learn about love that has no limits.

With interrupted mealtimes, sleep and conversations, we discover how to relate to our husbands, wives or partners with care and compassion in the face of life's challenges.

With unfinished chores, imperfect houses and another sink of dirty dishes, we can learn that our ultimate happiness is not dependant on any of these things.

With countless hours at the park, we can learn how to slow down and be present.

How do you see the constraints that children put on the lives of parents?

Sandra Wang2 Comments