Cars, medical devices, IKEA furniture, even small household appliances: They all come with instruction manuals. The parameters of our practice are defined by prescriptives in ancient texts such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or the legends outlined in the Bhagavad Gita. And yet the greatest of life’s journeys—the very one that allows for the perpetuation of our species—comes with precisely zero instruction. Raising a child, that is, is one of life’s most anticipated joys, and most considerable challenges.
What does raising a child consciously look like? We sat down with Insiya Rasiwala-Finn, founder of Yogue and her husband, founder of Blissology, Eoin Finn, to hash it out. “We’d been practicing yoga and meditation for many, many years, but our lives shifted dramatically when we became parents to our son,” says Insiya. “We realized there was a whole purpose that we didn’t know about of why we practice yoga and meditation,” Eoin adds with a laugh.
Here’s a condensed version of our conversation, shot at Wellspring, to give a basic take on what Eoin and Insiya’s version of conscious parenting looks like—including some advice for anyone beginning the journey. Catch Eoin and Insiya in Wanderlust O’ahu! For tickets and more information, click here.
What is conscious parenting?
Eoin: I guess the main thing to start with for me when I think about it is like what an honor it is to raise a little being. It’s to constantly remind yourself that this is the highest gift we could have in this human lifetime: To bring another soul into the universe. How much do we put our thumbs on them and guide them, versus how much do we let them be pulled by who they really are?
Inisya: Yeah, and it’s that question, to your point, of allowing their will to be expressed fully. And in a safe container. Because I think as a conscious parent, what you’re trying to do continuously is expand and grow this container that your child lives in as your child develops and as your child becomes older. But you’re always holding this space so they know they have a safe space to be in. So that’s another big part of it.
Eoin: Conscious parenting really brings up the question—what is being conscious? I think that it’s about presence. Your presence is embodied receptivity, meaning that we, as parents, don’t just get carried away in any situation. We slow down and actually get into our bodies and feel what’s going on, so we can lead with authority, but also with kindness.
Insiya: Yes, and it’s also about understanding from that place of presence what energy you are feeling in that moment, and how your child or your family is receiving that energy. It’s being conscious of what you’re putting out from that inner space. It’s then taking that further into every single moment, or as many moments as possible, because it’s work, and it’s a practice. But it’s that idea of continuously coming back into the body and then working from that place.
What are some of the ways in which we can show up as conscious parents?
Insiya: There’s this idea from Ayurveda that when we’re in balance, our Self is kind of stabilized in the body. When our children are young, there’s a part of themselves that’s still kind of incarnating. This sounds wacky and out there—but your spirit is still incarnating in the body, and there’s a struggle in that whole process. So for children, it’s very easy to kind of lose it, to have those tantrums, to have those spells of despair, because things are not always in alignment, and something may have happened that’s going to impact them.
The thing that I turn to always is figuring out ways in which to create more stability for my child in that moment, so whether it’s touch and holding my child close until he goes through whatever that process is, which can be hard in some situations, breathing, standing, really being in my body, and then eventually, after he moves through whatever it is that he’s feeling, those big emotions that kind of feel like they’re out of your body, everything subsides, and then we’re back with it, and then we kind of repair things, and we talk about it, and we go oh yeah, that was anger. And we name it. Or that was fear, or that was upsetness, and that has helped a lot.
Eoin: For the parents, it’s super important to be able to understand, because I think if you want to be a compassionate, kind person, it involves understanding whether it’s a parent or not, when you understand somebody, it means—literally when you think of the word, you’re not OVERstanding, judging them, looking down. UNDERstanding means you are standing under the person, and you actually allow yourself to see the world from their perspective. I mean, that’s just what love is in general. So that makes a space to approach the situation from love and presence, rather than reactivity and battle.
What are the challenges of raising kids in today’s fast-paced world?
Eoin: We’re distracted and our children are super on all the time. We’re always on culture and we definitely notice it in the kids, especially as they age, they get very little time just to be, where they’re not doing, and that’s crazy-making for adults, unconsciously, but it’s really extra hard on the kids. And so that’s a big part of conscious parenting, I think, is to really allow that space where the kids can just be.
Insiya: What we do in our own home is we create tech-free spaces and tech-free times. Dinner is sacred time, we don’t even take a phone call if it rings during that time. We turn off our phones, we’re at the table, fully present, sharing time. I make sure no phones ever come into our bedrooms and I really, consciously, try to not be on my phone, especially in that zone after our son comes home and before he goes to bed. And then, if I had some stuff to work on, I’ll stay up after he goes to bed and finish off a few things. But when he’s with us I don’t want him to see me glued to my phone, continuously texting, posting something on social media and things like that because I think the more our children see us doing that, the more they think it’s normal. It’s an addictive behavior that becomes normalized.
Eoin: And we’re not Luddites, I use my phone a lot—
Insiya: We use our phone for work, right? We use our technology for work.
Eoin: But you just gotta make time, I guess what you’re saying is we gotta make time to party like it’s 1899 every day. We try and just cut out that artificial light, from devices, from television, more candle lights. Your grandparents probably blessed their food before they ate; modern living’s just like, „No, let’s just eat.“ And so we carry on that… I don’t know who we pray to, life, universe, nature, but we take that time to thank the universe and thank our food.
Any last thoughts?
Insiya: We as parents, have to work really hard on letting go of the download of society and expectations, because our children are unique individual beings, and we have to honor and respect that fully—which is a hard practice, and I know I struggle with it because I have a lot of conditioning.
Eoin: Like with your yoga practice, parenting is the deep yoga. Yoga is actually putting yourself in an uncomfortable place, to be on the edge for an hour and a half. But the edge is where growth happens. I always say if the edge was easy, it would be called the couch, so be patient with yourself when you’re on that developmental edge all the time, and enjoy the process. It’s such a beautiful gift and honor.
Do you parent with conscious or mindfulness practices in mind? How so? Share in the comments below.
Lisette Cheresson is a writer, storyteller, yoga teacher, and adventuress who is an avid vagabond, homechef, dirt-collector, and dreamer. When she’s not playing with words, it’s a safe bet that she’s either hopping a plane, dancing, cooking, or hiking. She received her Level II Reiki Attunement and attended a 4-day intensive discourse with the Dalai Lama in India, and received her RYT200 in Brooklyn. She is currently the Director of Content at Wanderlust Festival. You can find her on Instagram @lisetteileen.