Parenting with Spirit part II

Here is my second part of highlights from the book, Parenting with Spirit by Jane Bartlett. I jump all over with the ideas I liked and wanted to take note of, so bare with me & take what you want, with the understanding that there is so much more contained in the rest of her book. This is just a glimpse of goodness!!

“Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.” -Julia Cameron, Artist’s Way

Taken from the book Parenting with Spirit by Jane Bartlett:

ImageHow to add spiritual depth to CREATIVITY:

Encourage your children to take a short moment of calm before they begin their creative pursuit. This may take the form of a little prayer or simple breathing exercise. 

Invite your children to draw a picture or play a piece of music as part of their nighttime prayer ritual. [I think this would be a good daytime prayer activity as well] They could draw a picture of those things that they want to say thank you to God for, or  a picture of those who are in special need of God’s love right now. They could choose to play a piece of music tat sums up the spirit of the day. 

Use your children’s creative work when you hold family rituals. If you are celebrating spring, this is the time to get your children to paint daffodils or whirl around the hours to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.    [I have a picture my daughter drew right now on my fridge that is a piece in ‘perspective’–I look at it and remember to always keep things in ‘perspective’]–

Place your children’s creative achievements somewhere special.This lets your children know that their art is worthy of this very special place in the home, and helps them make the connection between their creative life and worship.

Encourage your children to express their feelings about nature. When you go to the park or out into the countryside, take art materials with you so your children can express their experience of nature through images or words.  

[I have been drawn to Andy Goldsworthy’s art lately—he has such a way of using rocks, colorful leaves, space, twigs, etc to create amazing pieces of art from nature. You could take your kids out and collect items to create your own natural creation]

When your children’s artwork becomes explicitly sacred in this way, be extra mindful about the ways in which you respond to it. Treat it with care and reverence, for it has emerged from a very tender part of their being–their soul. By letting them witness that their soul creations are worthy of your complete, loving attention, you are conveying to your children the powerful message that they matter very much.

 

ImageGlorify God in your BODY:  The physical fitness, suppleness, and energy are all God’s gifts to children, and as spiritual parents we must provide ample opportunity for them to enjoy what they have been given.

Yoga: Children’s yoga teachers say that the practice, as well as being good for fitness and health (it’s particularly helpful for asthma), sharpens a child’s ability to focus and helps to develop self-discipline–both essential for the spiritual path. The meditative aspects of yoga enable children to become aware that they have an internal life, “which really helps children get to know themselves.”

Family Walks: Walking in nature is one of the most popular ways in which to relax and feel connected to creation; it is something that we naturally seem to want to do to calm and renew ourselves.  

[I can chime in on the importance of family walks: we have a beautiful, natural path near our home and when anyone in our family is stressed or in need of any kind of relaxation–the path is the cure. It is easy to get lost in the leaves swaying, the bird songs, the way the light plays, etc. There is a healing that nature holds & our soul connection finds peace abundant.]

 

ImageThe importance of PLAY: the word “silly” derives from the Germanic selig, meaning ‘blessed.’ 

Silly games to play with your children before they grow up: toe game “this little piggy went to the market”, Splash tag: an outdoor game in which the person who is ‘it” tries to catch others by hitting them with a wet sponge, make crazy hats to wear to dinner, jump waves at the beach, paint crazy faces on each other or do shaving cream beards, blow up balloons and keep them all going up in the air, balance a ball on your finger, etc.

Vacations: When we go away we have the opportunity to experience life differently. From a spiritual perspective, think of your family vacations no as an escape but as an arriving. If you have been living in a flat and meaningless way, this may be the antidote that you all need. Don’t just take your bodies on vacation; take your family soul too.

 

Image

Practice Loving Family Discipline:

In it’s origins “discipline” comes from the Latin word for “instruction,” and a “disciple” is a student under the leadership of a teacher. For me, child discipline is more about training than punishment; used wisely it is guidance to ensure that childen become the best human beings they can be.  [I LOVED this!! I thought this made such great sense—you don’t need to use harsh punishment—loving guidance]

Quiet time: “Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of the gods,” -Ralph Waldo Emerson   This could be parent quiet time and also family quiet time. Spritual practice for Parents: Sneak a minute of silence into your life as part of your daily routine. If you look for it, sixty seconds of quiet can be found in the most unlikely places. You might find it at your desk before you start work. Or it could be while waiting for a saucepan to boil, or in the car after you have dropped off all the kids. 

