I am not a Buddhist nor do I meditate on a regular basis. What little I have come to understand about Zen as a practice relates to the cultivation of our capacity to be here, now; our ability to be present to our experience without judgment.
Almost two decades after nursing (literally and figuratively) my boys through the first year of their lives, I realize the enormity of the gift they gave me. My children were my Zen masters.
Every piercing cry said, “Here. Now”
Every time I held my baby my fingers tingled with the sensation of his soft body.
I was aware of the slant of the sun as it came through the window and could feel the subtly shifting temperatures in the room.
In my sleep deprived haze my mind was barely capable of being “busy”.
It is hard to estimate the hours I spent simply watching my babies’ angelic faces as they slept.
Middle-of-the-night feedings were occasions for hearing every small sound and seeing shades of darkness.
The passage of time felt different.
My baby was never “wrong”.
My task was to meet him where he was and to puzzle out what he was aware of that I needed to learn to become aware of too.
There was only ever one thing in front of me to do.
The days of our children’s’ infancy fly by. And while for me they are in the distant past, I find it takes but a few minutes of quiet to re-experience the quality of that time. It is an everlasting gift. They taught me that I am capable of this kind of focus and attention on what is before me. Their presence in my life today continues to remind me of the gift I can give back to them if I can be here now with them.