Enlightenment on Toast: Bridging the Gap between Spirituality and Parenthood

Enlightenment on Toast: Bridging the Gap between Spirituality and Parenthood

by Carrie Antoniou

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504302746
Publisher: Balboa Press Australia
Publication date: 06/06/2016
Pages: 124
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.29(d)

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Enlightenment on Toast

Bridging the Gap between Spirituality and Parenthood


By Carrie Antoniou

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2016 Carrie Antoniou
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5043-0274-6



CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION


For many years as a new mother, I failed to make the connection between my spiritual practice and the parenting journey on which I had embarked. The two seemed far removed from each other, and whilst I continued to read and learn the teachings of the sages and modern mystics throughout my early years as a parent, I failed to make the deeper connection between the spiritual path I was on and my role as a parent. Over time, an inner awareness emerged that enabled me to combine my own spiritual understandings with the principles of human psychology, take advantage of all the lessons available to me as a parent and create true positive change in my family. Had I known then what I know now, I would have saved myself many years of confusion as I raised my children based on false assumptions of how a parent should act, all the while abandoning my own inner truth, which held all the tools I could ever need to be a happy and successful parent. There is no manual for parenthood, and despite the best efforts of those around you to offer their advice, at the end of the day you are the one running the show when it comes to raising your children. You are likely to draw knowledge from a wealth of information such as how you were parented as a child, or things you've heard from friends, in the media, or by word of mouth. Most parents don't stop to consider that they have every parenting solution at their fingertips if they were to sufficiently quiet their mind and consult their own inner wisdom. It certainly didn't occur to me for a long time that the spiritual lessons I knew could apply to the role of parenting, and that my own growth in consciousness didn't automatically need to be put on hold following the arrival of my children.

As a new parent, you become engrossed in sleep routines, nappy changes, feeding times, and more. You are driven by instinctual behaviours to protect and nurture your offspring. This is part of being fully human: to experience all the sobering details of life in the most basic and challenging way. Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. It entails all the wonderful things you hear about, but it is also full of other challenges that can test your capacity for responding with loving-kindness to its absolute limit. Even the most mindful of parents can find themselves in the midst of chaos and confusion when confronted with the challenges facing them on a daily basis. Following the traumatic birth of my first child, I became disconnected from my sense of spirit, and for several years I became lost in the reality of life as a busy, working mum. My own light dimmed (unknowingly to me at first), and I became disconnected from the truth that had been revealed to me on many occasions previously. When anxiety started to affect all aspects of my life and the depressive periods became more frequent, I knew I needed to make a change. For a while I sought to get busier in my small business, but this distracted me from the real issue for a short time and ended up compounding the present stress I was under. When a good friend introduced me to Dr Bradley Nelson's book The Emotion Code, my life took on a whole new trajectory, which thankfully got me in touch with my own inner truth and brought me back home to myself. Becoming an energy healer allowed me to release the past hurts that had kept me stuck in unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours, and it finally gave me the inner stillness I needed to break free from the madness of the life I had been living so that I could truly start to live. Many parents go through this period of forgetfulness when they embark on the creation of a new family unit: they lose a sense of themselves and then see the challenges they are facing as inevitable speed bumps along the slow path of parenting. Most don't stop to realise that lying hidden within these obstacles is the true gold on the path to personal mastery, and that these obstacles are capable of catapulting their inner growth to levels never before imagined.

It dawned on me over a series of inner awakenings that having young children was an amazing life course that was able to teach parents every skill they would ever need to live a life of purpose — and more important, of happiness. The package of repetitive routines that are so characteristic to parenthood contain every lesson needed to spiritually awaken you to being a happy and engaged parent with a divine purpose to discover and enjoy. It is simply a case of unlocking these lessons to find the hidden treasure and then delighting in the opportunity to have these daily reminders to prevent you from ever fully losing yourself in the struggle of parenting. My intention in writing this book is to explore these hidden lessons and to remind you that you are a remarkable being with the capacity to grow exponentially through your journey of parenthood. The light you can bring to your children through mindfulness and compassion serves to awaken both of you in the process. In fact, it is the regular routine inherent in parenting that becomes a master class you repeat every day and every year, perfecting the lessons and bringing yourself back into a space of love and understanding time and time again. Enlightenment may not be something commonly associated with parenthood — in fact, it may be the very last thing on a parent's mind as she wrestles with new routines and challenges facing her at every step of her child's development. However, once the possibility of an increased spiritual awareness is welcomed, a shift takes place that allows for a higher consciousness to move through a parent. It will meet parents wherever they currently are, lift them, and help carry them along the often rocky roads of parenthood. The truth is spirituality and parenthood go perfectly hand in hand, and I believe parents were never meant to raise children based solely on their best psychological reasoning. The deepest truth within each and every human being is the perfect guide to support them on an inspired path through parenthood. The often perceived mundane nature of parenting, something as common and ordinary as beans on toast, is replaced with a new and more enlivened concept that transforms everything it touches to something profoundly richer. What was mundane becomes magical, what was ordinary becomes extraordinary, and a bridge between the two that contains the whole emerges. You arrive in a place of bliss where the food served up is more akin to enlightenment on toast, and where parenting is the highest form of guidance, highly fitting for a generation of children in a newly emerging paradigm.