[in our home quiet time can be a half hour of reading or just listening to quiet music, turning off the television, the electronics and just being still for awhile. Slowing down, having moments of quiet is so necessary to find any space of calm or spirit].

 

She has so much more including the importance of cutting down on tv time, pets, the importance of nature, community, big questions, manners, and so much more. If you have liked the information that I have shared in the past two posts–I would suggest buying her book and helping it nourish every part of the necessary needs of your family.

Have an amazing day. Thank you so much for taking the time to invest in this little blog. It means so much. Thank you.

Advertisements

Parenting with Spirit part 1

I just finished reading Jane Bartlett’s good book, “Parenting with Spirit.” I am always in search of more ideas to enrich the lives of those I love, so this was a good read. I am going to share with you some of the ideas and tidbits that I personally highlighted and the many take aways that you can use with your family. [note: these ideas jump all over from highlighted lines I was drawn to, the book carries many ideas and shares action ideas and many good things for your families, so this is just a glimpse—go buy the book! smile. smile.]

Image“the greatest enemy of the spiritual life is the human tendency to sleepwalk through life. Prayer calls us to wakefulness.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Pray with your children: I wrote about the details of praying with your family in another blog post “are you sleepwalking through life”  God is not only to be found when we are on our knees with our hands together. I often find myself saying a prayer while driving my daughter to school, praying for her day, that she will be safe, that she will be a light to others…I will also find myself praying when I am alone, praying for my family, having those moments praying for my child, my husband, our life together, and it may be on a drive, parked at a park, sitting on my back deck, just looking at the sky, not necessarily on my knees.

Here was a creative idea that Jane shares from her book: Create a cairn–a pile of stones used as a marker to show walkers the way. This works best when there are a number of you gathered for a communal  [family] prayer. In turn, place your pebbles into a pile in the center and as you do so speak aloud your prayers.    This is an engaging way of helping children take stock of their day or week. Collect three stones: one smooth pebble, one a jagged piece, and the third a sparkling gem. Offer the children each of the three stones. As they hold the pebble encourage them to recollect an ordinary moment of the day for which they are grateful. With the jagged, they recollect a moment that was difficult for them. And with the gemstone they recollect a moment that was sparkly and happy.

Parental blessings: Giving your child a blessing is a powerful experience for both you and the recipient. You don’t have to be a priest or designated holy person to give a blessing, you just need to have a genuine desire to extend your love and care to someone else. Growing up in my home we had a designated chair that even had a gold plaque that read, “blessing chair” and the prayers in my home were very formal with oils and rules. I have come to a deep understanding that the above statement is so very true. It is a matter of the heart, it is not only men who can gift their child a prayer of wellness or a priest or bishop who is the only one with ‘special keys’, God wants us to care for one another & if our hearts are in the right place, thinking of someone else and there well-being, then so it shall be good enough for Him to help a need, calm a troubled heart, prayer for the gift of a child, heal a sick child, comfort a child on their first day of school, bless them to find a friend, etc.…a blessing is a gift from the heart.

Scientific Studies of Prayer: There is a small amount of scientific research that seems to indicate that prayer might work. One study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine followed nearly 200 women in South Korea on an IVF program. Unbeknown to them, half of the women were being prayed for by Christians in North America and Australia, who had their photographs. The results were surprising, particularly for the researchers who had intended to prove that prayer doesn’t work. The women being pray for had a 50 percent success rate, compared with a 26 percent success rate for those not prayed for.     Another study, published in the American Heart Journal, covered 150 cardiac patients. They had been divided into five groups: one group received just standard care and the others additionally received guided imagery, stress relaxation, healing touch or intercessory prayer (by seven different religious groups from around the world). It was discovered that, after allowing for all manner of variables, those who received the additional “therapies” showed a 25 to 30 percent better recovery rate, and the group being prayed for fared the best with a 50-100 percent better recovery rate.

 

ImageSacred Ritual: Sacred ritual, however, has been disappearing from modern Western culture. As traditional religion declines, so too do the opportunities to experience collectively our connection to God.      Light two candles on the mantle every evening after dinner, one to pray for themselves [your children] and the concerns of their own lives, and the second to pray for people in the wider world.   [She has lots of ideas for family rituals and traditions–check out her book]  I have another blog post all about rituals and traditions—great ideas for your family.

