Positive Flow Parenting
by Lawrence Vijay Girard
Chapter 1 – The Adventure of a Lifetime
There is nothing in life quite like the thrill that flows through body, mind and spirit when you first see and hold your newborn child. Months, possibly even years of effort have culminated in this miraculous moment. A soul from beyond the portals of this world has come to share the adventure of life with you. It is a new beginning, a fresh start, an opportunity for both parent and child to reach forward towards the fulfillment of life’s purpose.
When my twin daughter and son were born I was bursting with the exaltation of the moment. I was completely overflowing with the joy of their physical presence and the added good fortune of having a boy and a girl in one fell swoop! Yet, as I look back at that time I realize that so much energy had been put into the birth of the twins that I had never thought much about parenting. The fact that I was going to be a father had never translated in my mind to me being a parent.
What qualifications did I have to be a parent? Are we all imbued with natural instincts for raising our young like animals in the wild? How is it that I could have gone through so many years of school as preparation for entering society and the workplace and I had never once talked to anyone about what it would be like to be a parent and raise a child? Was I supposed to raise my children the way my parents raised me? If so, how did they raise me? Did they follow some kind of plan? How did they make decisions about what to do in any given situation?
In a close family parents and grandparents can help guide new parents. But in our society today we aren’t guaranteed that others will be around to help us. And besides, does the fact that a person has been a parent automatically mean that they are good at it? Common sense tells us no.
Consider the millions of people that drive cars on the roads each day. Experience tells us that some drivers are better than others. At least all drivers take a test to prove a basic understanding of the skills necessary to drive safely. Compared to the complexities of parenting driving is a piece of cake. How is it that we can expect ourselves to be good parents with no training?
I am not suggesting that everyone should take a test before being allowed to be a parent. But it does make sense that we shouldn’t leave such an important subject to chance. Taking the time to prepare ourselves for success in any life endeavor would be considered a wise action. Let’s take the time now to consciously explore the realm of parenting.
It is the most natural thing in the world for a new parent to think: What do I do in this situation? What do I do in that situation? The western mind would be very happy if given a long list of do’s and don’ts to memorize. We can’t help thinking that if we read enough books or go to enough classes we will be educated well enough to do a good job. There are many good books on parenting that try to help people from this point of view. I am going to share with you a different approach.
Positive Flow Parenting is about growing beyond lists and the opinions of others – including my own. It is discovering from your own direct experience a way to face all of your life challenges: including those pertaining to parenting. The greatest truths in life are not found outside of our selves, but can be discovered within the heart of each person’s own being. We are going to explore an inner source of creative wisdom that will be able to guide us at every step of the way.
Not long after the birth of the twins I was taking one of them – I won’t say which – to the counter for our first experience in diaper changing. I felt confident. Earlier I had laughed about what it would be like. Now there was a living, breathing child in my hands, wholly dependent on me. I moved carefully. As I lifted my little one onto a fresh diaper I was met with an inevitable, yet shocking experience: unwanted bodily wastes began to issue forth. To my horror, when I realized what was happening I had to fight the urge to let go while the blessed one was still being held up in the air!
Thus from day one, parenting is fraught with the unexpected. And when we consider the countless ways that life will challenge us, not only physically but intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, parenting does seem a daunting task. It is a little like trying to assemble something that you have brought home in a box that says: Detailed instructions included. Only for some reason we can’t find the instructions, so we have to figure it out for ourselves.
Let’s think about this for a minute. What if there was a universal manual for raising children? What would it be like? It would certainly need to be printed in every language of the world. It would have to include detailed instructions on every mental, physical and spiritual factor as they applied to each individual person in any given situation. Of course that would make it pretty thick! It might take a whole lifetime just to read it. To say nothing of how big and heavy it would be! And what about people who can’t read?
No, a manual is not the answer. How about interactive video? No, too technical. And besides, this system would have had to be put in place before video was invented. God must have thought this out. It has to work for everyone, everywhere. It needs to be portable so you can have it on site at all times. It must be individual so that it provides guidance for each and every person. It would need to be flexible, so that changes in circumstances could be taken into consideration.
Does this seem like idle thought? Worthy of a good laugh before heading back to the real world?
Let’s look at nature for a moment. The planet earth is spinning through space balanced just between racing off into the galaxy and crashing into the sun. On the surface millions of species of plant and animal life are interacting in a delicate balance with each other. Each day untold numbers of species are born into this world while others are forever lost. Many people think that this world is just matter, physical, what you see is what you get. Yet it has been scientifically proven that underneath matter, activating our world, is energy. Some scientists are now saying that guiding this underlying universal energy is universal consciousness. That might seem like a new and fantastic idea to some people, but as it happens, our scientists are only now discovering the underlying components of life that have been known by the sages of India for thousands of years.
