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#3853 - Friday, April 2, 2010 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights  

 


 

The following was published in the Halifax Shambhala Banner Newsletter, April 2010: 

http://www.halifax.shambhala.org/banner_10/banner_april2010.pdf 

On applying mindfulness practices to the care and maintenance of toddlers   

by Dustin LindenSmith   

I’ve been a full-time, stay-at-home dad since 2004; first with our
daughter who’s seven, and now with our two sons, 2 and 3 years 
old. With both of our boys now firmly in the terrible twos, I’ve 
found myself questioning if I’m destined to keep any shred of my 
sanity by the time they reach school age.   

Many toddlers require  nearly constant supervision. They’re quick
to shun their basement  playroom full of safe toys, games, puzzles
and train sets, choosing instead to empty the kitchen cupboards
and drawers of the most breakable and delicate contents; to
relieve the filing  cabinet of its most important papers; or to
raid their sister’s doll house and toy chest of her most prized
treasures.   

Child-proof drawer and cabinet locks no longer pose a challenge. 
Even our upper cupboards are accessible now they’ve discovered 
how to use the lower drawers as stairs to reach counter height. 
Cooking raises distinct challenges; I’m constantly on the watch 
to avoid potential cuts or burns arising from their sudden, 
unexpected appearance at the cutting board or stovetop. As 
beautiful and inquisitive as they can often be, they’re also 
indefatigable and incorrigible; nearly all of our verbal 
instructions to them are ignored as a matter of course. My wife 
and I refer to them not infrequently as our pair of Tasmanian 
Devils.   

It is exactly these qualities which remind me that rearing 
children can be a most fruitful spiritual practice. I realize 
that the greatest frustrations in my day-to-day life arise from 
my children not acting according to my expectations. Even when my 
expectations are reasonable -- say, not climbing directly onto 
our gas-fired stovetop to investigate the contents of a boiling 
pot -- these boys still manage to dash them just by acting upon 
their utterly normal, curious impulses. When they erupt in a 
screaming tantrum because I’ve yanked them away from the computer 
keyboard which they’ve just decorated with a permanent marker, I 
have come to understand that their angry outbursts are a natural 
response to what they perceive as an unwanted and abrupt halt 
called to their ordinary investigations of the world around them. 
In their minds, I am the one with a problem -- not them.   

Meditation and mindfulness practices help us to train our minds to
accept our lives just as they are in this moment; even the stuff 
that apparently drives us crazy. The wisdom of extremely young 
children is that they always live inherently in the present 
moment, never concerning themselves with what happened an hour 
ago or what might happen an hour from now. Whenever I 
successfully align my own expectations with that kind of time 
frame, I find myself instantly living more harmoniously with my 
sons.   

I turn my attention regularly to my breath and on bringing my 
awareness back into the moment. I can imagine what it must feel 
like to be them: to be surrounded by giants who have complete 
control over their every move; to be forcibly removed from the 
only activities and places they haven’t yet fully explored; and 
to have little or no language skills with which to express their 
true desires at any given moment. When these glimpses of 
realization occur, the compassion I feel for them stops me in my 
tracks. It makes me squat down to their level to find out what 
they really want at that moment. It makes me realize that I can 
hold off on washing these dishes for a few minutes to play a 
short game with them. It reminds me that I can even let them help 
me measure out the ingredients for that night’s meal, accepting 
that I’ll need to do more clean-up than usual after the fact.   

In short, I need to suspend my own expectations for the way I 
think things should be, replacing them with acceptance for the 
way things are. It’s a profound spiritual teaching, and I didn’t 
even need to go on retreat to learn it. I just happened to pick 
it up in my own kitchen from my very own toddler gurus.   

  

Dustin LindenSmith is originally a jazz tenor saxophonist by
trade, but he also worked as a market research consultant and an
IT project manager  throughout his 20s and early 30s. Born in
Regina and raised in Calgary, he studied music at McGill
University
and settled happily in Halifax with his wife in 1996.
He has been a student of yoga and Eastern meditation for 15 
years.   

Dustin partnered with Jerry Katz to bring nonduality to "the
people" prior to the advent of Nonduality Salon and the Nonduality
Highlights.

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