My introduction to mindfulness meditation came through the mail. I opened a package from the Library Journal offices in New York to find my latest review assignment: Mindful Motherhood by Cassandra Vieten. I was only vaguely familiar with meditation, and the word “mindfulness” was new to me. This was my perfect introduction to these ideas because it was very secular and scientific, which helped me to have an open mind. It was nearly two years ago that I reviewed Mindful Motherhood, and I have yet to really embrace a meditation practice, though I have found the principle of mindfulness–the definition repeated throughout the book is “awareness of the moment without judging it as good or bad”–to be extremely helpful.
This weekend my family went to an open house at Moe Body Works to support a friend who is a yoga and meditation teacher there. In addition to snacks and tea, the open house featured several demonstrations of some of the services offered at Moe Body Works. We didn’t get there early enough for the intro to Qigong, but the Acro-Yoga demo was very, very cool. As one of the yoga teachers was “flying” upside-down, Ladybug whispered to me, “This is cool.”
Later, the meditation primer was probably less “cool” to her, but we really enjoyed it. First we experienced two minutes of silence. The time went fast, and Ladybug was mostly quiet during it, which helped us have confidence that she could handle being there with us during the primer. Next we spent five minutes in silent meditation. This was significantly more challenging. Ladybug spent about a minute sitting quietly in position then she built a pattern with the orange sitting pillows that weren’t being used. It was a long five minutes, but I’m really glad we all experienced it. For one thing, my partner and I have a renewed sense of wanting to make a meditation practice part of our lives. For another, I liked that Ladybug was there to see us modeling meditation for her and even to participate as she was able.
It reminded me of the Montessori “Silence Game,” which challenges children to stay quiet until their names are called as a way of teaching self discipline and awareness to children ages 2 to 6. How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way says, “At first, younger children may not be able to remain still and silent for more than 30 seconds, but gradually they will develop the ability to relax, listen, and appreciate the silence.” I think this will be a good place for us to start.
When we got home, I picked Susan K. Greenland’s The Mindful Child off my shelf. I’d read it some months ago but I hadn’t tried any of the activities/meditations with Ladybug,. The book encourages parents to start using the principles of mindfulness even with preschoolers to help them “connect to themselves (who do I feel? think? see?) to others (what do they feel? think? see?), and maybe to something greater than themselves.” Sounds like it’s right in line with the principles of sensory awareness in Montessori education. Actually, several of the activities in The Mindful Child work as variations of Montessori activities (sorting dried beans with a blindfold, for example). What I really like about Greenland’s book, though, is the flexibility. She writes, “practice what is true for you.” That may include art or movement or music. And that’s okay. Just keep practicing. Sounds like something a mom would say.