Family Meditation Practice Introduction
“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy”
The main purpose of a family meditation program is to cultivate unity within the family. As a family we are united in mission and purpose. To be united means that we care for each other; we help each other; we protect each other; we look out for each other; and we love each other. As parents we put the needs of our children above our needs and we put the needs of our family above our individual needs.
Family meditation helps us to internalize our family values. The values of love teach us to care for others. Caring for others is the beginning of the development of unity consciousness.The values of patience teach us to take time in our interactions with our environment. When we take time we give way to the forces of fulfillment to work in our favor. The values of honesty teach us to be straightforward with our environment. When we are straightforward we are truthful in our dealings. The values of work teach us to contribute to the good of society. Work enables us to use our talents for the good of all creatures and at the same time helps us to take care of our own needs. The values of cooperation help us to work together with others for the accomplishment of worthwhile purposes. Cooperating with others brings out the best in us that serves as the missing link in a group effort. The values of generosity teach us to give without expecting anything in return. When we are generous with our time, talents and wealth we attract similar efforts from our environment for our good. These values are necessary not only for the growth and stability of our families but also for the growth and stability of society in general.
Family meditation also helps us to develop peace of mind. Raising children could sometimes be a daunting task but through daily meditation and disclosure we could reduce the stress of parenting. Meditation calms us down and helps us to be realistic with our environment. It helps children to divert their attention from the demands of life and focus on worthwhile endeavors. This diversion could be a tonic for their peace of mind and well being. Peace of mind as you would expect is necessary to excel in school since they would be able to concentrate in class and do their homework. Disclosure as mentioned above helps the parent to tune into the life of the child in school and in day care. Children like to talk about their day and do not hesitate to include disclosure in your meditation schedule for the family. In this way you could detect potential problems before they materialize. These problems could be drug use, bullies and similar issues in the life of your child.
A typical family meditation session could begin around 8:00 PM in a room like the living room or any other room. You may use meditation mats or cushions and sit facing the North or the East. Sitting facing the North aligns you with the earth’s magnetic field and sitting facing the East places you in the direction of the rising sun. You may also sit in a circle or semi circle depending on whether it is an individual meditation or group meditation. In an individual meditation each meditates on an assigned subject according to the person’s preference. In a group meditation each follows a guided pattern of meditation. You may begin with a breathing exercise for about 5 minutes before beginning the meditation. Breathing helps to foster the state of mind necessary for meditation. Your meditation could be for about 5 minutes initially and gradually increase the duration as the family becomes more comfortable.
It is healthy to serve tea at the end of your meditation as a treat for the family. Let an adult make the tea. The children may take turns to serve tea to each member. When choosing tea for your enjoyment after meditation, consider tea with health benefits like green tea. Green tea is said to help in boosting the immune system, regulating cholesterol levels, fighting the build-up of sticky plaque in the arteries, interfering with the cancer process, assisting in weight loss, fighting harmful bacteria and viruses, protecting the body against free radical damage, etc. For all these benefits it is worth serving green tea and raising your children to make healthy choices for their tea needs.
Make individual disclosure a part of your meditation program. This is a proactive way of finding out what is going on in your child’s life when you are not there. Let them talk about their day with respect to their classmates, teachers and friends. Ask them what they did at school or in the day care. Find out about their relationship with their friends and their teachers. Find out if there are any bullies in their class. If there are bullies what is the school doing about them. Follow up with the teacher or principal immediately. Drug use, peer pressure and discrimination are some other areas to be concerned with your child’s education and well-being.
Let the children first take turns to share what happened to them in school. If they go straight to the day care after school let them also talk about what happened at the day care. There should be complete silence as soon as sharing begins. Parents should pay particular attention to each child as he or she recounts what happened. Do not interrupt the presentation. Ask questions after each presentation. Parents should also share their day at work or wherever they went and what they did during the day. Encourage the children to also ask questions after each disclosure session.
You may use part of the meditation period to make presentations on books you read during the week. You could also observe family reading time on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Family reading is when the whole family reads for about 30 minutes. Set a family reading goal. For instance each member of the family may finish reading a book of about 100 pages every week. Encourage the family by rewarding those who meet this goal. A family award certificate, a treat at your son’s or daughter’s favorite restaurant, or a “well done” card are some of the ways to reward anyone who meets his or her goal.
Further you may also use the period after meditation to draft, update or reconsider your family rules. Family rules are important to the family and should be a visible part of the family. Every family member should have a copy. While family rules are important lack of enforcement for violations will seem as if you have no rules at all. For an effective rule let all members of the family including the children to make the rules and the children should also take part in the enforcement. Enforcement could be a dollar for each violation and the proceeds donated to a non-profit organization such as a homeless shelter or animal rescue center at the end of the year.
Lastly we cannot overlook the importance of food even in a program of meditation. According to the Bhagavad Gita (Bhagavad Gita 6:16-17): Meditation is not for him who eats too much, nor for him who eats not at all; nor for him who is overmuch addicted to sleep, nor for him who is always awake. But for him who regulates his food and recreation, who is balanced in action, in sleeping and in waking, it shall dispel all unhappiness.