Meditating with a Monkey

My kid is busy.

No, I am not talking about the over-scheduled variety of busy that so many people seem to have an affliction for these days. Rather, I am referring to his mental and physical state.

He was born this way. Rolling at three months, crawling at six, walking at nine… always spurred on by his innate curiosity, fearlessness, and independence. He loves, loves, loves his stimulation. The more he can get, the happier he is. Which ultimately is great. In life, this will serve him.

On the other hand, it is my job as his parent to offer him opportunities to learn to be still. There is much peace and wisdom to be gleaned from stillness. I have no desire to deny him these things. And perhaps, if we all taught our children to meditate, the world would be a much kinder, gentler place.

A mother can dream.

So, we’ve been meditating.

At first, we settled into the warmth of our basement and listened to Deepak. Which was lovely, especially for me, but it wasn’t exactly age-appropriate for my five-year-old. All the same, our first kick-at-the-can actually went pretty well. The novelty of the situation was reinforcing. As I sat across from my son, I overheard the following:

“So. Hum. So. Hum. So. Hum.”

“Mommy! MOMMY! Rolly (our dog) is meditating, too!”

“Mommy! Can you meditate lying down?”

“Mommy! Can I open my eyes while I meditate?”

“Mommy! Can I be done precipitating?”

“Mommy! I’m just gonna have a little sleep now.”

“HISSSSSSSSSSSSSS.” (This one, courtesy of the cat, who was not impressed when the kid gave up on sleeping in exchange for stalking.)

It was a start.

Prior to our second attempt, I made a point of discussing some etiquette. I encouraged him to remain seated the entire time. (Right.) And I suggested that he maybe try NOT to talk to me, as that might help him to move inward. I encouraged him to recite his mantra to himself. In his head. Because this makes a whole tonne of sense to a five-year-old boy who outwardly talks to himself all of the time, yes? (No. What was I thinking?) Finally, I asked him not to touch me. (Big mistake. Big. Huge.)

I should have video-taped our second attempt. That way I could just show you the nose-to-nose, feet-in-my-face, flying-ninja antics that took place as I quietly went about my lead-by-example attempt at inspiring solitude. Alas, you are left with these brief words and your own imagination.

This was our after-breakfast, morning routine for 5 or 6 days before life picked up speed, once again. (These things happen.) One afternoon, during our daily dog-walk excursion, my son comes to a screeching halt:

Boy: (Gasp!) “OH, NO!”

Mum: (Insert frantic panic here.) “What! What’s wrong? Tell me!”

Boy: Mommy! We. (The shock!) Forgot. (The horror!) To meditate. (He was SO disappointed. Who knew such a thing was possible?)

Mum: Oh, Buddy! It’s okay. No need to panic. We’ll squeeze it in.

Though we didn’t because I was beginning to feel somewhat frustrated. Not with my son, but with myself. Time to regroup.

After percolating on the matter for a few weeks and speaking to a few of the other preschool mums, I decided to abandon the daily ritual in favour of a more natural, lets-make-this-happen-when-it-makes-sense approach. What I mean by that is this:

  1. The boy won’t can’t meditate when he’s a burning ball of energy. He must first explode.
  2. If meditation feels stressful, which at times it did, it’s not really a meditation, now is it? (Duh.)
  3. There will be a progression. It will be slow. That is okay.
  4. Make it fun. Age-appropriate. Well within his grasp of understanding.
  5. Remember to breathe. If not for yourself, then for him. Allow the natural propensity for your lungs to sync with his, to guide the process. It worked when he was an infant; even more so in utero. It will work now.

After a lunch meeting not too long ago, I popped into my favourite local bookstore to peruse my options. I left with my hope restored and the following stash of resources:

  1. Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean
  2. Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean
  3. Starbright: Meditations for Children by Maureen Garth
  4. Indigo Dreams: Relaxation by Lori Lite

The illustrated story books by Kerry Lee MacLean have proven exceptionally useful. We read them before we settle into meditation, as this helps the monkey to calm himself and focus his attention. We then listen to one of the stories from Indigo Dreams. (One night we even managed to talk my husband into joining us. Holy Manifesting-Miracles Batman!)

But… my hands-down, by-a-landslide favourite is the book by Maureen Garth. After reading bedtime stories, as we would usually do, I tuck my son in for the night and encourage him to listen to my words as I read to him from this gem of a book. Each time, we begin with ‘The Star Prelude’ and then proceed with one of the other ‘stories’ in the book. Genius. I LOVE it. And so does my son.

Not only has he asked me to elaborate on various details from the stories, wanting very much to hear more, but the morning after experiencing our very first meditation from this book, he took the initiative to tell me that he had a “great sleep.” The impact of this statement will not be lost on those of you who know my son’s violent sleep tendencies (i.e. lots of thrashing, calling out, and at times, screaming, etc.)

There is definitely something to this.

Yes. He continues to struggle (at times – not always) to sit still. He is a little boy, after all, and this kind of self-mastery can take a lifetime to achieve. He’s lucky to be off to an early start.

Namaste, my friends! If you have other ideas, suggestions, or a willingness to share, please comment below. It would be LOVELY to hear from you… :)

Comments

SamiJoe
Reply

My guy meditates at Karate class and it is always fun to watch him sit, eyes closed, breathing and thinking – whatever it is he thinks – all to himself. I think meditation is a useful way of calming ones soul… definitely an exercise just as important as ‘exercise’.

Thanks for the book suggestions.

rosemary
Reply

I loved this post. Laughed right out loud (LOL). You have a mover and groover for sure–walking at 9 months. I wish someone had helped me learn to sit still and be calm when I was a small person. All I got was, “Children are to be seen, not heard.” “Sit still–the whole house is shaking because of you!” Now, I spend time in prayer and reading. Meditation seems too open-ended for me. Still, I have learned to sit still. :)
Does “permalink” mean I’m following you? I don’t want to loose this link.

Tracey Ast
Reply

Hi Rosemary,

To answer your question: no. The permalink will do you no good. But, I shuffled things around a bit and you should hopefully be able to follow my blog via Networked Blogs now. Here’s hoping! T>

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