Do More of This
This picture was posted on Old Ways Facebook page this morning, and I have been thinking about it all day.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been off-and-on actively going to a group meditation practice at a local Buddhist Temple. Last year, the community decided to center more on the native Vietnamese community and so the English-speaking Buddhist community moved to another location. I’ve been meaning to get over there since they moved, and just have not been able to get myself together and join the group in the new location… until last week. I was finally able to go, and I hate to say it, but I was severely out of practice. I was fidgety, and distracted. There was ambient noise that was very ‘loud’, and I just had a really hard time falling into a meditative trance. I don’t remember it being that hard – it wasn’t when I was in good practice. So that’s one thing I really want to get back into on a more regular basis – group meditation.
I also have been neglecting teaching/leading/encouraging the kids in their meditation practice. A couple of years ago, I made meditation jars with the kids. There are literally tons of tutorials on Pinterest, but we used mason jars, water-based hair gel, water, food coloring, glitter and gorilla glue (to seal the jars) for ours. The kids’ jars calm after being shaken in about 7 minutes and mine takes closer to 14. The more gel, the longer the jar takes to clear. If your kids are new to meditation, you can use smaller jars, or less gel so that they clear a bit faster. I was thinking that making several with different calm times (5 min./10 min./20 min. etc.) would be a cool way to expand the time the kids meditate for.
Imaginations by Carolyn Clarke also suggests teaching children to lay down, relaxed, with an eye mask (lavender? chamomile?) to aid them in letting go, and also to block distracting visual stimuli. My boys lay on their stomachs with chin on hands when they use their jars usually, though they have used them at their desks as well. We also sit criss-cross-apple-sauce style with knees touching and eyes closed on occasion, but that’s more often when we need to re-connect with each other. As a connectivity tool, meditation is an amazing alternative to ‘time out’. Some see that as a ‘non violent’ method of discipline (and being raised in a house/religion that insisted that spanking was the only/best way, I saw time out that way for a long time. Even though I used it sparingly, it still wasn’t ‘comfortable’, but I lacked the tools to do anything else when mine were very small).
With age and experience comes wisdom, and now I liken the ‘time out’ method as similar to the practice of ‘shunning’ that some religions endorse as a corrective method. Having experienced that several times myself, I now see the practice (both of them), as somewhat extreme. I feel that children need to be held a little closer in times of trial, rather than exiled. Rather than isolating an immature child to think for themselves and draw what conclusions they may, drawing them closer and having some time to reconnect physically and spiritually, without the burden of conversation, for a bit eases the way into a productive conversation where redirection can be effective. It’s very difficult to touch someone you love and maintain anger and irritation – the physical connection somehow short-circuits the negative emotion. I need to take my own advice more! So that’s something I also want to work on – meditation practice with the kids and physically connecting with them instead of distance when I am frustrated with them.
Another thing I have started doing is copying and printing the kid crafts that we do and add them to the kids’ Shadow Books. There’s not a huge population of Pagans who have grown up this way, and as a parent, I often have a hard time finding ‘traditional but modern’ new crafts or esbat/sabbat-specific activities. I figure by documenting the things we do, they will have their own ‘tradition’ handed down to them to use with their children if they so desire. My path is pretty eclectic, and constantly adding new elements as I learn them, or modifying old ones. It’s also neat to have a record of my path as it progresses. I used to be really diligent about filing my papers into the correct Shadow Books (binders) and have gotten lazy about that, too. I started re-arranging my shelves and cabinet the other day, so I want to finish that as well.
How about you? Have you tried meditation with your kids? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?