I spent almost all day yesterday with my 20 month-old son Ash at a Buddhist temple in Orlando. We were there for a spiritual workshop with some friends and family. I didn’t get to sit and listen to much of it or, I should say, I got to sit and listen to exactly as much as I was supposed to, but most of the time Ash and I were running around the temple. He ran up and down the stairs, in and out of tea rooms and sanctuaries, from 9am – 5pm. As you can imagine, I’m a little sore this morning. But it wasn’t until I got home that night, that I realized I had spent all day around my son without feeling any real connection to him at all. All day, part of me wanted to be back with everyone else listening to stories of divine intervention and miraculous healings, so I guess it feels like part of me didn’t want to be spending time with my son. My heart wasn’t in it.
I’m convinced kids are psychicly intuitive. As adults, we don’t really notice that they are aware of what we are thinking and feeling because they don’t exactly where it on their sleeves. If they notice we don’t really want to be spending time with them, they don’t look at us with anger or disappointment, they just keep doing whatever they would be doing. But if I pay attention to Ash very closely, there seems to be a notable difference, in his demeanor, when he’s doing something around me and when he’s doing the exact same thing, with me.
After we left the temple, we had dinner with friends and then Carly and I talked about the day on the way home. And when we got home, we were all pooped, especially Ash. He hadn’t gotten enough sleep that morning since we had to wake up for the workshop. And he didn’t really get a proper nap because it was interrupted by our lunch break. So by the time we got home, he was over-tired and pretty cranky. After watching him frustratedly trying to plug and unplug our phone into the charger for 30 minutes, crying whenever the frustration became too much, I decided to take him outside to run around and let off some steam. He climbed and threw things, running up and down our neighborhood for about a half-hour until we made it to the pond where he likes to throw little seed pods into the water to hear the kurplunk sound. He looked like he was having fun so I decided to let him go at it while I tried to do some meditation while keeping one eye on him.
I did exactly one Omkar meditation and three Kriya breaths before he decided to run off and I had to get up to run after him. For anyone who doesn’t know Kriya Yoga, that’s not a lot of meditation. Most people wouldn’t even count it, but I do. And not just because my life is so full of “life” that I’m lucky to get any meditation at all but also because right after I finished those three Kriya breaths, I was running after my son when I realized I had spent all day around my son but hadn’t spent a single second with him. It was like I had spent all day watching a dog run around, just making sure he didn’t get into any trouble. And so, he was acting like a dog, even at that moment he was running toward the street because he loves to watch the cars.
But something had changed in me, I didn’t see him the same way anymore. I stopped chasing him, and I spoke to him as if he was another adult who understood every word I was saying. I said, “Hey Ash,” he stopped and looked at me, “do you mind if we go inside? We’ve been out here for a while and we should really get ready for bed.” he responded with “Nom, nom, nom nom!” as he walked back to my side and then stayed by my side all the way back to the house. Needless to say, I was astonished. I had spent the entire day chasing after him with no sign that he was even aware I was there unless he wanted something from me. But as soon as I started treating him like a real person, opening my heart to him and feeling like we were in this together, he felt the exact same way. We were finally spending time with each other instead of just around each other.
So I learned two very valuable lessons yesterday:
- Not only is it easier to watch Ash if I treat him like a real human-being but I also feel closer and more connected to him.
- The tiniest bit of Kriya Yoga can expand my awareness in surprising ways so I should never hesitate to take advantage of any opportunity to sit and practice, no matter how short the practice might be.