The First Awakin Kids (and Parents) Circle
Posted by Somik Raha on Feb 19, 2017
I was wondering what could be a nice introduction to meditation for children, and never could have imagined what Harshida aunty and Dinesh uncle came up with. Aunty called all the children close and said, "This is the gong, and it is going to make a sound like this." As she gently rang the gong, the children sat fascinated around it. She invited the children to listen to the reverberating sound of the bowl, without speaking, until no sound could be heard. Children could keep their eyes closed or open as they preferred. No child spoke during this period!
Just to check how it was received, I later had the following conversation with my daughter Samani and her friend Saanvi:
Me: So, how was meditation for you?
Samani+Saanvi: Oh that was boring.
Me: (surprised) hmm.. what about the ringing bowl?
Samani+Saanvi: That was great! We loved it.
Me: Well, that was meditation for you.
Samani+Saanvi: We liked it a lot. We found your meditation boring (the girls had seen us meditating in the parents' circle). How come you don't do it our way? :)
Dinesh Uncle set the tone for the evening by sharing the following intention, "Our intention is to have the kids experience abundant and unconditional love, manifold, compared to what they experience everyday at home." At home, we shower our kids with love, but there are just two of us parents. What if our kids could receive love from all the parents in the space - what a wonderful experience for them, and how wonderful for us parents to get this opportunity to love all the little ones in the space.
Harshida Aunty shared that the seeds for this circle started when couples who would come to Awakin Circles started having babies. For instance, when Ragu and Nisha, a couple who regularly attended Awakin Santa Clara sits week after week, had their son Om, only one of them could come at a time while the other looked after their son. This inspired Aunty and Uncle to create a space where parents and children could come together in a different format. Aunty shared a profound insight, "The seeds of spirituality cannot be taught, but they can be caught." The intention of this circle is to create a subtle space where children can catch whatever seeds they choose.
After a five-minute meditation that Harshida Aunty led with the Tibetan bowl, we danced to our beloved Nimo's beautiful song Grateful -- a large LCD screen allowed us to see the lyrics and join in. Toward the end of the dance, most parents quietly slipped out into the living room for a parents' circle. After a 15-minute meditation, we reflected on "what questions are we holding on parenting?" What struck me most was how similar our struggles were, and that our children can act as wonderful teachers.
One common thread was echoed by Kozo when he shared, "It takes a village to raise a child." In this day and age, we don't grow up in villages, and Kozo's articulation that our circle felt like a nurturing village for our children found much resonance. Another theme that seemed to be echoed was that we didn't need to look far for unconditional love. Our children, by default, keep giving us unconditional love. They are truly our teachers, and it is up to us to catch that and grow in that. A third theme was around our struggles -- how the tremendous attention that our children shower on us helps us consciously evolve our responses, and inspire us to break unhelpful habit-patterns. A fourth theme was around constantly wondering if we are being good parents -- a circle like this allowed us to deepen our inquiry and support each other. I felt enriched by every single sharing from each parent, and invite them to share at length, either as a comment to this post or as a separate post.
At the close of the parents' circle, we headed back over to the family room to join the children. We then asked each child to share their name and how they were feeling. Pretty much every child who could speak shared that they were feeling good or happy. We could see the wonder at holding a microphone in many a child's face. It is also not often that so many adults are paying attention together to what a child has to say, even if it is just their name. The pre-speech children (tiny tots) stole our hearts as they thought the mic might be food and attempted to lick it. :)
We closed with another Nimo song, Planting Seeds, and here's a little video of the parents and the little ones swaying to the music.
Harshida aunty and Dinesh uncle surprised me again wth another wonderful idea - we asked the parents to sit and then had the little ones serve food to the elders! I was worried if some food might drop, but not only did it go without a hitch, it also felt very special being served by our children.
Heartfelt gratitude to everyone and Dinesh Uncle and Harshida Aunty for offering their space with unconditional love.