LentBooks #11: Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, by Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn

This book was recommended to me by my friend Christine, who always seems to be me to be an amazingly mindful and “together” parent, so of course I wanted to read it. It applies the same principles you would find in Zen Buddhist meditation practice to parenting. Given my interest in how I as a non-Buddhist can apply principles like mindfulness to my everyday life — and given how much of my everyday life is consumed with parenting — this seemed like a great fit.

It was a good fit, although the book was not as practical and specific as I’d hoped it would be (there is a good section in the back on exercises and intentions for mindful parenting, which was the most practical part). Mostly it’s theoretical and reflective, interspersed with illustrations drawn from the authors’ real-life experiences parenting their own children.

If there’s one gift I would like to have in my parenting it is definitely mindfulness — being more aware and still in the present moment, rather than rushing ahead to the next. Working with the situation as it is right now, rather than what I wish it was, or think it should be. This book did not provide me with a blueprint for how to do that — there probably isn’t one, sadly — but it did provide me with some thoughtful reflections to help me pursue those goals for myself. The authors’ personal experiences are helpful simply because, for such new age zen-type people, they seem to be very ordinary, fallible parents with very ordinary, annoying kids — so that was encouraging to me as I stumble through my ordinary, fallible life.

My LentBooks reading series kind of ground to a halt with the trip to Australia, so this turned out to be the last LentBook for 2008 — a nice way of wrapping up some of the thinking I’d been doing about what I can learn from other religious traditions that might be relevant and applicable to my Christian life today.

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1 Comment

Filed under LentBooks, Nonfiction -- general

One response to “LentBooks #11: Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, by Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn

  1. “Amazingly mindful and together”? Wow. Thanks, Trudy. Mindful and together is exactly the type of parent I am striving to be, so the fact that I am coming across that way (even though I don’t always feel that I succeed) must mean I am doing something right.

    Personally, I’m envious of how you and J organize your family life, how you always seem to be doing fun things together, playing games, travelling, going on outings, doing things at church. I want to be you when my kids grow up. 🙂

    I’m glad you liked the book for what it is. I think the reason that it wasn’t more practical (I had been hoping for that too, initially) is that mindfulness is so intangible and happens differently for everyone, moment to moment, so a guideline is difficult to figure out.

    In some of my meditation reading I came across a reminder that we call these things (meditation, yoga, mindfulness) practice, because we need to work at them all the time, from where we are at that moment. And that our minds will interrupt us because coming up with thoughts is our mind’s job, and our best practice comes from dragging our minds back to the task at hand, to our breathing, to whatever. It really made me feel better about how hard it can be to do these things sometimes.

    Oh, and I also liked how ordinary the authors were too. I sort of expected them to be all blissed out, but they were just people and that was great.

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