Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Presence: the gifts of spiritual practice

For the past two weeks in religious education we have explored spiritual practices with our elementary- aged children. We practiced yoga with postures, breathing and meditation. We worked with labyrinths and snow globes! Last Sunday the children heard a story for Advent and created Advent wreaths to bring home. They learned a song to sing as they light a candle each week.

Spiritual practice take time. And the beauty is, when we slow down, when we practice slowing down, other things in our lives become more manageable. Time becomes a little more spacious. Spiritual practices can help to anchor us in trying times. They can help us slow down and focus on what is truly important. Spiritual practices center us and allow us to be of greater service to the world. They allow us to better live out our values.  

Practicing with your child/children can be a way to build and sustain a life-affirming habit. Make a habit of it when things are going well and it will be there for you when things are not. Cultivating spiritual practices with children can be a simple as practicing gratitude daily. Or pausing once during the day, maybe at the end of they day, to consciously breath. The practices and value of breath awareness are well- documented. Simple breathing practices can lead to meditation practices.

Many of us have some time off during this holiday season. Consider making mindful presence, starting a spiritual practice, a present of this season.

Here are some resources if you are interested in reading more. But the most important part is making time for a practice.

Playful Family Yoga, by Teressa Asencia
Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children, by Thich Nhat Hahn.
Anh's Anger, by Gail Silver