By Jasjit Sangha
New Beginnings and Possibilities
Something about the crispness in the air, the eagerness of the children as they start a new year, and of the end of the leisure time of summer, makes fall seem like a time of new beginnings and possibilities. The bustle of back to school serves as a marker of time, showing me how much older my children are, as they take on new responsibilities like taking the streetcar alone or making their own lunches. The shift in season is also a reminder of the hopes I had for myself as a stepmother, while offering another year of opportunity to realize them.
One hope I always have is to cultivate more patience in my interactions with my children and really enjoy the present moment. To live life, rather than being overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks and power struggles that often play out in a family. As a stepmother, I have the gift of experience to know that my time with my children is limited, and before I know it they will be living their lives independently. I have lived through the most stressful time for many parents, the dreaded teenage years, with my sanity intact. I know that all the excessive worrying we do as mothers is futile and trying to micro manage our children just serves to make us more irritable and anxious.
You would think that would make mothering easier my two younger children easier, but it doesn’t. I still let my emotions get in the way of my relationships with my children – especially when it is way past bedtime and one child doesn’t want to stop playing Lego and the other is taking too long choosing her outfit for the next day. Even though I know yelling doesn’t help, the words just splurt out of my mouth like steam from a tea kettle. Although I may get compliance, it comes at a cost – instead of contributing to feelings of harmony in the family I produce feelings of agitation.
This fall as I get another chance at a new beginning, I am continuing my journey to live closer to my true self, from a place of joy and vulnerability rather than control or anger. To appreciate what I have in my life and the small wonders I encounter in my day. The main method I am using to nurture a feeling of wholeness in myself in meditation. As I chronicled in my book “Stepmothering A Spiritual Journey” it was meditation and my spiritual community that helped me get through my hardest moments as a stepmother. Although I have maintained a practice of mediation for many years I go through phases when my commitment to this practice wavers. Recently, I have started to meditate again every day.
I started off with meditating for only 20 minutes or less to give myself a chance to rejuvenate at the end of the day. Then I began to sit for longer periods and really feel into the peacefulness of the moment. The result is that I am starting to have more energy and enthusiasm and most importantly, more patience with my family. It took a little tweaking of my schedule to make time for mediation, but it has been worth it. For those who may want to start meditating but do not know how, I really enjoy Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) to help get me started on meditating. Another option is to sit quietly with eyes closed, and focus on your breath. If you want more instruction there are many resources and classes available, often for free at a South Asian religious venue or Buddhist temple.
To other mothers and stepmothers who read this, does a change in season spark a chance for self-reflection? Have you ever turned to mediation during a process of change? I would love to hear from you! You can contact me at email@example.com.
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