By Atmabir Kaur
“Every child is born as karma to parents, but also every child is born as karma to himself or herself. There is a double action and mostly people forget this. One is the karma to parents; the other is the karma to the self. In between, a person has to develop, grow and become free.”
-Yogi Bhajan, Women’s Camp, 1977
It is believed in yogic and other Eastern traditions that children choose their parents—that it is part of the grand design. This is a pretty huge concept to grasp—the thought that our children are born to us as karma, ours and theirs. But is it good karma or bad, or perhaps a combination of both: a little good and a little non-resolution. Some families certainly seem to struggle more than others. I read somewhere that the more karmic debts we balance, the less likely we are to have children who come to our families because of negative karmic ties.
I love these words by Kahil Gibran from his book The Prophet:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday …”
As a mother of 2 growing sons, one who has plunged head first into his teenage years, the other approaching the gate, I try to remind myself of these words on a daily basis, and especially on those days when I feel like I am the operator of an uncontrollable family rollercoaster ride!
The concept of karma and the lessons we are meant to be paying attention to within the family often escape me as I just try to keep up with the day-to-day demands of parenting. All I can say is thank goodness for Kundalini Yoga!
But to bring this concept out of the ethers and down to the earth, I would like to share some insights into this challenge. There are days when my desire to mold my children into what I think they should be, or what I think they should be doing with their time, is overwhelming.
Welcome to World One. In this world I hover, I peek, I nudge, I investigate, I question. I am a nuisance. Can they even breathe? In this world I am the teacher, the disciplinarian, the judge, and when I have to be, the prosecutor. And the task master.
I am often accused by my oldest son of being a “helicopter parent”—always wanting to know everything and barely allowing them to figure out things on their own. This surely serves no one in the end. On these “helicopter” days, tensions always run high in the house:
“Take a breath Mom. Chill out. Aren’t you a yoga teacher?”
“Why so many questions? Don’t you trust me?”
“Does it matter that I didn’t do my homework (or deliver my papers or left my work at school or didn’t shower or didn't eat my lunch or didn't dress warmly enough or didn't practice piano or didn't do my reading or didn't eat my veggies or didn't empty the dishwasher or didn't take out the garbage or didn't turn into a saint overnight)?”
Okay, breathe. Land the chopper.
What are they saying? I stand back and hear, “Leave me alone. No, I am not doing any of those things I am “supposed” to be doing right now because I am doing other stuff. Maybe not stuff that seems important to you, but to me it is. I am doing other stuff and I am happy doing it. It’s not hurting or bothering anyone. The other things will get done eventually.”
“You have no right to tell the child what to do. The child has the right to know what is good and what is bad. If you teach the child good and bad, the child will never leave you. There’s no better student. You have never accepted a child as a God-given student. You accept the child as your possession. That’s your mistake.”
-Yogi Bhajan, 7/4/96
And you know what? When I do not hover, when I respect and trust my kids, often times they do get the stuff done, and definitely with a lot more peace and harmony in the house. I just wish that I could let go more. But I can’t. I am stuck between 2 worlds.
World Two is the world where I know it will all be okay; where I am able to stand back more and allow my boys to be my teacher; where I trust the karma that has brought us together. This is the world where I give them space, and time and lots of independence; the world where I pay attention to why these souls chose me as their mother and the karmic lessons we are meant to discover together.
And how can we honor this work? How can I nurture their spirit? We feel connected in this world; we practice Kirtan Kriya together. We laugh, a lot. This world feels so good even when the homework is not being done.
In both worlds I love them deeply and wholly. More than they may ever know. But in World One perhaps they do not feel my love as much? To them I am possibly too judgmental, too critical and too non-trusting of them, standing around just waiting for them to mess up, always with a job at hand, telling them they can do better, try harder (which to a child can often mean they are not good enough).
“We use our children for security. Then our children use us for security, and life is a mess. Give children their own security: Truth and the Infinite. It doesn’t matter if you have lied to yourself, or you have lied in your life, or that your parents lied to you. Just, for God’s sake, speak the truth for the sake of your children, so that they can understand that there is a truth. That is Sat Nam. Give them the true identity of themselves and you will have angels on the Earth.”
-Yogi Bhajan, 8/5-6, 1975
Parenting is the toughest, most challenging job on the planet. Why are there not “manuals” given out at birth? We wing it, day by day, hoping we are good enough parents, or that we have at least saved enough money for our kids therapy! Ha! But, it is also the most rewarding and heart-opening opportunity ever given to us in this life.
“Making the decision to have a child—it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
I love this quote. I often have to go look for my heart and it’s usually always nestled in next to my kids, all cozied up right there, where it should be. On those days, I know that they feel my love in my discipline as much as they feel it in my praise. On those days I have made the effort to honor them as they are, not as I think they should be. It feels amazing here in World Two. It is pure love. (And sometimes the dishwasher gets magically emptied too!)
I try to bring the teachings of Kundalini Yoga to my kids as much as I can, sharing mantra, pranayam, values and cat cows; encouraging them to be aware, to go within and listen; to always BE the truth; and always, above all else. to be free. One day soon they will be old enough to attend my adult classes at the studio. I hope they want to.
I think that as long as we remain open-hearted, human, awake and aware with our kids, regardless of what world we find ourselves in, and always showing constant kindness, compassion, respect, love and truth, these things will naturally bring our lessons, and theirs, forward.
“Our children are given to us as a gift and a spiritual trust. Parents have an incredibly important job. They are the first teachers. Whether a child grows up confident and strong, or mentally and emotionally handicapped, depends on those first teachers.”
-The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan: The Power of the Spoken Word
Victoria Lynes/Atmabir Kaur is an Internationally Certified KRI Kundalini Yoga Teacher, Level 2 Radiant Child Yoga Teacher, and IKYTA/YA Member. “When I discovered Kundalini Yoga several years back, I resonated instantly with this powerful and profound practice. Having a busy life and being a mother of 2 growing boys, I was astounded at how a sense of peace, neutrality and strength quickly permeated so seamlessly into my daily life with the regular practice of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation.” www.yourownpathyoga.com