Karma, Dharma & The Yogic Path of Parenting

Navigating the complexities of parenthood is a journey laden with countless choices and umpteen challenges. This reflective piece by Sophie Malahieude delves into the ancient concepts of Karma and Dharma to offer a fresh perspective on raising children. The author argues that every action and intention in parenting has future consequences, making mindfulness key. By embracing Dharma—our inherent duty and purpose—we can raise children who are not just extensions of ourselves but also responsible citizens of the world. Drawing from personal experiences and Vedic wisdom, the article provides practical insights for modern parents striving for self-improvement and meaningful connections with their children.

This article is a part of the Yogic Parenting Project of the Vedic Management Center. More info here >>

Before there is a child, there are parents filled with love and the intention to bring a new life into this world. Is this new life a continuation of their love, an expression of it, a desire to see themselves in their child, or perhaps a twist of fate? Only parents can truly answer this question. There’s no judgment in their response, only understanding. A child who wasn’t conceived out of love is a child deserving of just as much love as any other.

Before we take on the role of parents, we are simply human beings shaped by our life experiences. These experiences can either guide us wisely or lead us astray. It’s at this point that our journey into Karma and Dharma begins.

So, what exactly is Karma?

Karma originates from two Sanskrit words: “Kri” meaning creation and “Mama” meaning conscious self. In essence, Karma represents our conscious actions in the present moment. Every action we take today will have consequences in the future, and those consequences also depend on the intent behind our actions.

This concept becomes particularly relevant as we step into the role of parents, as children learn more from observing our actions than from listening to our words. Our actions can be influenced by our past experiences, and this is where consciousness becomes crucial. Do we want to repeat past mistakes or patterns, or do we aspire to be more mindful and inspiring?

Allow me to share a personal experience: I remember my mother rushing us to school to ensure we weren’t late. I never questioned the hurry or her quick movements; everything seemed in order. It was only later, when I became a parent myself, that I realized the effort required to prepare my children and myself for the day, ensuring they had lunch and leaving the kitchen clean for the evening return.

Thankfully, my study of Yoga and Ayurveda came in handy. I decided to meditate on this situation, which was causing stress for both me and my children. I discovered that by waking up 20 minutes earlier, I could prepare myself before waking them up. This small adjustment made a significant difference, reducing stress levels for the entire family. We don’t have to repeat past mistakes; we can act with mindfulness and awareness of the consequences.

Moving deeper into the realm of parenthood, the concept of Dharma offers an inspiring path. Dharma is a somewhat elusive notion of living our lives in harmony for ourselves, with an eye toward the welfare of humanity and the universe. Dharma is not tied to any religion; it’s a way of life. Having a child is a Dharmic event. Our bodies provide space for consciousness to expand, and our own consciousness merges with that of our child. Becoming a parent is a selfless act; it’s a part of completeness.

That being said, sometimes our reasons for having a child may not be entirely clear; it might just seem like the “natural” thing to do after getting married. That’s okay—our personal growth aligns with our children’s growth.

If I had known 25 years ago what I know today, I wouldn’t be the same mother I am now. However, I have no regrets because I’ve grown just as much as my children have. As parents, we make mistakes, we feel lost, and we may doubt our abilities, but when our love for our children is genuine, our willingness to give our best knows no bounds. I always understood that one day they would spread their wings and leave our home. I welcomed my children as a gift from the universe, knowing that the universe might guide them elsewhere at some point in time. This surrender to unconditional love is the Dharma I’ve followed and shall continue to follow.

Applying these concepts of Karma and following our Dharma as parents in our modern lives isn’t as challenging as it may seem. It all begins with self-improvement, and the rest falls into place.

I learned to speak without using profanity, so my children didn’t adopt such language, at least at home. I knew they might use it with their friends, as I occasionally overheard them in the street, but at least they understood when and with whom it was acceptable. Not once did a teacher complain about their language.

I also learned the importance of keeping promises, a critical principle from Kootaneeti, an advanced part of Vedic teaching on leadership and management. This precept remains as relevant today as it did thousands of years ago. To build trust with our children, we must lead by example. Don’t make empty threats or promises you can’t keep. When our children can trust us, we can trust them, and harmony prevails.

As parents, it’s never too late to learn, understand, and grasp the concept of Karma so that we can serve as examples for future generations. We should also strive to live our Dharma, loosely translated as “our purpose in this life”, and inspire the youth by practising what we preach.

This article is a part of the Yogic Parenting Project of the Vedic Management Center. More info here >>

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