Recently, I was lucky enough to teach 15 lovely men and women in Jakarta about the Sun Yoga way of developing the whole child. Amongst the course materials that came with the two-day course was a book I wrote in 2008, Live Patanjali! Yoga Wisdom for Everyday Living. It’s kind of an exercise book for the yogi mind.
That book did remarkably well, and the first print has run out. It was serialised for six consecutive months in Yoga Journal UK and USA, and I was invited to give numerous, well-paid talks in the UK on the lucrative after-dinner talk circuits.
But a couple of the participants asked, what has it got to do with children?
Because we parent and we teach from where we are.
For example, my children’s father and I are both boisterous, irreverent, fun-loving, childish and quite untidy. No way were we going to have studious, quiet and tidy children. One, our older daughter Kat, is an anomaly. But the others can raise the dead with the racket they make. Even though I have insisted on a no-football-in-the-house rule, it is seldom obeyed and things do get broken. But, hey, childhood memories are more important, right, than a strict, cold, house-proud mum???
Classic photo of my youngest and her friends, who made an almighty mess in our house with blue paint. She gets up to mischief that makes me scream, but where does that come from???? Yes. Her parents.
My children are lucky, because their father and I have not finished growing up yet, and we parent them from this place of magic and wonder. We couldn’t be draconian even if we wanted to. It’s kind of like a crazy, hippy household but it works somehow. In our family, the children learn the rules of engagement early (no rudeness, for a start, and no means no, though there are few no’s in our house) and they learn discipline from team sports. Other than that, we have very few rules. Probably because their father is a very sunny person.
His child of eternal sunshine over the years:
Over the years, quite a few people have asked me, “What if I am in a dark and painful place myself? How do I parent?”
I always advocate self-care when it comes to parenting. We need time out on our own – it is a necessity, not a luxury – to introspect, to look at ourselves honestly, to make a plan to evolve and to embrace all our broken pieces with love. Without that honesty and acceptance, our children will bear the consequences as will our nearest and dearest.
I once knew someone who had a harsh childhood. In his forties, he was still jumpy and nervous, lashing out at those who loved him the way a child who is angry at its parent would. He would have been an amazing person if he had taken the opportunity to grow, because from hardships come some of the most incredible, tender, insightful people in the world. But we need courage and support to change our fate, to stop a painful history being passed on.
I wrote about a Swedish yogi I met recently, who had a similarly bad childhood, but he, the Swede, took the conscious decision not to repeat history (i.e. never to bring pain to others). Thus, he comports himself with awareness. Mathias is quiet and strong when it matters; he is insightful and a very family-orientated man. He is ever-so-lovely, truly a very special person, and he touched me deeply. I wrote about him here.
We hold the future in our hands, and by extension, the future of those in our care. Whether we choose to work on ourselves to fulfil our destiny or continue sleepwalking unconsciously through life leads to two very different places. And where we are is where we parent and teach from.
Description of Live Patanjali can be found on the Amazon page. However, as it is currently out of print, the cheapest used copy costs £42.76. You can get a copy here at £10, which is inclusive of postage and packing.