I've always believed that my children have far more to teach me than I will ever teach them. In fact we are teaching each other, and just as they have chosen me as their mother, my soul chose them to come into my life and teach me lessons I came here to learn. When you see your children as equal allies on the path to inner awakening, parenting becomes a lot easier. You lighten up on yourself and your children, and you witness their natural ability to live in the present moment and find joy in the simplest of things. My three-year-old twins delight in making up funny words and laughing hysterically. Most parents know how easy it is to make a child laugh; whether making a silly face or a strange noise, it takes no effort at all. They are still so strongly connected to their true source of love that each and every moment is joyous. They are enjoying the experience of being a divine being in physical form, and so they find pleasure in simply being alive. Once you allow this lightness to enter your heart, you will find that every moment is renewed in awe and beauty, and once you learn to actively encourage these higher vibrational thoughts that align you with source energy, you will find that parenting is actually a remarkably enjoyable journey. Life is meant to be fun, and you came here to enjoy the experience of rediscovering your true nature. I believe children have so much to teach us about this because they are still very connected to spirit and haven't yet become disenchanted with the illusion of life as a separate "I." Once the egoic mind takes hold and disconnects you from your source, you become lost in the illusion and become overly identified with the idea that your life is all you see in this physical world. Eventually you will awaken from this illusion and start the long journey back home to the place of remembering what you have known all along. Your true nature of love is always beckoning you to return to your rightful state of bliss, yet many fail to hear this call because of the noise and distraction created by the ego. A life lived from the ego is based on fear of losing what it has, of not acquiring what it wants, and of never being quite good enough. In the busy life of parenthood, this sense of ego can become even more pronounced as you seek to gain control and order over your children, or berate yourself for not being the perfect parent. Time for reflection is minimal, and the task of keeping up with your many roles often becomes frantic and inconsistent, which paves the way for future suffering as you delve further into a fear-based way of parenting.

This book uncovers and highlights the many lessons your children can teach you that can awaken your inner spirit. Through these teachings you will be better equipped to respond from love in the face of any challenging behaviour, preventing you from falling back into fear-based parenting. Your life will start to change when you introduce new thoughts and practices on a daily basis. Most people spend each day thinking approximately the same thoughts and responding to their children in the same way that they did the day before. It gives them a sense of security knowing what to expect, but it often keeps them blinded to their true nature and stuck in their limited ego-self. Change can be frightening because you start to give up your imagined ability to control your life. When you expand your mind and apply the lessons in this book, unexpected things will happen. You will find that as you improve your own behaviour and responses, your children will naturally be guided to do the same. Rather than using discipline as a method of getting your child to comply with your demands, you start to see an opportunity for your children when they are most in need of your loving guidance. You awaken to the notion that any fear-inducing discipline only seeks to create further distance between you and your children, rather than drawing them into your space of love at a time they need it and would benefit from it the most. When you bring a sense of calm and love into any parenting situation, you create an immediate potential for positive change. As new possibilities and perceptions arise, your relationship with your child changes and life as a parent becomes a most remarkable journey of self-discovery. Harnessing the lessons parenthood can teach can provide the foundation for this growth, and in return it helps change the world by raising a new generation of spiritually awakened children.

This is a book for anyone who has the privilege of raising children and has always felt that there was more to life than simply surviving parenting — that there was a deeper meaning beneath it all. My hope is that there will be something in these pages that will speak to you and remind you of what you already know but have forgotten, so that you can thoroughly enjoy every joyous and insane moment that parenting brings. As an amazing aunty of mine once told me, "A happy life is made up less of great events than little, lovely moments." It is not the grand gestures on an infrequent basis that your children will remember; rather, it's the consistent moments of mindful and loving parenting that will make up a beautiful childhood. I wish each and every one of you my sincere love and hope that you have the strength and courage to take a new approach to parenting that aligns you with a higher truth that has lived within you all along.

CHAPTER 2

WHY TAKE THE SPIRITUAL PATH IN PARENTHOOD?


For many years, I believed that a spiritual practice would be much easier to follow when my children were older. I could not imagine finding the time for deep reflection amidst the busy schedule of managing a household with four young children while simultaneously running a business. I was stuck in a dulled, comfortable consciousness that suited my life at that time. The awakenings I had experienced as a teenager and then as a young adult served the purpose of keeping the ember burning within, so that I would one day return to contemplate my own truth when the time was right. It's a personal choice to delve into the nature of your soul, and some never make that choice in this lifetime. Many people are limited in their spiritual growth by their particular religious beliefs, which limit their ability to have their personal and unique experience of the divine. They have been raised not to question their faith and so feel on a subconscious level that it is in some way blasphemous to engage in an agnostic practice. On the other end of the spectrum are those who have been so put off by the ongoing hypocrisies within various religions that they determine that there is no God at all; they close their minds and hearts to the possibility that there is a divine presence inside their souls.

