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Parents and Children: Relationships Born from Love. Inspired By the Wisdom of Yoga

Parents and Children: Relationships Born from Love. Inspired By the Wisdom of Yoga

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Parents and Children: Relationships Born from Love. Inspired By the Wisdom of Yoga

255 pagine
3 ore
Jan 13, 2018


Parents and children will be inspired to develop a true love for each other with the wisdom of yoga shared in this text. In Parents and Children: Relationships Born from Love, you’ll learn meditation techniques to calm emotions, yoga postures that promote a healthier body, and ways people of all ages can use yoga to alleviate the harmful effects of a wide spectrum of physical and emotional conditions. “This is a clear, comprehensive, easy to understand and follow guidebook for creating happy, harmonious, loving family relationships. The book is written with such kindness and compassion, exactly the qualities the author hopes toawaken in her readers. This book could do immense good to help individuals and families find their way to the fulfillment of heart we all seek.” — Nayaswami Asha, spiritual director of Ananda Palo Alto, CA; teacher; counselor; author.
Jan 13, 2018

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Parents and Children - Anna V. Shapiro






Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.

Loretta Young,

It’s so simple. Love is when you want to grow old with someone.

- Erich Maria Remarque.

Arc de Triomphe

To love and to be loved is a natural feeling for everyone, but mostly it is very important for every child to feel loved. In our modern life the word Love is very popular, easily and widely used, and often repeated in different kinds of relationships and in different situations when people even do not love each other but may effortlessly and often say, I love you. The word love is very popular in movies, TV shows, as well as books, magazines, and newspapers.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the famous Zen master, said that Love is a beautiful word, and we have to restore its meaning [31]. When we say, I love hamburgers, we spoil the word. True love includes a sense of responsibility and accepting the other person as they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses. If you only like the best qualities of their personality, that is not love. You have to accept their weaknesses and bring your patience, understanding, and energy to the relationship to help them be strong and better. This kind of love brings protection and safety. What is the difference between I like you and I love you? Buddha answered beautifully: "When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily." One, who understands this, understands life.

What does it mean to love? Essentially, real love exists everywhere; its presence needs only to be realized. Typically, people think of love as romantic, as in Honey and Sweetheart. But romantic love is only a minor part of human life and relationships. David R. Hawkins [35], psychiatrist, spiritual teacher and lecturer, in his book Letting Go, The Pathway of Surrender, writes that there are many types of love other than personal and romantic that infuse our everyday experience: love of pets, love of family and friends, love of freedom, love of country, love of attributes, love of creation; love as virtue, love as forgiveness, love as acceptance, love as appreciation, love as kindness, love as the essence of a relationship, love as admiration, respect, valor and courage, love as friendship, and love as devotion.

Thich Nhat Hanh [31] writes: Each of us can learn the art of nourishing happiness and love. Everything needs food to live, even love. If we don’t know how to nourish our love, it withers. When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That is why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness.

When we have surrendered all of our resistances to love and let go of the negative feelings that block love, then the world is radiant with the splendor and glory of the real. On the level of love, this radiance is no longer hidden from us.

Once we become willing to offer love, the discovery quickly follows that we are surrounded by love and merely did not know how to access it. Our openness to the love always around us depends on the level of our consciousness, our spirituality, and our happiness [28]. Some people don’t feel love in their hearts but often speak about it. Such people have different meaning of love; love for them could be selfish, slavish, demanding, despotic, or wishing only for physical and sensational pleasure. For example, a person may expect that their partner must only make them happy, which is a demanding love. Such feelings would never fulfill a person, or bring them real happiness and joy.

When love is unconditional it fills your heart and soul with energy, joy and happiness [28, 31]. In contrast, the less real love you feel, the less energy you have in your heart, and the fewer options you have to resolve conflicts within you and without.

Some people think that self-love means to indulge their weaknesses and satisfy their physical and emotional desires. That is not what I mean by self-love. When we blame ourselves and think negatively about ourselves, our hearts and souls are not full of love. Yoga teaches us to love ourselves as we are and to become aware of our strengths and weaknesses, to accept our successes and failures, to regard ourselves with understanding and compassion. That is self-love.

Our relationship with ourselves affects everything in our life. It is so important to say: I love myself as I am. When you feel real love for yourself, this will change your life, this may help you to heal you from a traumatic childhood or low self-esteem. Self-esteem is essential in all aspects of our life including relationships in our families and especially with our children. When you learn to love yourself, you begin to take care of yourself on a much deeper level; when you really love yourself, your heart becomes open to people around you, you send love to them, and the world reflects more love back to you. It is a trust, a deep confidence in who you really are.

