Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Children and Meditation: A Follow-Up July 23, 2013

A proper meditation tipi

A proper meditation tipi

“Thank you, Granna.  I love you.”  These words from my 11-year-old grandson were accompanied by a warm hug before he went up to bed.

Earlier that evening I had taken my five grandchildren to our tipi and taught them a lovingkindness meditation. I’d been thinking for months about what I wanted to do with them during this summer’s visit to our cabin in the Smokey Mountains. One thought was to introduce them to meditation, so in a blog post last March I asked readers for suggestions. The response was far beyond my expectations.  My sincere thanks to all who shared your wonderful ideas.

With help from them and Coming to Your Senses, a new book about meditation written by my friend, Beth Johnson, I came up with a plan for four sessions.  All the children, ranging from five to eleven, are excellent students with good attention spans, but anticipating their excitement about being together combined with the novelty of learning how to meditate in a tipi, I decided to keep the sessions no more than 15 minutes long.  My plan was to focus on their physical senses and guide them through fun activities that would harness their creative imagination. I also devised follow-up activities, most for outdoors (listening for sounds, looking for landmarks on our property, and finding and identifying wildflowers), and, in case it rained, one (making a mind jar) for indoors.

My backpack full of props included a hand-woven wool Navajo placemat;  a thick, pure soy candle; incense and an incense container; a lighter; a tape player and 2 tapes of Cherokee legends to play at the beginning of each session;  a few bottles of water; 6 towels on which to sit or lie; bug repellant; and because it was such a rainy summer, a camo tarp to cover the wet tipi floor.

I approached the first session, which was about quieting our monkey mind by noticing our physical body and senses, with a bit of trepidation. The kids are still at the stage where the mere mention of the word “body” brings up giggly references to body parts normally not mentioned in polite company.  I got what I expected. At dinner a few nights later our friend Bud, the grandfather of a 3-year old boy, asked, “So how did the meditations with the grandchildren go?” “Exactly how you’d expect with five children under 11.” I said.

The next day I skipped the Day Two session “Feeling and Relaxing Your Body” (guess why) and went directly to Day Three:  “Finding Your Star,” a creative visualization suggested by a reader named Amy. We lay on our towels, closed our eyes, and imagined flying above our bodies. We flew over the cabin, mountains, and seas into outer space toward our own special star.  When we arrived we sat down for a while to enjoy the view. I told them this is a very special quiet and safe place inside them where they can return whenever they feel sad, lonely, or a need to be alone. After a moment we flew back into our bodies and stood up and did a silly star dance.

Amy also suggested the lovingkindness meditation we did the last day.  They were getting used to this by now, so although there was still some silliness, everyone participated fully and enjoyed talking about it later. After listening to another Cherokee legend we focused on the candle flame, then on our heartbeats, and then on the light of love inside our hearts which grew bigger and brighter as we imagined being with someone we love. Finally we imagined giving away some of this light/love to someone who might need it from us. These children are naturally sweet and loving, and judging by my grandson’s bedtime response, I’m pretty sure this one was their favorite.

I feel very good about my first try at teaching my grandchildren how to meditate. I don’t expect any immediate or dramatic changes, but I’m pretty sure I gave them some memorable experiences that planted a few seeds of awareness.  I’m going to love watching them grow.

“The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth.  Scholarliness belongs to the spirit of this time, but this spirit in no way grasps the dream, since the soul is everywhere that scholarly knowledge is not.”    Carl Jung  The Red Book, A Reader’s Edition, p. 133

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

Note:  For those who are wondering, I’m taking a little sabbatical from blog-writing this summer so you won’t be getting many e-mails like this for a while, but I’m posting links to some of my archived posts on Twitter and my Facebook page. I hope you enjoy them.

 

A Grand Adventure July 10, 2013

Globe fire pit:  The fire's in South America

Globe fire pit: The fire’s in South America

It’s been over five weeks since I decided to step back from my twice-weekly blog posting to just let life happen without an agenda. I’ve been surprised to find that with only one exception (my post about Grandmother Spider) I haven’t missed writing.  Until today. Why now? Lots of things I guess:  a note from a friend who’s missing my regular updates and musings;  a lull in the activity going on around here (my three grandsons have left to visit their other grandparents for a week and my daughter’s family is off zip-lining today).  And also, perhaps, because I think best by writing and I have much to think about.

Apparently my new freedom from stressing over self-imposed writing deadlines has snuck into other areas of my personality. The other day my husband and one of our grandsons spent a lot of time setting out cushions and hauling wood and laying a fire in our new globe fire pit in the terrace garden by the creek.  Out-of-town friends were dropping by for a glass of wine and we were going to sit out there.

Just before they arrived the skies darkened and thunder rolled and a few fat droplets splashed on the deck.  I casually said to my daughter, “Let it rain. The wood will dry, the cushions won’t be ruined, and they’ll see it another time.”  With a deadpan look she said, “Well that was very un-compulsive of you!”  I’m still chuckling.  I loved it that my stress switch didn’t automatically flip on and highjack my equanimity as it has done so often in the past! I don’t know if it’s increasing age or increasing consciousness, but either way, it’s real progress!

Last week my five grandchildren were here for some much anticipated fun at Camp MaBoppa with, you guessed it, Ma and Boppa. After several days of spending most of our time indoors because of non-stop rain, one night around midnight I was in their bunk room trying for the zillionth time to settle them down and get them to go to sleep. The first few nights of this it hadn’t been an issue. The excitement of being with each other was catching and I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to let them enjoy the novelty for the few days they’d all be together.

But by this night my HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) personality trait had been pushed to the max by not enough sleep, too little solitude, and too much intense stimulation. Tired, frustrated, and cranky, I was preparing to leave when one child started laughing and another started crying and I felt a crack in my normally patient, composed persona, and then it exploded into a million pieces. I felt it coming like you do when someone lights the fuse of a giant mamajama Roman Candle on the 4th of July, and then I let it fly with a few angry, totally appropriate, well-chosen words!

Absolute silence! In bed a moment later, a twinge of guilt and a bit of fear that they’d stop loving me were soon swept away by a wave of joy and “You go, girl!” pride.  I did it! I was proud of myself! It was the right thing to do and I knew it! For someone who hates conflict so much that sometimes she doesn’t set clear boundaries, this was an important achievement.

That night I dreamed I was looking at a map of the Western Hemisphere and tracing a route that started in North America, passed through Central America, and ended at a special village in the center of South America. Part of the route was a watery passage dotted with islands. I imagined I’d need a canoe for that. I’d been asked by a regal-looking woman wearing a long, neutral colored dress to accompany her and her photographer on this trip. I was to help him articulate the essence and meanings of the images he’d be making of our grand adventure. The dream ended with someone giving me a packet of folded up paper. When I opened it, precious gems tumbled out and I searched for the diamond I knew was in there for me.

The next day we were having lunch when one of my grandsons said, “Do you remember what you said last night?”

“Yup,” I said.  “I sure do.  And there’s more where that came from if I need it.”

“I’ve never seen you that way,” he said with a touch of awe. “Me neither,” said the little one, equally solemn and wide-eyed.  Then we all smiled at each other and ate our sandwiches.

This summer is turning out to be a grand adventure.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon site and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 
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