After a long week (yes, yogis have long weeks, too), I am finally catching a break with a day off from my 9 to 5 desk job! I started my Friday morning with Gina's 10:30am Meditation Class at Alluem. What a wonderful way to start the day! With the doors open at the studio to let the sun shine in and the sound of the water from the river flowing, Gina lead us through a most relaxing guided meditation. Meditation takes practice...whether you're a seasoned meditator or a beginner, the key is practice. Practice quieting the mind. Practice conditioning our bodies to be still. Practice focusing on what's truly important - this moment. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, not even 5 minutes ago - now. When we realize that this moment is what matters most, we can let go. We can trust the space we are in, the air that we're breathing, the ground supporting us, the emotion we are feeling, the condition our bodies are in. We can observe all this, embrace it, and then let it go. The question is, can our children experience the beauty of all this? Yes. They are the gurus of it.
I believe children are natural yogis. I believe we are brought into this world with the innate ability to be in the moment. You see this in babies - crying one moment, laughing the next. You see this in children - mad at you for turning off the TV one moment, and loving you completely the next, because all you wanted was to spend some time with them - the attention that children need most. I saw this in the children this afternoon during a school visit with a Pre-School Special Education class. With teachers not knowing what to expect, I lead a class of 3-5yr olds through Storytime Yoga. The children were completely engaged with the stories I was reading, following right along with me. Breathing deep with instruction and moving their bodies, some on their own and some with a little help from the classroom aids. All that mattered to them was this moment - barking in Downward Dog, roaring through Lion's Breath, mooing as they arched their back in Cow Pose. They giggled, they moved, they relaxed in Savasana, eyes shut, waiting for the moment when a butterfly to land on their bellies. Kids get it.
As adults, our lives are filled with lists of things to do and where to go next. Our minds are filled with worry about family and friends, illnesses and job security. Our society clogs our visions of how to look, how to act, how to be. When it is our youngest of children who remind us what it's like to have a free mind, to get on the floor, to just play...to just be. At what point did we forget how to just be? I believe it creeps in slowly...the more we are exposed to in life, the more we get lost in it. It happens. Life happens. It's expected. We can't run from it and hide. We have to learn how to be in it. We have to learn to accept and deal. But it's when we get caught up in it that may throw us for a loop. With the amount that children hear and see from day to day - in schools, on tv, from the mouths of adults - there is no avoiding it. Kids will be exposed to life, but it's the skills that we instill in them to help deal with it all that matter most. It is the learning how to breathe, to relax, to accept the abundance of feelings that our bodies will experience, to deal with them, embrace them, and let go of them. It's the learning how to stay in the moment by remembering how important it truly is. This is when they will learn to sleep more soundly, build confidence, focus better in school, deal with emotions, and accept their ever changing bodies and growth. And if they can hold onto these skills through the teenage years and into adulthood - then there is no telling how amazing the children of today will be, how tall they'll be able stand and rise above whatever comes in their paths.
As I explore the avenue of my own meditation practice, while bringing into the lives of the Alluem Kids, I'm anxious to see how the children will grow with the practice and how it will effect their lives. Thanks to one of the Alluem parents, I'll be attending a lecture at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC next weekend, which will focus on emotional intelligence and the development of children's brains. The lecture will be held on March 27th @ 3:30pm with Linda Lantieri, author of Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in our Children. She will be raising the question - "Can Children Meditate?" My answer...absolutely - and we have a lot to learn from them.