Family Meal: a quarter of families only get to sit down and eat together once a month, and only 15 percent manage it every day.  Mealtimes are very important and enjoyable way to gather as a family and share news about the day: in many ways they represent the heart of family life. Taking a moment to say grace adds a deeper level of meaning to the occasion because it makes us aware that the food in front of us is a gift. There is bounty in the world, and here on the table lies the proof. Briefly, we might contemplate the sun and rain that gave the food life, the human hands that brought it to harvest and stacked it on the supermarket shelves, and finally the person who cooked it. In its fullest sense to the forces of nature and each other. There’s something sacramental about sharing food together, and it feels utterly right to have a prayer at that time. I honestly believe that food tastes better when we have had a moment of contemplation.

 

ImageStory time: Leaving your child to listen to a story on an audiotape may be enjoyable for a child and easy for a parent, but it can in no way capture this magic, because children’s bedtime stories are as much about the intimacy between the teller and the listener as about the tale itself. If you have had a stressful day, this is an opportunity for healing, because on your lap or tucked beneath your arms, your children feel safe and loved. Together you share a story that is like warm milk, feeding your child’s imagination and understanding of the world. Here is a book list she suggested: Chronicles of Narnia, The Secret Garden, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter, and the Wizard of Ozby L. Frank Baum. You can also look for book awards like the Carnegie Medal, The Whitbread, The Smarties Book Prize and the Guardian Award.  Favorite picture books include: The Big Big Sea by Martin Waddell, Guess How Much I Love YOu by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.   One of my other personal favorite authors—Nancy Tillman, On The Night You Were Born and ANY of her other magical books. Love them!

I LOVED this idea: I have started up a new ritual in our household on Friday evenings. It is called hot chocolate night. Instead of story time taking place in separate bedrooms with individual children, we all gather together, around the fire in the winter, for hot chocolate and a story.    You could also do cookies and milk during the warmer months OR ‘Watermelon and Wonder’

Are you Sleepwalking through life?

Oh, the wonder and magic of learning!! Yesterday I took an hour and watched a young man’s journey, Take it with you, where he went across the world to a variety of countries in search of meaning, the peace that was missing in his life and his soul’s yearning for something better. 

It seems for many of us there is always a constant searching, a yearning for something more. 

I just read an amazing quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, “the greatest enemy of the spiritual life is the human tendency to sleepwalk through life.” That thought hit me square in the heart because I have been thinking a lot about spirituality, creating a beautiful understanding of it in my family and having that as a center for all things we do. My husband is in a job that is a revolving door of no time, stress and a void of any type of spiritual awareness. He has been caught in a exhausted state, unable to balance and I have been praying to know how to help him, so this quote hit me and almost knocked me down. THE GREATEST ENEMY of the SPIRITUAL LIFE is the human tendency to sleepwalk through life!! WOW.

ARE YOU SLEEPWALKING?? We all do it from time to time, from one mundane activity to another, so would you like to hear something that is the solution…PRAYER calls us to wakefulness. -Thich Nhat Hanh

Image

Prayer is a beautiful piece to any puzzle that longs to fit contentment. Watching the movie yesterday made me see even more connections that the world has in happiness and prayer. Every tradition, different rituals, different religions, no matter there place on earth, has a well of history, knowledge, symbolism and divinity held within their temples, their churches, their synagogues, their arch ways…it was beautiful to see the Japanese gardens filled with large, red archways that symbolize stepping into a more spiritual place. It was humbling to see a tribe of people in South America who, to this day, still protect their ancient, natural spiritual places and the deep beliefs they hold with the deepest part of their hearts. It was interesting to see the one symbol that is seen all over the world–the flower of life symbol that this young man (from the movie) was able to find in every part of the world, in every temple, every sacred space. It made me understand the even deeper connections that have been placed on this earth so long ago. I enjoyed watching the different rituals of prayer, with candles, crosses, clapping, beads, kneeling, symbols…to see the respect and love of something bigger than us all. Prayer has a deeper connection for all of us, if we take the time to tap into the beautiful beyond.

