Before I had a child, I would contemplate all the things I wanted to teach her.
I would think of my clients, my colleagues, my friends and myself, and consider those things that cause suffering or pain. Then I would explore those resources that were helpful in the overcoming of those difficulties.
I saw in my clients, and indeed myself, the habits or beliefs that would get in the way of achieving full potential and total wellbeing. I also recognised, with gratitude, the abundance of skills and practices, attitudes and habits in those around me that are available to us all in order to cultivate happiness, wellbeing and resilience – ultimately all those things I would wish for my children.
It was fairly straightforward in my mind…
I would teach her to practice gratitude. Knowing that cultivating this attitude almost above all others, would bring her an appreciation of our already abundant and privileged lives.
I would teach her Vipassana – mindfulness meditation. The bliss, flow and acceptance of truly being in the moment and all the clarity and peace that can bring.
I would bring her to yoga. Show her too how she can connect with her unique body wisdom and tune into her heart, her gut and her intellect. How movement, balance, flexibility and strength of the body can lead to those qualities in the mind and in life.
I would encourage kind attention to others and foremost to herself. Show her how paying attention to her own desires and joys provide the compass that will guide her on her own unique path of fulfillment and purpose. Highlight to her the importance of self-care and the selfless nature of giving that can only come from our overflow and not from duty, resentment or martyrdom.
I would foster an appreciation of nature and respect for all life, giving her the experience and knowledge that nature can bring us back to a state of harmony and balance. I would help her learn that nature is our teacher, our healer, our restorer and our life giver.
I would teach her endless fascination and curiosity, a life-long love of learning that would keep her brain and her spirit alive and open endless doors of possibility.
All of these wondrous things and more I would attempt to teach.
As I spend more and more time in the presence of babies and children and each and every day with my beautiful little girl, I am in awe. I quickly appreciate that I am not to be her teacher in these things.
Far from it.
She has already achieved absolute mastery. Rather then, she is my mentor.
I must simply observe, with joyful adoration and gratitude, how she makes her way in the world. How she navigates each moment.
If I pay attention and notice, I see she can teach me all of these things and more.
How to be in the moment and in the flow with such precision as to effortlessly let go of worry, or a troublesome event and move on, without picking up excess baggage.
She can teach me how to make mistakes gracefully, excitedly trying again and again in her own quiet and determined process of experimentation that is a hallmark of her contented play.
She can teach me to be free of the constraints of what “should be” as she weaves entire worlds in her unfettered imagination.
I need not teach her the power of now. For her, only the present moment exists as she moves joyfully from one moment to the next.
I need not teach her a healthy respect for the natural world. She had it the moment she was born, when taking her to the woods would open her eyes wide in wonder and when laying her on the soft grass would soothe her. Her first dew covered spiders-web discovery was a source of endless fascination that told me children don’t need to be taught to pay attention; it is a natural state when their sense of curiosity and wonder is aroused.
I do not need to show her how to move her body into set poses. She is already infinitely flexible and her delight in dancing, running and embracing is as natural as breathing.
No, my job is to create more space not more instruction. To be mindful of barriers that I, or the world, might put in place that threaten her expanding sense of possibility and potential.
I must quickly follow her example and address in my own life those things that are not in the natural flow of things:
Where my own inhibitions may stifle my expression of joy or wonder.
I must avoid the stagnancy and stiffness in my body that could come with getting older and be wary of inflexibility of mind that can all too easily go along with this.
I need merely to enable for her time and space in natural environments to feed the seed of love until it grows into a sense of connection that is at the very heart of her character and way of being, as it is in mine.
So in these precious early years, I am not to be a teacher nor even a facilitator, for none of that is required. All I need do is enable and allow that which is already thriving.
That’s not to say no boundaries, for even a wild and free river needs steadfast banks to run it’s true course. But, if I can be humble and open enough to really see the truth in front of me, the wonderful example of how to really fully live this life with arms and heart wide open, then maybe I can learn enough to help us both when the terrain changes down the road as it inevitably will.