Friday, June 22, 2007

Buddhism for Mothers

"If you want to know what your future life will be like, look at your life right now."

I finally finished reading Buddhism for Mothers. Yay me! It was a really profound book and I hope I can implement some of the ideas into my daily life--one thing that struck me is that I really think I am looking for something that will just *click* and I will magically be able to behave/think in a new way. This book really hit home for me that you have to have a *practice*--your attitudes or habitual ways of responding do not change overnight, practice is so important (i.e. not a "quick fix," but like years of work and consideration!) The quote above reminds me of something that I remind myself of almost daily: your thoughts create your reality. We create our own suffering.

Reading this book also helped me remember to look at some of the assumptions that underlie my day to day life (and how they cause my own suffering, LOL!) Like, "I should always feel good." "I should never get upset." "I should never get mad." "I should always be unflappable and calm." "I should always be totally patient." Typing these out looks totally ridiculous and very obviously in error/unrealistic, but those are still some of the "tapes" that play in my brain if I actually watch myself thinking instead of just hopping on the thought train. In another book I'm currently reading, the author has a concept of a "baseboard" (of emotional response) that you "plug into" whenever something bothers you during the day. This is SO true too. I'm starting to watch myself "plug in" to the baseboard and my baseboard reaction is usually to be overly black and white about issues or to catastrophize about fairly small things--such as, XYZ happened, that means I'm a bad person...

Anyway, good stuff. If I stopped reading so many books, maybe I could actually go back and re-read some of this stuff that seems so helpful and actually GET it, instead of hopping merrily along to the next book in my pile! ;-) In the last couple of months, I've developed a new habit of reading multiple books at once. I NEVER used to do this before and didn't understand how anyone could. It just seemed ADHDish to me--like *focus* on something and finish it! However, I have found that I enjoy going from book to book as the mood strikes me and finishing them when I'm ready, instead of doggedly sticking with something to the bitter end, because I am trying to follow the "rules" of being a good book-reader, LOL! I think I'm better able to absorb the good stuff from books when I take a break from one for a while and read something fresh and then return to the previous book when I'm in the mood for it again. I have four in progress right now. This book took me the longest to finish of any book I've read all year, I think.

Okay, so back to the book. I thought the final half seemed mostly about meditation and how to practice, not specifically about motherhood and Buddhism (which is why I bought the book!) It was good, but I could get Buddhist philosophy and meditation ideas from many other books. I wanted this one specifically for the fairly unique combination of mothering AND Buddhism. The first half met that need a little more. I appreciate that the author has two children and also a non-Buddhist husband--makes her suggestions seem so real and reality based, instead of a totally remote monk-life-in-a-cave ;-)

I may or may not share more later. This entry has become too long as it is!

Oh, one final note. I do not consider myself to be Buddhist, just for the record. However, I feel I can learn a lot from the philosophy and ideas (as other authors have noted, Buddhism is not a religion, it is a way of looking at the world/life). I have another book called Buddhism Without Beliefs that I'm really excited to read (I'm interested in ideas without the religious underpinnings of some books).

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