Bringing the Monthly Theme of Attention Home
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
At our last parent/caretaker support group I shared that much of the RE sessions this month are about learning and practicing mindfulness as a way of paying attention. I asked the parents/caretakers there if they had any mindfulness or meditation practices they used as a family at home. …crickets….no one had a response – at first.
We agreed that it’s hard to say to your children, “Time to meditate!”, because then the eyerolls start.
I shared that I didn’t do much with mediation with my own children when they were young, but I did teach them some basics of non-violent communication I had learned. (Check out How to Talk So Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk) and that I did occasionally get a phone call from one of my grown children, while she was on a break from work requesting some coaching on NVC to deal with her boss and co-workers.
Then others in the group reflected and realized that they actually do have meditative strategies to help their children pause and take a breath. And they began to share. One uses the Calm and Insight Timer apps for meditations for children at bedtime. Someone models taking a few deep breaths before starting the car, because she is so breathless after rushing to get everyone out the door and she wants take a moment to center herself so she can drive safely. Others talked about how they urge their children, even toddlers (especially toddlers), to simply take a few deep breaths when they are upset. The group appreciated hearing that you can explain to your children that they are not their thoughts. Everyone can choose your thoughts. One way to do that is to think of your of thoughts as pieces of cloth on a clothesline. And you can choose for yourself which ones you want to take down and which you want to leave hanging. Someone else said that they put up a white board in their child’s room and to the parent’s surprise, their child wrote thoughtful reflections. Many of us pause before dinner to offer thanks or to share a “thorn” (sad or disappointing event) and a “rose” (happy, successful event) of their day. Several among us are learning about “tapping therapy” http://www.tappingtherapy.com/ to connect with the body and emotions. Parents/caretakers may be interested in a Buddhist Sangha which is planning to meet at Albany UU; they plan to have activities for children as well as adults. Their website is under construction, but you can follow their progress on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/albanybuddhist. Many Albany UU Parent/caretakers have been using the Soulful Home monthly packets on the theme of the month. These packets give UU families thoughtful activities for different contact times of the day including dinner, bed time, and drive times. You can find printed packets at the RE Office and on the shelves on the second floor and basement hallways; electronic copies are at the members site of Albany UU. Contact the office for instructions to get to this site email@example.com Each month I also create a one-page publication called The Monthly Messenger that gives a summary of the service and story each week, and a focus question and practice for adults and families to reflect on and embody the weekly message. You can also find these in the RE Office Window and shelves on the second floor and basement hallways.
Those of us at the parent/caretaker support group agreed that there are many ways to help children be mindful. I hope you join us on our journey on Attention this month and enjoy exploring new ways to pay attention to what is before us: attention to our inner self; attention to needs beyond our own; attention to the now; and attention to beauty around us.
In joyful service,