/* /* Eclectic Contemplative: November 2008

Eclectic Contemplative

Driven by a need for a more reflective approach to existence, I am exploring contemplative thought from a variety of traditions, particularly Catholic and Buddhist, in an effort to find a practice that will enable me to access that "inner room" that is at once still and luminous.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Practicing with teenagers

Ken McLeod challenges practitioners to bring their lives into their practice rather than merely trying to bring their practice into their lives. But from what I can see, it's almost literally too big a stretch. I am lucky to bring attention to one aspect of my life these days as I deal with teen fallout.

Maybe I thought my relationship with my children would buy me a pass on all that teen angst and rebellion, but it hasn't. It's only made it more perplexing and painful because, at least at first, I took it personally.

So I meditate every day, trying to hold things in awareness without judging them. I try to be present to my children without, at least at first, thinking about how their actions are going to affect me (usually negatively these days). If I am not ready to address something, I try not to engage them about it.

But being the target of so much callous behavior makes it hard to do right by them. I don't "feel" like running them around to their activities when they've done their best to turn the house upside down, often over the real important issues like bedtime and chores. I think about their resistance to helping with the dinner dishes as I'm cleaning the dried on pizza, etc., from the plates and bowls left from their overnight snacking. The two things seem connected, and not in a way that flatters them. But I know, or think I know, that the only connection is one I impose.

Still. Things work best for me when they are sleeping in and my husband is at work. It's just me and the dog. Doing laundry is soothing with no one around to distract me before all the clothes are hung out, or before they're taken down at the end of the day. Making the dinner salad at 10 am is a fine use of my time when I'm alone, but onerous when someone is complaining in my ear, or jockeying for recreational commitments from me.

Better still is the part of the day when I get to go to sleep myself. Things happen when I'm asleep, but they usually hold till morning, so there is one span of time that I'm not "on duty", not expected to react to the most outrageous things with calm deliberation.

I no longer assume that my children and I will have a good relationship when they're grown. I thought I would miss them, but now I wonder...