Love means understanding. If you do not understand another person’s problems and suffering, you cannot love states Thich Nhat Hanh. If people live only for pleasure and self-indulgence we should pray for them, because due to such selfishness, their inner development stagnates, bringing only unhappiness in the end. Generally speaking, most people will experience some pain, suffering, and detachment, which are a natural part of life. Personal change and spiritual growth are not possible without some suffering.

Real unconditional love means compassion, understanding, patience, kindness, inspiration, joy, and support for yourself and others [31]. Love is not worship, servility or dependence. One who loves is not a servant, but he or she is willing to sacrifice themselves to care, to forgive, and to defend the loved one’s interests.

The essence of loving-kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can’t offer happiness until you have experienced it yourself. You should learn how to practice conscious awareness in such away that you may create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person.

One of the elements of love is compassion. Compassion is the capacity to understand the suffering in you and in the other person. Understanding another’s suffering can bring relief and healing.

A small child with a loving father and mother sees himself as a whole and focuses on the feeling of love. There is an intertwined communing, a wordless sense of unity (S. Levine, 1987). In a family where the parents want to change each other, quarrel, and finally divorce, the child cannot perceive himself as a whole and suffers from that fragmented feeling.

Young people often have no idea that love has an active side of patience, care, friendship, and sacrifice as well as the more receptive side of stability, happiness and pleasure [37]. However, with a child, we need to speak in child’s love language by saying, I love you in the way he can understand. If your child knows that you love him, this will give him security and hope. Unconditional love is a full love that accepts and affirms a child for who he is, not for what he does (Gary Chapman, 2005).

Stephen Levine [27] wrote that when we speak of love, we are not speaking of the emotion called love, it is not the relationship of ‘I’ for ‘others.’ It is the sense of the inherent connection between the two that goes beyond duality to the oneness of being. When we speak of love, we are not speaking simply of a state of mind but rather of a state of our underlying essential quality. Love is not what we become but who we already are."

Love based on power defines the way we relate to each other and dictates whether you get listened to. Power love determines whether your needs take priority or get any attention at all. Such love reduces sensitivity to a partner or a child and prevents ability for emotional connection. Although many people associate power with manipulation, pressure, and cruelty, contemporary psychologists and philosophers have forged a new power pattern: they view power as the capacity of an individual to influence others’ states, even to advance the goals of others, while developing their full self. This person has the ability to unite his soul with the soul of others to bring about very profound positive change.

Psychological researches [36] show that if you were happy when you were single, you are more likely to be happy in your marriage and other relationships. The expressions of love will make focus on sharing your love instead of demanding happiness.

I give an example from my own life to show how power love experienced in my childhood deeply influenced my adult life. From my earliest childhood I had a negative and complicated attitude towards myself and as a result, when I became an adult I continued to suffer from an inferiority complex: I did not love myself, was dissatisfied with my appearance, thought that I was unattractive, and suffered from a constant lack of confidence.

All these negative feelings about myself developed gradually over the course of many years. My grandmother had raised me until I was 21. She was the most significant influence in the development of poor self-image and negative relationship with myself. My grandmother told me often that she loved me the most of her seven grandchildren, but as I understand now her love was demanding and overpowering. My grandmother could be verbally abusive, saying things like You are ugly, or Do not laugh, you have big teeth, or Shut up and do not speak because it is unpleasant to listen to you, and other admonitions of this nature. Everything that she told me was negative. All these negativites were deeply imprinted into my subconscious. But I was very attached to grandma and loved her very much, so I believed her and felt that she was right, I felt that I was awful. When I was around 20 years old, I wanted to study psychology because I wanted to understand why I felt so badly about myself and hoped to help free myself from these inferior feelings.

When I was 27 I got married and lived with my family separately from my grandmother. During that period I began to study and practice yoga, which helped me to see relationship more clearly, and better understand of the meaning of real love. Once I visited my grandmother and asked her why she had always told me such bad things about myself and humiliated me so much: Was I such a horrible, ugly girl in childhood? Grandma told me smiling that actually I had been a beautiful girl with red hair, big green eyes, and with a pleasant expression on my gentle face; she added that I also was smart, and very kind to her: I was afraid you would become arrogant and wanted you to grow up as a modest girl.

