A teacher once told me: If you really think you’re enlightened, go and spend a full month with your parents.
So that’s what I decided to do….
I have been living as an expat for almost 10 years now in Europe, Africa and Asia. I generally visit my parents and home town once or twice a year. My parents still live in the house I grew up in in a small village in the South of the Netherlands.
Normally when I visit and spend several days with them, I do get frustrated by some of their long-standing patterns, habits, tendencies and ‘stuck-ness’ of my parents. Sound familiar?
This time I decided I will change my practice. I decided to try one thing this visit:
Every time I would get triggered by something my father or mother would say or do, I would stop. Then I would look deeply inside to observe whether I have something of that tendency in me as well.
I wanted to learn as much about my own blind spots and shadows as possible by using my parents as a mirroring coach. It wasn’t an easy exercise and truly required all the mindfulness I could gather. And even then I often failed! Yet, I never learned so much about my personality as during the last few weeks.
I realized that I have parts of my mother’s insecurities, my father’s financial worry, my mother’s stress before events, my father’s need for continuous productivity.
But I also realized the beautiful seeds that they transmitted to me. Their ability to empathize, communicate effectively, be spontaneous, energetic, sportive, business-minded and much more. In these weeks, my parents truly turned into some of my best spiritual teachers so far. Although part of me is happy this is just a one-month spiritual retreat!
I still need to address my limiting patterns, but I guess that through this practice I became less judgmental of my patterns. And that helps my practice again…
Who knows my practice eventually will help them become more flexible and make positive changes in their life. I am not attached to that outcome, but who knows.
Finally, a nice side effect I noticed are the high levels of compassion I suddenly feel for their habits and rigidity. The moments that my energy of mindfulness embraced my judgments, annoyance, or frustration with my parents, those emotions gradually transformed into more understanding.
Not all the time, but step-by-step I noticed a gradual shift towards more kindness and less judgment. I always had a good connection with my parents, but it just became even stronger. And that in itself just makes me feel happier. And that’s what eventually a mindfulness practice is all about…..
With mindful regards,
Co-founder of TeamUp