 

Prayer is different for everyone. You may be able to focus through meditation or yoga, maybe you sit outside and give thanks with your mind, some may need to kneel in darkness to find clarity or maybe you can talk out loud while driving in your car, or maybe you feel it necessary to be in a church, prayer is different for everyone…BUT…everyone can pray.  Here are some resources and ideas to help you get more connected on a deeper level with your higher self:

 

ImageMaybe you find meditation or visualization a gift & the easiest way for you to get lost in your mind. Wisdom Film’s has done some amazing videos that are beautiful images with messages to slow you down and be mindful. Here is one of their videos: “Set Your Champion Free”—They have additional videos on youtube.

 

ImageGreat Article. Wow! Another quote just struck me—Reading this great article by a women who I have loved listening to [great podcasts], Elizabeth Lesser, I came across this “The Sufis say that our longing for GOD is GOD’s longing for us.” WOW. Does that not break you open and make your heart sing of peace! Here is the article—take what moves you. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/What-Prayer-Really-Means-Elizabeth-Lesser/2

 

ImageI have been reading, pondering and trying to get the best sense of how to help instill the faith of teaching prayer to my daughter. I just began reading the book Parenting with Spirit by Jane Bartlett and here is what she says:  Prayer is a language, a way of dialoguing with the divine. Like any language, it has to be learned. Prayer is not the preserve of any one religion: all faiths have prayer. It’s humankind’s most natural and important way of connecting to a larger reality, and it is available to us all. 

Here are her tips to help your family through prayer—-Prayer Nurtures a Family’s Spirit:

Prayer helps children feel connected to a larger reality. Prayer is an expansion of the consciousness and a suspension of ordinary thought. In some ways, prayer is a small act, as easy as reaching out and flicking on a light switch. However, once that light is shining, everything appears differently. You are seeing life as it truly is, albeit briefly. In praying with your children, you are showing them how simple it is to press the switch: to close their eyes, go inside, and “turn on” an experience of a larger reality.

Prayer promotes the development of an interior life. In prayer we quiet the hubbub of the day and hear a deeper part of ourselves instead. Children, just as adults, have an inner life, a world of thoughts and feelings. In prayer, they begin to learn how to attend to these emotions, to sort through them, understand them, and possibly change them. Prayer teaches children self-awareness.

Prayer encourages an examination of conscience. In prayer, we allow God to enter in. In so doing we shine a light on the dark corners, where we might otherwise have preferred not to have looked.

 Prayer acts as a tool of transformation. Prayer is an act filled with hope. We pray in faith that things can be better, that the world may become a happier place, and that we may fulfill our human potential. In so doing, we accept that we currently have limitations, but we invite God to help us overcome these.

Prayer develops gratitude and joy. In prayer we count our blessings. Think about all the good things that you have in your lives, and to thank God for them. Big and small things can be included in thanks. Prayers and gratitude help everyone appreciate their world and the people in it, and cultivate an attitude of joy. They also counter feelings of greed.

Prayer increases children’s engagement in the world. We can use our prayer to contemplate the wider world and set our lives into a bigger perspective. Encourage your children to think of people who are sick or lonely or experiencing personal problems. Think too of people in other countries who might be suffering from poverty, famine or war. Prayer promotes compassion.

Prayer brings parents and children together. Praying with your children can be an extremely intimate moment. This is especially true if you are speaking aloud spontaneous prayers. On one level this type of prayer is a profound sharing of thoughts and feelings. In joining each other in this, we overcome our sense of isolation. Your children feel tremendously valued and cared for when you say prayers and ask God to help them in their personal struggles.

Prayer develops reverence for the world. In prayer we take a moment to value the world God has made. Reverence helps nurture respectful behavior in children.

Prayer helps children feel safe. Prayer is a comforting ritual that prepares children for sleep, for their day…It is an opportunity to let go of cares and worries, to feel safe and loved.

Prayer encourages positive behavior. Loving and compassionate thoughts will ultimately translate into loving and compassionate behavior. Children will be more mindful about their actions and aware that they should be behaving in a way that is acceptable to God.

Prayer may have a mysterious power all of its own. You may find it easy to believe that prayer changes something within the person who is praying. But prayer traditionally has another function too: it is thought to change the world beyond ourselves. [She expounds more in her book]

 

I hope these thoughts and ideas help you to get in touch with a deeper side of your self and avoid sleepwalking through your life.

Peace to you.  -Heather