After years of studyng psychology and practicing yoga, I have realized that in my childhood I had to experience serious life lessons. After many years of meditation, affirmations and praying (described in Part II) I have learned to love and to accept myself as I am, and now I would like to share this love with others. I have learned how to be a good, conscious parent for my own child; it was important that I educate and bring my daughter up thoughtfully, as she was sensitive and shy in her childhood. I realized that real love consists of great patience, kindness, awareness; acceptance as such is required in bringing up a child. It is important to talk with your child about her problems without humiliating her.

Masters of yoga, Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda [5, 25, 28,], believe that real love is divine and unconditional. Within each person, deep in his subconscious, memories of childhood relationships with his parents - how much he and they loved and understood each other - are saved and accumulated.

A little child is open to the world, he is curious, loves sincerely and unconditionally, and he wants to be loved. The child accepts his parents’ love easily and openly with boundless confidence, while at the same time, being very vulnerable and sensitive to the world around him. This little innocent person naturally experiences himself to be the center of the world; everything around him belongs to him, and intuitively he feels completely protected by his parents.

Love is the foundation of life [37]. In raising kids, everything depends on the love relationship between parents and their children. Nothing works well if a child’s love needs are not met. Love, of course, should be of a particular kind that will enable our children to grow and function properly. Such love must be unconditional, accepting and affirming a child for who he is, not for what he does. No matter what he does (or does not do), the parents should still love him.

Some parents offer their love as conditional and they consider that their love is real. Sadly, conditional love is based on performance and is often associated with training techniques that offer gifts, rewards, and privileges to children who behave or perform in desired ways. The focus should be on what the child needs, not just what the parent wants to provide, as this is often an ego decision. Only unconditional love can prevent feelings such as resentment, guilt, fear, and insecurity, from coming up later in the life of the child.

It is very important to learn to love yourself first. Real self-love means loving and accepting yourself completely and unconditionally for all that you are, including your flaws and imperfections. It means being the real you without putting your ego up front. Your ego consists of the masks and patterns you have created throughout your life. But your ego is not who you really are. Your ego is like a character in a play that you have written and that you direct. You may gently ask the ego to step away from the stage so you can show a real you to yourself and to the people around.

Nobody can ever make you happy except yourself, no matter what others may do for you. Asha Praver [4], Master of yoga and lecturer, says: "The ego defines love as that which is most pleasurable. Applied to romantic love, this means two people stay together as long as it makes them happy. Each freely follows his or her heart, where it leads.

The error here is that freedom is not of the ego. It’s of the soul. No matter how much we indulge the ego’s desires, they will never give us the fulfillment we seek. It is not the way we are made. The ego is the opposite of freedom. To rise to this level takes practice. Love is the creator of your world. Love is who you are (Kriyananda, 1997)

Egoism comes from fear [17]. Egoism is putting you first from a state of fear. Egoism is created by deficiency, scarcity and insufficiency of unconditional love. An egoist might have experienced a lack of love when he was a child, and feels now that he needs to catch up on love, so he focuses on this need. Egoistic love fears to share the other’s love because the egoist is afraid that there will be not enough love left for him. It is another form of selfishness, demanding a large piece of cake without caring that there are others who may deserve some as well.

True self-love or contentment is staring into the sunset with no one around and feeling perfectly happy. When you really love and accept yourself for who you are, your love and happiness are abundant. You are overflowing with these feelings and thus have enough to share with others. You are fulfilled in yourself, and feeling infinite love and happiness, you just naturally give of these feelings to those around you. Accepting yourself for all that you are - is self-love.

The more egoistic you are, the less possibility there is for you to experience real love! Egoism becomes the basic force behind every social interaction. It determines whether your needs take priority or get any attention at all. Power starts to define the way you relate to the other, power dictates whether you get listen to. Despotic love is when a person is acting or ruling as a despot and is cruel, possessive and abusive, wielding unlimited power. Such unmindful authority diminishes the ability for healthy emotional communication with others, a flow of interpersonal energy which every human being craves and needs.

I want to take a minute to look at the modern view of power, which is defined as an individual’s capacity to influence others, even while he is developing his full self. Hara Estroff Marano in Psychology today, suggests this so-called power is based on the relationship of mother and child, beginning with the conception of the child. Attempts to separate the two beings and their interests are, initially, impossible. Their power is indeed interconnected. However, it is helpful for a mother, and important for us, to understand that such power based love originates in the desire to preserve, to protect and to educate her child. And, if she does nothing to change her self, the power part of that kind of love takes over in the mother’s parenting approach and becomes domineering, which in turn, could be devastating for the child’s healthy emotional development.

Loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity [31] are described as unlimited states of mind because they continue to grow. The more you practice these abilities, the

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