|"How do I teach my child to meditate? How do I share my spirituality with my children? My child has no interest in guided meditations and prayer. Is he not spiritual?"
These kinds of questions are often asked by parents who have discovered a spiritual path for themselves. Believing that we are spiritual beings who have a body, parents want their children to grow up tuning into that inner reality. However, lacking models for how to nurture spirituality in children, most parents are at a loss when it comes to how to inspire children to express that side of themselves. Yet childhood, when the heart is so open to love and inspiration, is the perfect time to affirm the child's soul-nature and help him tune into a higher reality.
In this column I will share simple ideas that I and parents and other teachers in the Living Wisdom schools have tried and found successful in helping children have spiritual experiences.
One of the principal reasons that parents give up on being able to share their spiritual paths with their children is that they do not know how to work with their children's energy to help them be calm and focused enough to listen inside. We have to choose the right moment to try a new and intensely focused activity.
Think of it this way: If someone were going to give you a precious pearl ring, would you be able to receive it in the right spirit if you were watching the news, complaining about your difficulties at work, or driving in a traffic jam? Or would you prefer that the giver choose a moment when you were quiet, centered, and receptive?
When we teach our children that they have resources within, that Divine Mother is everywhere and available to us, we are giving them precious pearls. So in each of these columns I will not only give you an activity to try with your child which will help her tune into Spirit, I will also give you a practical way to help your child relax and focus, becoming receptive to the pearls you wish to share.
One of the best times to acknowledge and draw on the presence of the divine in our lives is at bedtime. However, a bedtime that is preceded by a battle to brush teeth or roughhousing is not what I mean. After giving the child a warm, relaxing bath, try sitting on the bed with him and give him a foot massage. Ask him about his day. Tell him about your own. Talk about the people in your lives- relatives, neighbors, and classmates.
As you chat, you will probably remember that some of the people you know are troubled by ill health or other challenges. You can suggest praying for them together. You can tell your child about the scientific studies that show that heart patients recover faster when they are being prayed for, whether they know it or not!
Close your eyes together. Call to mind each person you wish to send healing energy (kids love to pray for their pets too!). You can say something like, "Picture grandma in your mind. Surround her with God's healing light. Visualize beautiful golden light all around her and see her smiling peacefully. Let's rub your hands together and hold them up, visualizing light streaming out from our fingertips and going to grandma and filling her with peace." You can chant Peace, Shanti, Amen or Aum as you send healing energy.
Begin with just one person and only continue to others if your child is enthusiastic and calm. It might take several times for him to get into the flow of it, but in my experience, practically every child enjoys being a channel for sending love to others in this way.
Susan Usha Dermond is a yoga teacher, Director of the Living Wisdom School, and a minister of Ananda Sangha. For more information about Living Wisdom schools please call 503-626-3403.