Sifu Ed Monaghan, martial artist and UCLA Professor, had been talking about the value of meditation to his class of 13-16 year olds at Ekata Training Center.
I asked the kids, “Have you ever seen anyone on a boat when it’s windy?” All had seen boats rocking on the water. I asked, “Can you see things on the surface of the ocean – like boats, oil rigs, birds, etc.?” They replied in the affirmative.
Then I asked if they ever saw “Shark Week” on TV? Most of them had. I said, “Is there a lot of life and action under water that we can’t see from the surface?” Again they agreed.
I said, “The ocean is like our minds. The waves are like our thoughts jostling us around. We see and are very concerned with the stuff that we can see on the surface, but there is so much more underneath. When we meditate, we learn to calm the waves and look below the surface. Our mind is like a drop of water, and the ocean is like universal consciousness. Our mind is a part of that consciousness just like the drop of water is a part of the ocean. They are inseparable. But we need meditation to help us see beyond the surface.”
Eastern tradition unites with Western tradition in understanding that there is inner life below the surface of what we see with our physical eyes.
Children seek a firm footing in this inner life and they enter into it differently.
- One 6-year-old girl says, “Mindfulness has been my favorite thing in my whole life…when I’m mad, sad or frustrated.”
- A man told me that he remembers weeding in his front yard and talking to Jesus: “I’ve heard about you–that you’re good–and I want you to be part of my life.”
- Thinking back on her childhood, a woman states, “I always had a clear sense that God is there. Sometimes he seemed distant or like he doesn’t like me, but I’ve always felt that he was there watching.”
When we notice signs of their interest, and enter their world with them, most children are grateful for our attention to their inner life.
Tweetable: An idea for how to discuss the personal yet universal colors and shadings of a child’s inner life? Click to Tweet