The world is a hard place to take right now; just watching the evening news can be an emotionally draining experience. As a new mom, I wonder how I can keep my son safe.
I know that my questions have been faced by countless other parents. How can I help him grow up strong and steady, with a sense of internal peace and confidence? What can I do to make sure he knows he is the ocean and not the waves? And how can I imbue in him the skills to act righteously, lead confidently, connect empathically and stay rock-solid in a place of self-love, whatever challenges life presents to him?
While voices of reason paraphrase Gandhi’s urging to “be the change” and encourage us to mold the world through our behavior, the reality is that in order for our children to be righteous, confident, empathic and full of self-love, we need to teach them to be so. If they are going to operate from a rock-solid foundation in the face of challenges, we have an obligation to give them the tools to build that foundation.
Part of that process, researchers are finding, begins with honoring and cultivating creativity in adults and children alike. Julia Cameron, author of the internationally bestselling book The Artist’s Way, has given us a new resource: The Artist’s Way for Parents: Raising Creative Children. In it, she explains that because we are role models for our children, how we relate to ourselves as creative beings sends a message to them about their own creativity.
Another avenue for foundation-building involves integrating mindfulness into our education system. At The Lotus School of Liberal Arts, in Ottsville, students enjoy moments of silence after class to allow them to be completely present for the experience. They reflect on what was said, what they learned and how they felt, allowing them a more relaxed, deeper learning opportunity. You can read more about it in our article “The Mindful Classroom.” We can build this slowing down and paying attention into more curriculums, helping students decompress and combat the harried, hurry-up mentality that dominates our culture and sometimes keeps us from acting (and reacting) as our best selves.
If mindfulness is not currently part of our children’s school experience, we, as parents, can help them build mindfulness into their daily routines, teaching them to take short mental breaks to “mini-meditate” throughout the day. We can also pay closer attention and more readily recognize when children need more support. One such scenario is outlined in our article “School Daze,” which offers helpful tips for guiding children (regardless of age) as they navigate the emotional terrain of going back to school during a difficult family transition.
As back-to-school time approaches, even we adults get the urge to sharpen our pencils and learn something new. Let’s remain open to opportunities that help us become more centered and grounded. We can then help the young people in our lives learn to do the same. May your learning process bring you not only knowledge, but also wisdom and growth. That’s what will help us all make this world a better place for the next generation.
With you in Awakening,
Karen G. Meshkov