The Practice of Sitting Quietly

Meditation for non-gurus.

I would like to say that I meditate religiously, but I do not. I admit that I try to find some time in each day to “sit in quiet”. Some mornings though I hear my name being yelled and then a child will burst in through the closed bedroom door, mouth open, halfway through a verbal request or inquiry and suddenly stop when they realise I’m sitting cross legged, eyes closed, breathing deeply. On occasion, they have come to join me. They may giggle uncontrollably to cheekily distract me, audibly whispering as they find a comfortable position on the floor. My heart smiles during these moments. It piques their curiosity and in the imitation they are somehow led to experience the tranquility of being in my space.

Apart from crashing my meditation sessions, I have set aside time to guide them through short five to ten minute relaxation journeys. I began ambitiously with plans for weekly sessions and it quickly became another forced commitment driven by me rather than initiated by them. I have forgiven myself for not being able to commit to that ambition and I have forgiven them for moving, fidgeting or getting into strange positions instead of lying flat on their backs limbs outstretched and unmoving. If we are interrupted with snoring as they have fallen into a deep slumber, I will continue to guide their consciousness to the close of the session. There are some moments during our sessions, which are just hilarious. I recall a time when someone kept clearing her throat and at the end of the session, she confessed to trying to get my attention to ask a question but was too afraid to speak.

We practice it when we feel a calling. It is especially helpful during times of elevated stress or anxiety that may cause sleep restlessness or before a presentation, examination or performance. It has introduced an awareness of breathing, that they can instill calmness within themselves or just imagine a “happy place” and be present to that feeling. We may do visualization as part of the session – I may suggest they picture themselves calm, focused and clear minded in preparation for a presentation that they are making to an audience at school the next day. I have allowed them to lead their own visualisation and for children, they may choose to verbalise the pictures in their head aloud – “I am walking through the woods with white flowers, polka dot toadstools, tiny fairies and Hello Kitty … “ It is a wonderful opportunity for them to explore their imagination and for us to reconnect with ours.

I no longer aspire for them to be regular practitioners; instead I have set an intention for them to know meditation, as one of many tools and techniques useful to them as they navigate through life. They are never too young to be reminded of its powers or start practicing. It is not just for bearded gurus in robes seeking enlightenment in the mountains. Neither need you be a guru to lead them.

Prayer is when you talk to God; Meditation is when you listen to God.                                – Diana Robinson

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