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How well do you watch yourself?

An old Bhuddist fable

There was once a pair of acrobats. The teacher was a poor widower and the student was a young girl by the name of Meda. These acrobats performed each day on the streets in order to earn enough to eat.

Their act consisted of the teacher balancing a tall bamboo pole on his head while the little girl climbed slowly to the top. Once to the top, she remained there while the teacher walked along the ground.

Both performers had to maintain complete focus and balance in order to prevent any injury from occurring and to complete the performance. One day, the teacher said to the pupil:

‘Listen Meda, I will watch you and you watch me, so that we can help each other maintain concentration and balance and prevent an accident. Then we’ll surely earn enough to eat.’

But the little girl was wise, she answered, ‘Dear master, I think it would be better for each of us to watch ourself. To look after oneself means to look after both of us. That way I am sure we will avoid any accidents and earn enough to eat.’

I have recently had the pleasure of leading a lovely group of parents in a mindful parenting workshop. During this time I began reflecting on how we as parents can sometimes so intently watch what our little people are doing that we forget about watching ourselves…

We can easily get lost in the little things in life like, shirts being untucked, words that are said, hair that is a mess, shoes on the wrong feet, food that isn’t eaten, homework that’s not completed, etc… and we forget to watch ourselves – the words that we use, our tone, our ability to lead by example, our trust in others to do for themselves, our desire to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ and to ‘have fun’. When we focus on another and what they are doing, we loose sight of how we are ‘being’ in an interaction. We can easily become judgmental, have negative thoughts, feel worry, etc…

When we focus on ourselves first, with kindness and curiosity, we receive a myriad of gifts – bodily awareness, emotional awareness, awareness of our thoughts, a sense that we are ‘enough’, that we are ‘ok’, that we are ‘seen’, ‘valued’… Why? Because when we see ourselves, we give ourselves attention – which is really the only person we have ever wanted attention from (when it comes down to it). Give it a go and see what happens….

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