When confronting the need for discipline with our kids, we can look to spiritual traditions and teachings for inspiration.

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Photo: Ben Kerckx on Pixabay

“You can’t teach anyone anything without love, and without being happy with them.” ~ Adi Da Samraj, Spiritual Teacher, Writer, and Artist

As our children get older, the challenges of parenting morph beyond coping with sleep deprivation or figuring out how to navigate the 24-hour needs cycle. We are thrown into a world of questions such as what to do when one of the kids is acting out, or how to deal with conflicts on the playground. And what about when rules are broken? …


A poem on being present to receive life’s gifts, as well as let them go.

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Photo: Inspired Images on Pixabay

Sometimes life bestows a gift,
emerging mysteriously
from unknown origins.
Some are brief,
fleeting,
unexpected —
like wisps of song
through crack of open window.
Others:
made for the long road
to carry for a lifetime.

Whatever is true,
be there to receive
what is offered.
Participate.
Don’t ask why or how
or wonder about an end.

When this offering returns
to the source
from where it came,
let it go
gracefully.
No grasping.
Only cup your hands
in a gesture
of receiving
then letting go:
a gentle setting sail
back into the ether
of all things
beautiful.


A poem on being wide awake to witness life’s unfolding, now.

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Image: JPlenio on Pixabay

Be a witness
to each unfolding
wonder of present moment
now
and
now.

Participate in bliss:
being in body
and sound mind,
delighting in play
of light and darkness —
just present, here
uncluttered
shining
bright
awareness
(wide awake)
into each instant
and task.

How?
Practice.
Over and over,
practice.
Pause.
Breathe.
Smile.
Notice.

Seat yourself
as the witness
perspective
like eye of universe
from which to gaze.
We are at the center.

In this place,
respond by dissolving
into the present
moment.
Notice this,
then that.
Then, be what you notice.
Not separate
but rather loved to pieces:
where anywhere you are
is one with light
and open in all directions.


As parents, the pandemic has served up immense juggling obstacles, but also opportunities for fewer distractions and new habits.

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Image: Pixabay

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

As parents, the pandemic has served up a variety of challenges to overcome, while also gifting us with more time at home, and opportunities to reinvent how we spend our days. Pre-pandemic, I often mused on how to cut through the vast cultural noise in order to distill what is important. I wanted to create space for the things that mattered most. Could I find these things if I slowed down, lived a simpler…


A poem on what lies at the center after peeling away the layers.

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Photo: Ralu Michael from Pixabay

Sometimes, it takes a very long time
to peel the layers of an onion.
For some, a lifetime.
For others, years.
And still for others, each moment
is like living in the center:
a sweet and pungent core to make the eyes tear.

The truth here sears -
you cannot pretend you are anywhere else.
This center is like an exclamation point
serving up the most aromatic dish.

What you say here reaches
the deepest parts,
striking to the tongue
and unmistakable in its effect.


A poem on the quiet places of origin and germination inside ourselves.

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Photo: Pixabay

Deep in the belly,
you will find
origins of pain and joy
and the roots of all things
desiring germination.

Something curls around itself there
wrapped in immutable silence,
stripped bare under stars,
wishing to be one of those bright lights.

Here, wind —
or is it an ocean? —
is at the center,
the seed moment of the entire universe
always there,
not to be reached or found
only uncovered
by listening
to a quiet,
still sound.


A poem on waking up to the force of love.

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Photo: Jplenio on Pixabay

When everything is the Beloved,
you will find
something different:
a shift subtle but tectonic.
The entire daily conversation
presses you downward
more deeply
into reality
of present moment
by force of love.

Be flattened by this feeling
and see that even trees look different,
leaves shimmering like jewels in sunlight
a breeze lighting them up
eliciting a sparkle.

Some days,
this love is like laps of an ocean.
Others,
like soft ripple of lake
or water smoothing stone.
There are ebbs and flows.

All this is force of love,
rendering the open one overcome.
And still: there are holes —
like moon pulling tides
not emptiness to be filled
instead,
the space generated
inside by eternity
doing its slow work of expansion.


A poem on how motherhood shapes us.

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Photo: Cahypatia on Pixabay

A mother’s body:
shapeshifter,
giver of life,
bone shifter.
Doorway to the next generation
of family story,
her body a vessel,
she has become whole:
holy,
irrevocably marked.

When it is all said and done,
life having called her to another form
she will see that ‘perfect’ never mattered.
Her hips spread beyond convention.
Not dainty, spritely or light
but rather tunnel of life.

When she embraces
the new,
a mother’s feet and legs
sink deep in Earth,
heavy with responsibility,
weighted,
big.

A great gesture of presence
and ground:
she is so much more,
bigger than skinny
cultural convention
taking on the weight
of the most regal responsibility,
she has become vast with circle of Love.


In family life, love itself can become the container within which we live.

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Photo: Deborah McNamara (Dubois, Wyoming)

“Love does not arise, abide or dissolve in connection with any particular feeling. Love has instead become a container within which we live. Through time, riding mysterious waves of passion, aggression and ignorance, we begin to live within love itself. Each time we open up, extend ourselves, accept what is offered or step beyond our comfort zones, the structure is reinforced. And if you are looking for a crucible in which to heat compassion, marriage is a good one…” — From “I Do?” by Susan Piver

One day my mother handed me a piece of card stock paper with a…


A poem on paying attention and following your own true path.

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Photo: Jplenio on Pixabay

Noodle with this:
What wants to move
through the pages of this one life?

Listen to voices that speak beyond lifetimes.
Bring forth what is in the dream.
Precisely when something makes little sense
is when to take heed.

Let the analytic mind relax,
no need to turn each conundrum
over and over in mind’s eye.

Instead, abide
with what wants to be planted
without holding tight.
Leave some things be.

Let life serve as a holy altar,
bowing down
and be heart and blood bound
to your one true path.

Deborah McNamara

Sustainability & Climate Activist. Yoga Teacher. Author, Invitation of Motherhood: Uncovering the Spiritual Lessons of Parenting. More: www.debmcnamara.com

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