A regular practice in my life has been remembering to consciously breathe. Yea, yea I’ve never actually forgotten to take those simple breathes that supply oxygen to my cells – but doing it in a very intentional manner is one of those things that was actually shut down during my childhood.
When I was younger, I clearly remember some of the adults in my life taking big exhales during times of stress, and being the empathic child that I was I quickly absorbed all the “yuck” they were exhaling as if I were an extra absorbant sponge. As one might guess, it didn’t feel so good. I remember at one point making a conscious decision that I would try very hard never to make noise when I breathed so as not to affect others around me.
Fast forward 20 years and I quite frequently found myself feeling my body all locked up, headachy, stiff, unenergized, etc. It took me several years to realize part of why I felt so terrible was because my breaths had turned into shallow inhales, and only when absolutely neccessary. Eventually, I finally made the connection that the decision I had vividly made when I was a child, to take silent breaths, had turned into something so much more. I had completely pushed any consciousness out of the way I was feeding my body what it needs to support not only my cells, but also my spirits’ ability to connect into my physical being.
This is an interesting summary of a transition I seem to be going through lately – I love the analogy:
Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about with its friends. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily, it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.
“Look!” said one of the water bugs to another. “One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you suppose she is going?” Up, up, up it went slowly. Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return. “That’s funny!” said one water bug to another. “Wasn’t she happy here?” asked a second water bug. “Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third. No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. “I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.” “We promise,” they said solemnly.
It’s coming up on my own personal annual holiday, one that I lovingly call “Pull Your Head Out of Your Arse Day”. I decided to recognize this annual day several years ago when I was reflecting on the odd “coincidence” that I happen to of had two car accidents on the same date. The first was when I was in High School and the second one was 7 years later.
In retrospect, I can see they both occurred around times in my life where a major transition was about to occur – but I was wanting things to stay the same and completely ignoring the little signs that I was being given to nudge me in a new direction. So what did I get instead? A big-ole-whammy (of a car accident) that forced me to change; and the fact that I had two incidents where this happened on the exact same date is more than simply coincidence. Perhaps it’s even so that I could be here today, telling you about this holiday of mine.
Meditation doesn’t have to mean something esoteric or be some sort of practice that is out of reach or glossed over by the general public. Just as yoga has gained in popularity amongst the masses, so to can Meditation. It is basically a tool to help bring one back to the moment – free of past or future thoughts. The power of meditation for children is being recognized across the country in schools and other children’s based programs. Fun experiential sessions are being developed for children that teach simple, psychologically empowering, tools to help build a strong inner foundation to support all of life’s challenges and opportunities.
In an example of these sessions, everyday imagery is introduced as something kids can spend time visualizing to facilitate the release of thoughts and emotions that don’t feel good; help to set their energetic and emotional spaces to peace; and to serve as tools to draw upon in situations for proactive, rather than reactive, responses. Ultimately, helping them to gain coping skills, raise self-awareness, and increase personal power in recognizing and handling life’s tests. Another example is the the provision of a set-time each day where children can practice conscious breathing as a way to help them focus the mind on one simple, refreshing, act for themselves.
Meditation can empower children with lifelong skills to: quiet the mind; form practical awareness of how their energy affects others; gain understanding of how outside influences affect their energy and emotions; increase healthy behavioral choices thru reliance on inner resources; grow to maintain individuality yet thrive in groups; learn to stay in, and handle, the present moment with effortlessness; foster peace internally and externally.
Stay tuned for more articles on the progression of, and research into, children’s based meditation programs!