Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wake Up Call From My 3-Year-Old Student

A student of life is what I am. I remember my geography teacher in high school telling us the saying: the more you know, the more you don't know. I certainly feel that way about pretty much anything. Back in high school, that may of not been true. But thankfully I am old enough to know that life is very complicated. Not only complicated, but it changes.

Parenting two kids full-time has taught me a lot. Certainly made me more aware of how quickly things change. Now raising my second child, I know that if I don't like a phase, then not to worry, it will change - sometimes not as fast as I would like. (When will my little miss stop making a huge mess of herself and the floor at every.stinking.meal! Ugh!)

Full-time parenting has also made me a bit sloppy in the head. Trying to stay mindful all day long while entertaining, teaching and providing for two young kids can be SO.DARN.BORING. My mind likes to check out (or run over to Facebook). That is, if I am not being interrupted. (Can you give me a minute please sweetie, I have a thought and I am writing it down. Thank you.) But I am not complaining, because "soon enough" they will be both in school.

With a sloppy mind, it is very easy for me to forget things, and many times I do not realize the obvious. It is no surprise that my kids teach me a lot because they are so much more enthralled and alive with life throughout the day. They pick up everything, where as, I feel like I am just going through the motions some days. (Especially before 10am).

Grabbing our "Monkey Minds"

Over the last couple months, I have started to get more serious about teaching kids yoga. I've had the absolute pleasure of having one particular little girl named Rosie in my class a few times who is 3.5-years-old. Her mom has been telling me since the first day I taught her, that Rosie particularly loved the mantra we learned in class.

The mantra goes like this: Near the end of class, we repeat: I am happy. I am well. Many times until it becomes a part of us. Then we change it to another emotion of their choosing, like I am sad, but I am well. And do several other emotions. We learn that emotions are like clouds passing in the sky. They change constantly. But no matter how emotional we get, we are always safe and well deep inside.

Perceptive little Rosie has been using the mantra in her life as a way to comfort herself in times when she is scared. Like when she was nervous about joining a dance class, repeating I am scared, but I am well helped her get her courage up to move forward a few steps into class. Or as a tool for self-reflection and self-awareness, for example while riding home from a busy day she could reflect on all the different emotions she and her family felt that day.

But when her mom told me she was using it even to help her feel better when she was itchy from the mosquito bites, I am itchy but I am well, I had to exclaim, "that is brilliant! I need to do that!"

You see, our family just got back from camping for over a week in the bush. I not only had lots of bug bites, but a mild case of poison ivy and poison oak turned bad and spread everywhere after I scratched it. My whole body was in a constant state of itch and I was NOT WELL.

But darn it, if Rosie could do it, I could do it. And why wasn't I saying this mantra more in my life? It is very helpful, and yet here I am not doing it in my life at all. Geez, I am the one who made it up! Suddenly, I am feeling like such a pathetic teacher. You know, the one who is all talk and no action. Do as I say, not as I do. I am sure I am that parent in many cases too.

Teaching how yoga helps sharpen your mind

It is really a wake up call for me as a teacher. 

I feel like I have been coasting on the spirituality, wisdom  and lessons learned in life and my practices before I became a parent. That means, for five years now, I feel like I have been coasting on my past merits!

Mind-o-mush and lazy ways begone! Enter more diligent mindfulness, more yoga and meditation practices, and practicing what I preach!

I've needed this wake up call for quite some time. Funny, after so many years of teaching adults, it only took a few months of teaching kids to get this wake up call! Thanks to the perceptive, precocious little Rosie!

It also reaffirms my belief that yoga is so powerful to children if you can just suck em in and get them to open up to it even for an instance.

And it restores my faith in yoga as a way to help kids find more peace in their lives. Like the saying goes, if you give a man a fish....

If you tell a child to be quiet, there may be peace for minutes 
But if you teach that child some yoga, they may find a way toward inner peace for life.


P.S. I am still itchy, but I am well.

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