My two daughters and I have a standard bedtime ritual consisting of jumping on the bed, a bedtime story and each singing their favorite song before they go to sleep. On some nights there’s an additional step – my daughters hide under their comforters and I, pretending to be unaware of their presence, lie down on top – inducing roars of laughter. My daughters love this game and call it the ‘love pile’. I think ‘love pile’ captures the idea of family quite well.
What is family? It means many things – to feel secure and comfortable, to feel loved unconditionally and to share an environment that nourishes body, mind and soul with people who always have time for you. This is in contrast to our rapidly changing world that keeps us busier than ever trying to get ahead. Not to mention the continual bombardment of information – forcing us to make, save and delete choices every minute. It leaves me wondering if our obsession with the next bit of information isn’t making us more anxious, distracted, lonely and even sad.
It seems that our ‘family’, the nucleus of love, harmony and stability should be growing ever more important and finding a simple way to enhance and stabilize that nucleus is invaluable.
So, how do we balance these opposite poles of our existence?
My wife and I started a practice of heart-centered meditation about ten years ago. It has turned out to be the most rewarding and wonder-filled journey, one that has enriched our individual lives as well as our family beyond our expectations.
We have found that the practice of meditation creates a peaceful connection inside – very near and always accessible. The ability to create this feeling daily was invigorating. By practicing daily there’s been a shift in the atmosphere, it feels like lightness and simplicity permeate our home.
But the real surprise has been how the heart itself has become a source of guidance. We now make decisions, not by tiring ourselves out by bouncing the pros and cons in our head, but through introspection – waiting for the answer to emerge from inside – and it does.
My meditation practice has slowly transformed me from a slave of time schedules to someone who is more relaxed. I now make time for the small things and that’s extremely fulfilling. Life choices are easier as well and we find that regardless of the circumstances, my wife and I remain cheerful, and that brings continuity to our daily family life.
It has been heartwarming for us to see how the effects of our meditation have influenced our two young daughters, now 7 and 3. For their age, they are very sensitive and show a delicate appreciation of others’ feelings. There was an incident a couple of years ago that made a deep impact on us. The family was waiting to board an international flight. It was 2AM and everyone was really tired. A child nearby was crying loudly. While this was disturbing to others, our older daughter went straight into her bag, took out some toy cars, and after a few attempts, was able to get the child to calm down and play with her.
Both our daughters have shown a surprising emotional maturity and security for their age. Even my younger daughter’s teachers were touched by her efforts to comfort the other children who were still adjusting to the transition of being away from their parents for the first time. We have been pleasantly surprised by their clarity of expression and openness when interacting with people.
My wife and I are convinced that the atmosphere created in our home by the practice of meditation has in no small measure contributed to our entire families’ growth. We have observed the same thing in our friends’ families who meditate as well.
I feel confident that everyone can experience the benefits of a calm and centered mind through meditation.
Is it the panacea for a better world? I hope so.