Finding meaning in your life can sometimes be thrust upon you during a personal crisis, be it a relationship breakdown, the death of a loved one, or something equally as challenging. It might be parenthood itself and the awe of bringing a life into the world that sparks your inner fire. These life-changing moments can stop you in your tracks and make you question your own mortality and purpose here on earth. This can lead to an increased sense of knowing that there is more to you than your identity and your life story so far. Upon this realisation, a lot of people naturally want to reach out to others, to do their part in helping improve lives. There is a faint whisper that calls you to stand up and make your life count. You appreciate the importance of relationships and connecting with others as opposed to a need for personal gain. You start to be more mindful of the words you use and the actions you take, and you may decide to follow a passion you have been harbouring since childhood. It is not essential for you to have felt the shift of an inner awakening in order to benefit from the lessons that are provided in this book. By applying the principles that follow, you will find that you are effortlessly guided towards a higher sense of purpose. I have found from personal experience that many spiritual awakenings were very transitory, and their effects would only last a day or two until the memory of them faded; then life resumed as it always had. I had the memory of experiencing something beyond my current reality, and that stayed with me, although the voice within me got very quiet to the point of a whisper.

An awakening occurs when you experience the truth of spirit within yourself. It may occur quite naturally while you are out walking in nature, or it may happen through meditation when the mind becomes quiet enough to allow the stillness within you to expand, temporarily altering your perspective. It is incomparable to any experience you may have on the physical level and is quite intangible in nature, which may leave you questioning after the event whether it happened at all. Trust your intuition and know that it will not lead you astray. In staying committed to a higher path, you keep the doors open for more gifts from spirit to enter into your life. Spiritual enlightenment is not something that springs to mind when you consider parenting. I vividly remember the day I sat on the couch, miserably failing at breastfeeding my first child; in pain, feeling lonely and lost. I dug out my beloved copy of I Am That by Nisargardatta Maharaj and started reading. It was almost like the deepest part of me knew that there was a way out of this suffering, that there was a better way. Yet no matter how much I read, the words were no longer capable of pulling me back into the light as they had previously done. I was so deeply preoccupied with the difficulties and confusion of motherhood that I remained suspended in this state for several years, lost in the greatest illusion of all.

During my second pregnancy, I once again awoke to the voice within me. I longed for the light and wisdom from spirit to see me through my second birth, having had a traumatic experience with my firstborn. I prayed for guidance and gained insight from visualisations that had intuitively been shown to me, specifically drawing strength from the moon. I envisaged myself as an ancient tree with roots going deep into Mother Earth, my branches reaching up towards the infinite cosmos. I imagined the moon slowly and safely guiding my second child out into the world; she would be my goddess of the moon, a strong and courageous female, and she was aptly named Artemis. Despite experiencing a wonderful birth, the task of now raising two young children caused me to lose myself again in the world of form, duality, and suffering. I lost touch with my inner guide through the day-to-day task of parenting and put my spiritual journey on hold whilst I attended to the practical demands of my young family. It was through a series of life-changing events — including the arrival of my twin girls, a marriage breakdown, and a dissatisfaction with my ability to consciously parent my young children — that I was led to my biggest awakening to date. This proved to be the one that propelled me into the truth on a more consistent basis. My daily commitment to the light was rewarded with many miracles that unfolded in short sequence. The biggest miracle was the revival of my marriage, which was created anew in a way that I could never have imagined. Another miracle was the emergence of my life purpose. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my role as healer, teacher, and lightworker would be my gift to the world. I knew that my work was here now, in the face of all the challenges that parenthood brought. My children were my greatest teachers and would serve to remind me that I had recommitted to the spiritual path and could no longer deviate from it, no matter how challenging life became. As long as I was parenting, I would strive to be a conscious role model and use the variety of lessons provided for my own continued awakening.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Enlightenment on Toast by Carrie Antoniou. Copyright © 2016 Carrie Antoniou. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

1. Introduction, 1,
2. Why Take the Spiritual Path in Parenthood?, 9,
3. Models of Consciousness, 15,
4. The Ego and Irrational Thinking, 24,
5. Introducing Moments of Stillness, 33,
6. Guilt, 41,
7. Learning to Stand Firmly in Your Truth, 48,
8. The School Years, 54,
9. Mindfulness, 71,
10. Follow Your Bliss, 81,
11. Beyond the Physical Body, 86,
12. Energy Healing, 91,
13. Forgiveness, 100,
14. Death and Immortality, 105,
15. Creating a Framework for Your Child's Spiritual Growth, 109,

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