From Monkhood to Fatherhood
Around age 14, I started practicing yoga and meditation. When I was 16, I became a Hindu monk, and I have been wholeheartedly devoted to this path of yoga for 10 years.
During those years of intense practice of meditation, yoga and service, I gave my whole trust to my Guru. I believed in him, drank eagerly from his wisdom and followed his every word religiously. After 10 years of trusting someone else, I finally learnt to truly trust myself and I left the Ashram (yoga monastery) when I was 26. However, the patterns of mental and behavioral grooves that this practice created within me are deep. And now, 12 years after leaving the Ashram, sharing the knowledge I found there is my passion, and wonderfully, my livelihood.
Being a monk was easy for me. I only needed to focus on one thing at a time, I had a lot of time to introspect and figure out where I stand in this world, and with all of the intensity of the practice I did not have any worries about anything to carry.
But now, things are quite different.
Now I am married to a beautiful and passionate woman, I have 4 children, I have just bought a house, and have a very fast growing yoga business.
Wow - life is busy! Time to go within is scarce and being able to do one thing at a time is almost impossible. I am challenged, to say the least.
Though I love circus arts, and juggling is something that I like experimenting with., 24/7 life juggling is what I do now! I work to make it all flow seamlessly, without thinking about it too much.
Now, as when all of the balls of life are in the air, I find the following yogic principles helpful:
I try to maintain my values above everything else. Family life is insane; to remain afloat amidst this storm you need to keep looking up to the moral principles that you are not willing to compromise on.
In our family, this is Ahimsa, non-violence. So regardless of what happens, we keep striving to communicate and act in a non-violent way. Starting from what we eat (we are all vegan), all the way to how we treat our toys, plants, and of course other people.
I need lots of this… After 10 years of being a monk I thought I had conquered anger. Well, no one in the Ashram knew how to get to me as well as my kids do!
Breathing helps us to not be reactive and explosive. Rather, pausing to take a deep breath helps us to respond to situations and people in ways that create positive effects.
3. Be flexible
We all come to our marriages and our family lives with baggage. We have learned some things about the world before we got together, and some of those things apply to this new situation, while some don’t.
A lot of the things that I’ve learned as a monk do not apply very well to family life. Sometimes, the knowledge and tools I acquired in the past handicap me now. Expectations, of myself or others, which were relevant in the past can simply make me disappointed now.
I find that I need to keep reinventing myself to be happy and make others happy, and most importantly, not get stuck in patterns and take things lightly.
Don’t try to control it all; you can’t anyway.
I try to do my best; I fail sometimes. I impart my knowledge and life experience to my children; some of it goes deep within them to shape them into amazing creative and compassionate people, while some other details (like putting away your things!) seems like they will never sink in.
In all of this, despite minor challenges and setbacks, I trust that they will grow to be beautiful people that will make this world a better place.
5. Keep striving to make yourself a better person
Children learn not so much from words, but from observing our behavior, so being the best person we can be helps them to be their best, whole and beautiful selves too.
Amidst all of the commotion, confusion, noise and chaos of the family, I try to remember that I am still my own person and that I have a duty to myself to continue and evolve.
It is easy to get caught up in life’s business, and it is important to step back once in a while to practice introspection and reflection to learn something new from your reality, and then come back to the family with a renewed attitude of inspiration to give and be truly present.