A new dad visited his spiritual life coach and said “My baby just won’t sleep, he woke up screaming 10 times last night, you settle him and he wakes up as soon as you put him in his cot. I’m so exhausted I just don’t know what to do.”
“It will pass” said the guru matter-of-factly.
A few months later the new dad went excitedly back to the spiritual guru “I can’t believe it, he’s sleeping through all night! He’s been sleeping for 12 hours a night for over a week now, I feel so rested and back to normal, it’s wonderful!”
“It will pass” the teacher replied matter-of-factly.
This is another in my zen parenting series, a modern day take on a beautiful, powerful and deceivingly simple zen story. You can see the original story here about a meditation student and his teacher.
‘It will pass’ is the most powerful lesson I’ve learned from Zen teachings.
It is perhaps one of the most powerful lessons you can learn in life.
Nothing lasts forever. Everything in the universe is in a state of perpetual change. Quite often, when you are experiencing states of heightened and prolonged stress, it seems like it’s going to last forever. But even in the relatively small timeframe of a year, most problems just dissolve. Think back to last May 2014, can you remember what was stressing you out on May 31st in the morning? I’m sure something was niggling at you, if not something blatantly stressing you out. But even with the perspective of a single year it can seem arbitrary.
Now think about the perspective of 5 years. What can you truly remember about May 2010? How about May 2000?
The longer the timeframe, the more your mind deletes, distorts and generalises what has happened. All the little things dissipate into a sea of generalised memories. Have you ever heard someone say ‘it was a great year’, or ‘bloody hell that was a tough few years’. Surely their days and weeks were filled with ups and downs, stresses and strains, joy and happiness and a myriad of emotions. But when ‘It passes’, the mind moves on pretty quickly, and it does a fantastic job of deleting, distorting and generalising your recent story. To the point where you can categorise an entire year as good or bad.
The microscope you view your life through on a day-to-day basis turns into a telescope when looking into the past.
Feel the impermanence of life.
Embrace the constant change.
Understand the transitory nature of all things.
Whatever it is, it will pass.
So, when your baby isn’t sleeping, remember it’s just a phase. Soon they will sleep, and you’ll get used to a full night’s rest, and then they’ll get ill and you won’t sleep again all night. Soon they’ll get older and keep you up with loud music and parties, and you won’t sleep.
Soon enough your grandkids will start the process all over again.
And then you’ll sleep.