Acquiring better skill to manage my emotional reactivity and finding more balance in my day-to-day is what drew me to meditate.
In the short while that I have practiced, I have felt the benefits of mindfulness, as I have been able to find that space or pause before responding to a situation. (though… still a work in progress.) It became a natural progression to consider how meditation can benefit my family too. My husband has shown strong support and participates occasionally. But a more curious consideration was how to engage my children.
My reality is that my 2 young boys present on the autism spectrum. They are amazing boys and I love them dearly. As I accept this aspect of their personalities, it is incredibly frustrating when I cannot understand what makes them ‘tick’. They feel this too. Their behavior is consistently inconsistent and requires constant vigilance, causing stress and emotions to run high in our family.
I have come across a good amount of information surrounding children and meditation but wondered if my boys, whose sensory perceptions are different, could tolerate the attention required to sit. I am happy to report, ‘hearing meditation’ hit a mark with them. Granted, they are only ages 5 and 8, so I was not aiming for much, but it is truly astonishing how they tune in to sound.
This past summer, I took them outside and asked them to close their eyes and just listen to the sounds they heard.
“Do you hear the wind blowing through the leaves high up in the tree… do you hear the buzz of cicadas over there… how about that noisy truck rumbling down the street?”
At night, adapted from a family meditation session, I tap a bell (okay, its a fisher-price xylophone) and ask the boys to listen closely and count the number of taps they hear.
It is quite remarkable to see them quiet their hyperactive bodies so that they can hear better. It is a joy and relief to watch the calm wash over as they try to listen to the sounds around them. Their focus may last anywhere from 0-5 minutes, but it is a start.
There are plenty of moments spent planning and worrying for their futures. For now, we connect and listen to the songs of the birds, as I add another method to my toolkit.
A further note: my son’s school received a grant to teach mindfulness in the classroom. It is encouraging to know he gets access to this power all day long.