August - September 2018 Connect Magazine Article.
YOU SEE ALL I NEED'S A WHISPER IN A WORLD THAT ONLY SHOUTS - Passenger
What do you think when you hear ADHD?
I recently did a literary review on ADHD (read it here) and surprisingly I kept being drawn back to screen-time and meditation. It lead me to thinking about society and whether it’s even possible to get our children to meditate in a world that is running rampant with technology and ADHD.
It seems that we are using technology as a tool to get children focused on one point. There is a growing social trend towards ‘calming’ or sedating our children with technology. But what if we can create pathways for them to become calm and relaxed through the same practices that we, as grown-ups, spend decades trying to bring ourselves back to?
Looking back on one of the first circus skills workshops I ran I remember the parents coming to collect their children at the end of the session just after we had finished a short five minute visualization. More than half of the parents commented on how “relaxed”, “calm” and “blissed out” their kids were.
You may have heard the Dalai Lama’s quote: “If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
Imagine sitting down with your child(ren) on your mat, in your meditation space, or outside in nature. Imagine them drawing you towards the space, there you sit together, taking breaths, focusing inwards, sharing this time and space together. It may be for a minute or for twenty but time is irrelevant.
As a yoga instructor I find that mums and dads often come to classes to “get away” from the family or to “have some quiet time”; these interactions bring me back to my early beliefs about yoga, long before I knew what the eight limbs of yoga were or even that there was more to it than asana I felt drawn to seeing and living life more thoughtfully, more tantrically. At eighteen, when I first started my awkward, self-guided, asana practice I felt that it was weird to get on a mat, do some ‘moves’ and then go back to the everyday anxiety, it felt great for that 20 minutes but then I felt like I hadn’t really changed my life or grown. After a while I realised that you needed to breathe as you moved and then I connected the feeling of being on the mat, moving and breathing to that which I felt when I sat somewhere quiet and read a book.
I always believed that “I [couldn’t] meditate”, and it wasn’t until I met a psychologist a few years later who encouraged me to meditate as therapy that I began connecting the dots. I could meditate; I had been unconsciously meditating since I was five years old and used to take a book and sit in a dark corner, alone, and read myself to another dimension.
We have three mats permanently set up at home, each morning we do our sun salutations together, then allow our daughter to guide some more stretches.
From birth I have been taking three deep breaths with her on my chest and belly, especially when things are tough for one or all of us, it helps me to reset and I know that it is all being absorbed by her.
Meditation comes in many forms, we can make it fun for the whole family, and the easiest way to do this is to follow their lead, each child is born with an innate sense of curiosity about the world and a love of learning. When we connect in with them and allow them to guide us, well, that is when the magic happens.
Next time you are near one of your family members, take a moment, stop, take three deep, slow breaths and connect in with them; younger children and babies know so well how to use their bodies and you can often find yoga poses in their movements, roll out a mat and copy them, laugh with them, get down on their level, be them; it’s so much fun! As our children get older they find their own ways to calm their minds and to move their bodies; pre-school and young school-aged children will tumble, run, bounce and jump, as they get older we often see them engaging in sports too. Teenagers will most commonly put on their favourite song loud and express through that. So often though, this is when we see the bigger signs of disconnection from their bodies and the deterioration of mental health. Let’s get in before this and keep them connected to their bodies and minds. Let us allow them to guide us to support them in following what feels good for them. Let us parent peacefully.