When I was recently thinking about how to incorporate more bhakti into my everyday life and, I became a little bit ashamed. I’ve been a full-time mom for over two years now and it feels like there’s just no time in my day to practice bhakti or do any devotional practices at all. I barely manage to squeeze out 5 mins in the day to do a quick Simple Puja and I haven’t been able to read a full page of the Gita in peace or without falling asleep in over a year.
Can any of the other moms out there relate?
Written by: Ananga Manjari Dasi
What I have learned about incorporating bhakti into a busy mom-life over the last two years is this:
- Let yourself off the hook. You might already be doing many bhakti-related things in your day-to-day life.
- Take practical shortcuts that incorporate bhakti activities, like letting your kids watch kirtan on YouTube or singing them a mantra to bed instead of a lullaby.
- Above all, practice self-love.
Acknowledge Your Everyday Bhakti
What I really want moms everywhere who doubt themselves to know is that you are already living bhakti. As a follower of Paramahamsa Vishwananda and Bhakti Marga, you are already on the path of devotion. Acknowledge all the little acts of devotion that fill your day like thinking of your guru and thanking God in a happy moment or praying to them in a difficult moment.
Sharing your joy and your pain with guru and God is an expression of bhakti.
I often hear from other moms in Bhakti Marga that when their children misbehave, they internally complain to Guruji, “Guruji, you better help me here because I’m about to lose it!” I know that I say this often.
I once asked Guruji in a personal setting why some Bhakti Marga babies are so difficult. He answered quite seriously, “Because they have an aspect of Krishna in them.”
Isn’t it wonderful that we get to raise little devotees who carry a bit of Krishna within them?
The Pressure To Be A 'Good' Bhakti Marga Mom
When I look at myself and other Bhakti Marga moms I often see us putting enormous pressure on ourselves like:
- Feeling like you need to teach your kids how to do puja, sing mantras and bhajans, and all the rest all at the same time
- Teaching your kids how to play the harmonium and sing on stage or at the temple
- Keeping up with all the other Bhakti Marga kids and moms
- Being the perfect devotee so you can be a good role model for your family
- Feeling like we have to attend all the events, even the late-night ones
There’s one simple way to eliminate this pressure off of yourself, which I learned in the early years of my journey with Guruji. Look for what is motivating you from the inside. Examine yourself as Saint Eknath did.
Why are you pushing your kids into certain bhakti activities? Is it to keep up with the other families in the community? Is it the desire to see your child also sing on stage? More importantly, is it something your child enjoys doing?
Watch yourself carefully so that you’re not driven by jealousy or competitiveness. If you don’t, then you can be sure that Guruji will point it out to you sooner or later.
Practising Self-Love As An Act Of Bhakti
I remember my life as a devotee before I became a mother. I would watch hours of satsangs per week and attend every single online or local event that Bhakti Marga would put on. That seems like a distant memory now.
As a mother, your schedule revolves around your children and your family. You hardly have time for yourself, let alone to indulge in a few minutes of peaceful YouTube watching.
I learned that I had to be satisfied and grateful for the little time I had to do some of the devotional activities I used to do before becoming a mom. That meant being happy with watching kirtan on YouTube and letting my son dance to it while cooking dinner. It meant being satisfied with sneaking in one or two satsangs during mealtimes here and there. It meant being grateful that I could sing a few mantras to him to help him fall asleep because it was another way to practice my japa in the empty moments.
As a mother, you are constantly engaged in service, and whether you like to admit it or not, it is often selfless service. You serve your kids, your partner, your home, your in-laws, your parents, and also your deities. You might not be able to serve in one area as deeply as you used to before because your service must now be spread out broadly. And that’s OK.
Service of Motherhood
I’ve followed Paramahamsa Vishwananda since 2013 and in all this time, I’ve only had one interview with him. It was the day I took my devotee initiation. I asked Him how I could serve Him. He paused and thought for a minute and then answered with two words: 'Just serve.'
He didn’t instruct me to serve him as a Yoga & Meditation teacher or a Bhakti Marga organizer or in any particular way. Now I’m starting to see why.
I believe He wanted me to become aware of how to serve in the most mundane everyday activities. He wanted me to see that changing my kid’s diaper while he wrestled me like a mixed-martial arts fighter is service. He wanted me to engage in the simple act of making a morning coffee for my husband with the attitude of service. He wanted me to acknowledge that even writing this blog post is a way that I serve Him and to be grateful for these small opportunities to serve.
In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna said we have the right to our labour, but not to the fruits of our labour. Even though Krishna says this in the karma-yoga section of the Gita, I believe that He’s actually talking about bhakti-yoga. Changing that diaper is its own reward, as is making that coffee, and writing this post because we do it out of love.
In these tiny everyday moments of service are hidden pure moments of bhakti.
Love shows up unexpectedly when we’re engaged in hard labour and when we practice unshakeable dedication. Bhakti is an expression of that love. Moms and dads everywhere, let’s allow ourselves to acknowledge these numerous tiny moments of service as bhakti, thank guru and God for them, and enjoy the labour of love.