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Parenting - a Spiritual Practice

I was preparing brunch for some friends and had traded church for two hours alone to prepare for our guests. As I sliced and diced I tuned into Krista Tippet’s Program On Being (American Public Radio, airing on Sundays on WUKY).   Her guest that day was the fascinating Jon Kabat-Zinn who was speaking on The Science of Mindfulness .

I have always longed to be more mindful. I know it is better for me, my mind, my soul, my body, my being. But this was not what Kabat-Zinn said that spoke so intensely to me. Rather it was a comment he made in response to Tippet’s observation that while mindfulness and enlightenment is great, we cannot – as breadwinners and parents - all go off and live in monasteries.

Zinn’s response was the zinger for me: monastic life might be one form of mindfulness practice but parenting is the most spiritual practice one can be engaged in.

I saw myself sitting with my children, feeding them, rocking them, reading to them, lying with them in the quiet of the night listening for the evenness of their breathing telling me they were asleep. And I saw the mindfulness of these practices. And the intense spiritualness of them. 

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