Teaching my children meditation, I hope, will be a gift for them later in life. A way of coping that I just simply never learned. I teach my children that meditation can take place in all kinds of ways. We do sit and chant together. I do many guided meditations. We do spirit animal meditations, which I know sounds hokey and new age-y, but is a really wonderful way to connect children to nature and other sentient beings. We often go on walking meditation where we try not to speak for a few minutes and just take in the present moment. We focus on our breath and steps. The other way I have done this is to teach them about painting meditations. Since Beezus was two and since Thor's birth, I have done painting meditation, so they are very aware of the interconnectedness of painting and spirituality for me. They also respect the serenity and austerity of the moments I paint for grieving women and men. It is pretty cool.
One meditation practice I have cultivated in the past few years is doing ensō meditations and paintings. I actually do ensō painting meditation a few times a week these days. It is one of my main practices. I paint them onto watercolor cards and use them for all kinds of things--anniversaries, birthdays, sympathy cards. I first painted an ensō because a client requested it on her mizuko jizo painting. I did a lot of research after that, looked at and meditated on many pictures of ensō painted by monks and enlightened beings. But that simple request started a journey in this ancient zen artist meditation. I first wrote about that practice here.
|This is an ensō I painted in acrylic on canvas paper. It hangs in my studio.|
And making circles is a wonderful way to teach children about imperfection, your own, theirs, without challenging them to be perfect. I think a good tie-in to an ensō meditation with children would be to read the book Dot. Dot is a beautiful book about art and self-doubt. Ish, also by Peter Reynolds, is a lovely book about, essentially, accepting the imperfection of your art as the beauty.
At any rate, a few weeks ago, Beezus asked me if she could join me for my ensō meditation, and it occurred to me how absolutely perfect ensō painting is to teach children about working meditation and incorporating mindfulness into every activity. And so, we did a meditation session, lit a candle, incense, sat still, imagined the circle. We talked about its meaning and how we will spend our lives making absolutely beautiful imperfect circles. And we painted ensō after ensō after ensō.
She got pretty good.