What, you might ask, does this have to do with parenting? Let me share with you the most amazing thing. The Creator of life did provide instructions, not only for parenting, but for the basis of how to live life itself, of which parenting is just a part. It isn’t a book that you have to read and memorize each day or year as updated versions come out. Yet, it is always up to date and correct for each and every moment of our lives no matter what is happening. It is available to each and every one of us at no charge.
But, there is one little catch.
You see, as a practical matter, if God was to broadcast out loud instructions to everyone there would be such a horrible noise that no one would be able to understand anything. If you did hear some particular instructions, how would you know they were for you and not your neighbor?
What about those people who don’t want to know what God has to say? Should it be shouted out anyway? What about those who don’t believe in God?
There are certainly many reasons why the Creation is set up the way that it is. No matter what those reasons might be, the end result is that we have to want to hear what God has to say to us. It is God’s nature never to impose on us, otherwise we would be automatons. So we must activate our ability to hear His/Her guidance for us by learning to attune ourselves like a radio receiver to the guidance that is always available to us.
Why can’t we hear it all of the time? Because it isn’t outside: It is inside. We live in a world that convinces us that understanding about life comes from the outside. It is like we all come from Missouri, the “show me” state. We believe that something is real only if we can experience it through our senses. As long as we are busy looking outside ourselves through the senses, we will only capture glimpses of our Creator who remains hidden in the beauties of the sunset, the power of a hurricane, the scent of the gardenia or the loving embrace of mother and child.
The really exciting news is that if we turn within we can perceive through direct intuitive perception God’s loving presence and guidance. This inner relationship is the source for finding the solution to all life challenges: including parenting.
“All right,” some will ask, “What religion is this?”
Let me be absolutely clear. This is not about religion. It isn’t about this church or that temple. It is not about what God’s correct name is. It isn’t about dogmas or affiliations of any kind. You don’t have to take anyone’s word for anything. You don’t even have to believe in religion or God. It is about your own direct personal perception of a truth that you can consciously connect to within your own self.
If we want to increase our chances of being good parents we need to root our understanding of how to achieve that goal on the broadest possible realities. Many people rely on their own experience of growing up for basic parenting guidelines. To that they add cultural or religious traditions. Social and economic conditions will also play a part in how things go. Why not add to the possibilities by seeking to align our efforts with the central truths that make life itself? Life is like a flowing river. We can wander by the rocks in little whirlpools of separateness or we can enter the mainstream, a positive flow of divine wisdom, love and joy.
Much has been written through the centuries about the spiritual nature of life, its true reality as a manifestation of Divine Consciousness and that each of us must choose a path in life that will lead us closer to or farther from a growing awareness of Spirit. Some people conclude from all of the various descriptions that no one can agree on what is going on! But if you look closely at the writings of those who have personally realized the truth of their relationship with God, the saints of all religions, you will find an incredible similarity no matter what country, language or time.
The most basic of the discoveries that saints have made is that God does exist. And that the purpose of life is that we should grow in our own awareness of that truth. As if that weren’t enough, the saints add that each one of us as a soul, is a part of God. We are not separate, but a part of the whole. The only reason we aren’t aware of our oneness with God is that we have let ourselves identify more with the outward Creation through the senses and emotions than with the inner realities of the soul. They then say that the spiritual path is simply the process of remembering what we truly are: Spirit.
What is God? Everyone pretty much agrees that you can’t describe infinity, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc. Poets of every age have tried to capture in words, glimpses of the Divine. Some of the clearest descriptions of God come from India. God is described as: Satchidananda ever existing, ever conscious, ever new joy. The great yoga master Paramhansa Yogananda spoke of the experience of oneness with God in his poem Samadhi. He describes the complete union with Spirit as “enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy.”
This description reminds us that our limited minds cannot grasp the incredible scope of God and the Creation. What we need to do is expand beyond the confines of the mind and let ourselves experience depths of joy and understanding that we instinctively know as souls must be there, but have heretofore alluded us. The thing that we need to keep in mind is that this expanding process happens on the inside, not the outside.
We each have, in the very way that we are made, a connection to Infinite Spirit within us. Through our inner connection to Spirit we will find the guidance that we need in order to creatively address every challenge of life and parenting. Spirit is the source of all happiness. Spirit is the central solution to all situations. Living in and with Spirit is the heart of Positive Flow Parenting.
