Meditation & Health #7 Contents

When I Let Go, Encouraging Words Flow

By Imelda Chandraatmadja

Imelda Chandraatmadja, Indonesia

Below is an excerpt from “Meditation Grandmaster JinBodhi Talks About Raising Children,” a teaching that appeared in the Summer/Autumn 2012 issue of Meditation & Health.

Interviewer: How can we nurture our children so that they become healthy and happy?

Master: First of all, respect them as independent individuals instead of regarding them as “dependents” that we can control. Even if your children are still small, you have to respect their individuality. For instance, when you ask your child to close the door, make sure to say “please” and “thank you.” When you talk to your little child, it is wise to kneel so that your head will be at the same height and you can look into each other’s eyes. By doing so, you make it easier for the child to communicate with you.

Secondly, we need to watch what we say. Some parents have an arrogant attitude toward children and often say threatening words to them, like “If you don’t do such-and-such, you won’t find a job in the future” or “If you don’t eat well, you won’t get strong,” and so forth. Some kids may take this pressure as motivation to do better; however, lots of kids will feel depressed about the future. It becomes a daunting prospect that they lose confidence in.

Grandmaster JinBodhi’s guidance has helped Imelda to radically shift her style of parenting. Read on for her story.

After the birth of my two sons 14 and 12 years ago, my life’s purpose was to be “a perfect mother with perfect children.” With that goal in mind, I pushed myself and my sons very hard. Always assuming the grass was greener on the other side, I would compare my children’s achievements with those of other kids. When I felt my boys underperformed, I would blame myself for having failed in my role as a good mother. Frequently, this blame game would extend to other members of the family and create unnecessary tensions between all of us. These tensions would eventually lead to harsh and negative labeling of certain family members.

When my children were younger, their behavior was easier to predict and control. I would equate their obedience with my success as a parent. But as Nature would have it, children grow up and speak their own minds. I could no longer have 100% control over them. Subsequently, I resorted to threatening and intimidation to get their obedience. “You must do this, otherwise you won’t be successful in life” or “You’d better do it or you’ll be in big trouble.” So my boys did things because they felt intimidated. I nagged and threatened so much that they labeled me “The Nagginator.” When my younger son was six years old, his bedtime question was: “What if I don’t grow up to become a successful person, what if I’m poor?” The image imprinted in his mind was that of a homeless person clad in rags, begging for food and money. His fear grew worse over time. At one point, he refused to go to school for a few months for no apparent reason.

Last year, when I attended a Bodhi Meditation and Fitness Retreat in Singapore, I encountered self-awareness for the first time. Looking back, all I see is a stubborn and disillusioned control freak who depended upon her children to be the source of pride, so much so that she lost the motherly instinct to provide unconditional love. I was remorseful for the many years of verbal abuse I had inflicted on my kids. Throughout the retreat, regrets kept surfacing along with many other realizations. I opened up my heart, learned to forgive and let go. I made a vow to change. At home, I gathered whatever courage remained in me and made peace with my pride. I sat my family down and apologized to my husband and my children for the many years of unkind words.

I was taken aback when my younger son flared up in the midst of my apology and said ”Mommy, do you remember four years ago when I didn’t want to go to school? It was because I was afraid you wouldn’t pick me up, that you would abandon me.” He told me he had overheard me saying to my husband, during one of my angry fits, “I’ve had enough! I give up on them!” My son had taken the words literally and thought I was going to leave them somewhere like in the story of Hansel and Gretel.

I was frozen with shame when I saw him crying. He had kept that pain inside for four years and with no one to turn to. I suddenly found myself so small and petty before this strong little boy –– a son I was supposed to protect. I could only apologize for all the hurt that I had caused him. I hugged him then, hoping to absorb away all his misery.

Now it has been six months since I began practicing The Meditation of Greater Illumination diligently. I’ve become a happier person and learned to let things take their own course. When things don’t turn out according to my expectations, I remind myself to speak positive and encouraging words anyway. My children and I now calmly sit down and analyze a situation rather than making snap judgements and pointing fingers at each other. My two sons have started to treat each other with more respect and have grown to be more sociable and courteous with others as well. My relationship with my whole family has drastically improved. I have learned to let go of my pride and obstinate character. Lately, I‘ve realized that encouraging words flow naturally from my heart.

With a happier state of mind, my health has benefited too. Previously I had to consume antihistamine regularly to control my allergic rhinitis, but I’ve now been off the medication for nearly six months. My urinary tract infections have not recurred. In addition, an issue with my knee that had prevented me from running and jumping has resolved. Thanks to Bagua, a walking meditation, my knee has grown younger.

Inside and out, I’ve been transformed!

Meditation & Health #7 Contents