Friday, November 21, 2008

For city kids... or anyone into happy children, school runs and yoga

This morning Jemima and I walked to school, dodging dead rats, motorbikes and Hum Vs (really, the tanks in PP have to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately the drivers inside them cannot see the rest of us mortals, especially small children), and stumbling on and off pavements that come abruptly to an end the minute we pass each brand new, gated-home development. Only very rich people get to have pavements outside their homes in Cambodia.

If you lose concentration, when walking on these rare and blessed safe islands, you will find yourself suddenly flat on your face as the paths inevitably end in a huge pile of abandoned rubble on the borders of the new construction. A pile of rubble which will gradually become littered with refuse, plastic bags, rotting food, a pile of rubble and rubbish that will never be removed. At least not until some one decides to build another posh tower block in its place. It’s fun honestly, our walk to school. Better if you go early to avoid the scorching sun, oh, and probably best to avoid taking a bag so that you do not become one of the poor souls to be robbed by a passing motodup as is now reported to happen at least twice weekly on our street, but still fun, really. A little prayer of protection is always helpful too. Or, as Jemima taught me today, a guided visualisation. Really, children have all the answers.

As the noise of cutting metal from the various new building projects rang in our ears, Jemima announced that we were pretending we lived on a beach. Lazy Beach to be precise, on the island we visited two weeks ago. This island has no shops, no people, nothing, just some bungalows and a restaurant. So as we walked Jemima led me through this beautiful pretend land where we would walk to school along the beach. The road was the sea, so we could splash in the water whenever we got stranded at the end of our pavements, and the Tuk-Tuks were fishing boats, whose drivers we were ordering our fish from, fresh for dinner that evening. Every so often one of us tripped up on a friendly crab, or an empty coconut shell fallen from one of the palms that fringed the white sands. Best of all, we could hear nothing but the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore, the call of the birds in the trees, and breeze in the trees.

On my way home I continued to imagine that I was in this beautiful peaceful scene and decided I would tell my yoga class about it. After all, one of the relaxations we do together is almost exactly the same. And I did tell them, to remind them that we too can reach within and find what it is we need to keep us strong and happy and healthy and whole, from within our own body, mind and consciousness, just as children do, even if we think we have forgotten how, or if over time we have lost touch with that inner wisdom.

The beauty of yoga is that it gives us tools to use in our every day lives to help us tap into our inner resources. Resources that children can conjure up easily, being so much more connected and responsive to the messages of their bodies and intuition. They are such pure souls, sensitive and close to whatever we like to call that bigger energy out there... universal consciousness, cosmic energy, God, infinity...

And the beauty of children is that they remind us and teach us every day a little more about ourselves and our own potential for growth and awareness. Normally we sing a meditation on the way to school, one of Jemima’s favourites. I’ll give it to you below. I love the fact that today Jemima found her own way to forget the city and take us to a happier, more peaceful place, where we both found ourselves filled with a wonderful sense of well-being. Bliss.

Two kids meditations
I am the light of my soul, I am beautiful, I am bountiful, I am bliss, I am I am. I wish I could sing it for you, though you could always find the tune on a website like I imagine.

Her other favourite meditation served her well earlier this morning, before breakfast. Jemima and I were up early because of her cough and she seemed very grumpy. I asked her if she was ok and she said: “I thought I would be happy today but I’m not”! Neither she nor I could think of anything that might be making her feel sad, so I asked her if she wanted to do the ‘I am happy’ meditation. Of course she did not because that is the last thing anyone feels like saying when they are not happy! So I asked her to remind me how it went because I could not remember. And off she went:

“I am happy! I am good! I am happy! I am good! Sat Nam Sat Nam Sat Nam Ji! Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Ji!”
Over and over she said it until she was laughing and back to her normal self. Yey if only parenting were always this easy! If you do this meditation with your kids, sit in easy pose, crossed legs, and hold hands out in fists with index fingers pointing out in front of your heart. As you chant you wag your fingers up and down as though telling someone off, to the rhythm. Sat Nam becomes more like SataNam.

Have a wonderful weekend all.

If you liked this, have a read of this: lovely yoga and meditation for kids.

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