In order to understand how we can use our connection to Spirit as a source for our efforts in life and parenting, it will help if we have a feel for how the Creation is made and where we, as souls, fit in to the big picture. The cosmology of Spirit is certainly a larger subject than we can cover here, so I am going to share a very brief overview. Keep in mind that while you don’t have to agree with this view of the way life is made in order to benefit from the Positive Flow Parenting approach, these ideas will help you to see how we are trying to align ourselves with the way life is made.
God, or Infinite Spirit, is an infinite consciousness of joy, peace and love that exists beyond the Creation. When God decided to make the Creation it was from this ocean of consciousness that all life sprang forth. The Creation was manifest in three overarching stages: the Causal Plane, the Astral Plane and the Physical Plane. These three layers of the Creation are superimposed upon one another. The key to understanding how the Creation fits together is to understand that Spirit is: Center everywhere, circumference nowhere. So life springs forth from literally….everywhere.
The Creation is at its root an ocean of consciousness or ideas. This is the causal universe. The focusing of infinite consciousness into the specific ideas that form the Creation as seemingly separate from Infinite Spirit is where the soul, individualized spirit, is created. The soul is a part of Infinite Spirit that has limited its awareness to the Creation. It is like a wave on the sea that thinks of itself as a wave – limiting its awareness – rather than being identified with the whole ocean as its reality.
Cloaking these ideas of limitation is the next stage of the Creation, the astral plane. The astral universe is where the Creation takes on the garb of light and energy. The astral body radiates light and energy that reflects the qualities of consciousness that make up the current awareness of each soul. The astral world is where the concepts of heaven and hell find their reality. This is where souls come from when they enter this world and where most souls go to after their sojourn in this lifetime.
Finally, in the most limiting part of the Creation, the physical plane, the causal and astral forms are covered with a physical body. This is the universe of matter and this physical body is incredibly limiting. It is akin to being a prisoner in a very small cell. Our predicament is that we have become so identified with our physical body that we think that it is what we are. Fortunately, as we will discuss in more detail later, this physical realm is also where we can make much progress in our efforts to reawaken the memory of our reality as Spirit.
As the result of the way God made the Creation we can see that we have three bodies: ideational (causal), astral and physical. They are connected in ways that we cannot perceive with our senses, but as a soul we are always connected all the way back to our source in Spirit. What keeps us connected? Simply put, it is God’s Love, like a magnet, always trying to draw us back towards our home in Spirit. What keeps us from being drawn back into God’s Love? Our desires. Like a veil, our desires keep us tangled in the web of separateness until we eventually realize that they will never satisfy us. Only complete reunion with the infinite awareness of God’s love and joy can ever satisfy us completely.
So how do we get out of this mess?
This is where we turn back to the examples of the saints. What are the qualities that they manifest as the result of their efforts? These qualities might be called the natural state of the soul. Each person if stripped of their self-involved likes and dislikes would naturally manifest a unique positive expression of the Divine, just as the saints do. What each of us needs to do is awaken within ourselves the same universal soul qualities that the saints express.
Does all this mean that we must become saints before we can be good parents? No. But it wouldn’t hurt! What it comes down to is that if we want to be successful in any area of life it is helpful if we know what the rules are. That will tell us how we can be successful. Once we have a view of the playing field we can begin to develop skills, formulate strategies and consciously move forward with a realistic view of what we are trying to accomplish.
Many people leave parenting – like much of their life – to chance. They go where the wind blows. They follow the crowd. One of the interesting things about the saints is that they invariably do not follow the crowd. They strike out and seek new understanding. Often they are ridiculed for their ways, but they are adventurers seeking new heights. They are not willing to accept a humdrum existence. They push forward until they reach the ultimate goal: God. Each one of us will need to muster that same determination if we want to achieve as much as possible in this life. There is no time to waste.
Each day is a gift. We never know when it will be our time to return to the astral world leaving untold tasks undone. Take each day wholeheartedly and embrace the opportunities that present themselves. Never forget, the positive forces of the universe are on your side. As a child of the Infinite we can rely on our Heavenly Father and our Divine Mother to sustain us, guide us and ever be with us.
The Positive Flow Parenting approach is based on the underlying principles that guide life itself. That is why we have just waded through some pretty deep stuff. We don’t want to limit our efforts in parenting by the “modern” theories that change with each generation. We want to connect ourselves to the time tested truths about how life itself is made.
Just as all musicians use the same basic methods to play a wide variety of styles, once we have learned the basics of right living we can apply those same principles to parenting. Of course living life in the best possible way isn’t something that a person becomes proficient at in just a few weeks. So as we move forward in our efforts we will always be learning new things, making lots of mistakes, pulling a few victories out of the hat, and most importantly, having the adventure of a lifetime!