I had to watch a child a couple days ago because the parents had set up a meeting to talk about divorce, they didn’t want the little girl to over hear this conversation, so we were in a separate room playing.
She was so quiet, she was SO Adorable and so very mindful. Playing with the puzzles over and over again, I just watched her the entire time - as if it were a meditation practice. I was feeling surprisely serene given the outer circumstances. But I felt like I didn’t need to say anything, she would play a little and say “Jiejie (older sister), you know at school this happened to me.” I just listened, fully curious of what she was going to say.She would continue to play and then tell me another story, and then another. By the time she told me the fourth story, that’s when it was about her teacher, shaming another girl in her class, threatening that she would pull her pants down if she didn’t behave - she seemed to be testing me to see how safe it was to share her stories!
I was very aware of the order in which she told me this story, she told me three insignificant stories before she deemed it safe to share what was going on in her heart and was troubling her little mind— she felt the silence, the receptacle, the vessel that was unknowingly provided for her. She seemed grateful that the teacher didn’t say that to her, but it was also obvious that she was concerned for her friend, and wanted to see, from another human being, that the teacher was strange or out of line for saying that?In essence, she needed to be mirrored - shown from another person, whether how she felt was valid or not.We talked about it a little bit, and she concluded that it wasn’t a very nice thing for her teacher to say and continued playing.
Weeks went by, and things settled between the parents, and I told her mother that as heartfelt as I was about the conversation happening weeks before between her and her husband, that I thoroughly enjoyed my alone time with her, and that I got to hear about her daughters friends, and her teachers and school and all that, I was so grateful.Her mother turned to me and said: "She never talks to me about school…. because I never give her a chance to speak”
I shared with her that ultimately this was really a manifestation of the mother not holding enough space for her own thoughts, so how, in this case can you hold the thoughts of another?
I taught her some techniques of how to listen to her inner voice, and taught her a short meditation practice that she could do whilst playing with her child.
Many people think that building a mediation practice requires a quiet ashram, candles, lights, blocks, cushions and what ever material you think you need that resembles the ‘classical’ meditation practice - like Julia Roberts in the Balinese Gazebo!
According to the Yogic definition, meditation is as simple as having a single pointed focus. This single point of focus, could be just about anything. The requirements of the environmentcould be just about anything that allows you a conducive space to maintain that point of focus – this is different for everybody.
For example, you could focus on the water running down from the tap when your washing your hands, on the water when it enters your mouth, on swallowing the water down your throat, each and all, are aspects of that single pointed focus that ones attention could be focused on. The object of focus, in this case, is thewater itself.
Although water running from the tap is not a great example, cause we don't really want to be focusing for too long on it going down the drain, eh? Meaning with the whole being environmental friendly and conscious aspect, cause if the purpose of meditation is to build conscious awareness, the means of meditation itself, must of course, be coherent with the efforts of building that conscious awareness itself.
Water is used here more for illustrating purposes, that just about anything in your daily living, or daily use, could be used as a single point of focus, where you have the opportunity of practicing conscious awareness.
So going towhat I taught this mother, and what generally helps alleviate some of the frequent guilt that parents report feeling from those brief moments of inattention to their children, like if they were to glance at their phone during playtime, or check out mentally entirely, is to assign blocks of time, starting from anywhere from 1 minute to 20 minutes, on focusing on your children AS your meditation practice- most of you are very lucky cause you already do it!
However, this meditation requires doing nothing else, like you have NO OTHER task, whether it be mental or physical that you have to do during this time - and yes time it, so you have a concrete start and ending point and know you are accomplishing it with a time frame so you can slowly build on that time. Not carrying mental judgment, correcting, and maybe sometimes speaking that comes along with you watching your kids. I’m talking about the type of mind that is calm collected, alert, non drowsy, fully conscious.
The reason for not speaking, if and only if, you find pockets of time where that is possible, is becausesilence is one of the prerequisites of meditation, from you and not from them - not suggesting ignoring your children either hahaha. I mean don't choose a time where your kids are talking to you of course, butfocusing on your children- use them as that single pointed focus, watch them and be curious, look at them like you have never looked at them before. This likewise, provides that space, that receptacle, that children need to feel safe, to feel nurtured, not a cup that is full to the brim and cannot take in anything else.
Now your probably thinking, ummm I already look at them all the time, so how is this any different? It is because the usual focusing on your children generally involves a lot of mental chatter, like 'Oh my god, what if they fall off the chair?' or 'They are going to need snacks later' or 'I need nap time to be long today, cause mama needs a break etc' kinda chatter, which results in your conscious awareness actually never really ever being on the situation, the focus instead is on the mental chatter.
“The mind can only be conscious of one thought at a time, choose a positive one.”
If you feel moved to try this practice out, do let me know how it went in the comments below! I would love to hear your experiences!