Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, December/January 2007. Copyright 2007. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
Babies don't need to meditate, but they do need positive sense stimulation. In that regard, silence is the most basic way to center yourself and your baby.
- Simply holding your baby against your chest, with her head next to your heart, provides a peaceful, centering experience. Taking a warm bath with your baby can settle her down; the soothing water, your steady heartbeat, and the tranquility of a quiet moment offer you both an opportunity to return to balance.
- Learning to sit in silence is a beautiful way to separate from all the external noise in our world. It's important for an infant to learn about her environment through the senses, but she can also be overstimulated. Your role is to provide the space, time, and patience to help your young child integrate all the incoming sensory data.
- Nature offers one of the best ways for children of all ages to increase their spiritual awareness and ability to center. Nature is rich and silent in comparison to the world of human activity. Through nature, a child experiences the vast peace of a blue sky. Allowing time for the child to savor the moment is a way of nurturing the child's connection with her inner spirit.
- If a child is in a meadow and sees a beautiful fruit tree, she will run to it. On the way, if a dog appears between the tree and the child, the tree will be forgotten, and the furry animal friend will be all that exists to the child. Then the child may turn from the dog to a duck that happens to waddle by. With each encounter, valuable learning takes place--learning that we can't duplicate in the classroom or on a television screen. It's the experience of being part of the harmony of the natural world that imprints our memory with an awareness. Nature provides spiritual awareness for some, and for others it offers a place to go to when they want to be calm, quiet, and in balance.
There are many things we can do to balance our babies and small children, but first and foremost, the mother and father need to be centered. In the womb, your baby's environment must be healthy and harmonious in order for the baby to thrive; therefore, during pregnancy, you need to keep your body in optimal condition. Your child will pick up even the most subtle energy exchanges in her environment.
Once your child is born, the benefit of taking the time to center yourself will be reflected in the overall harmony of your family. When you get home from work, take time out before rushing into activities. Let the entire family share the time-out session--call it the centering moment or quiet time. If you start early with these types of centering practices, they'll become second nature to your children. You may find regular silence time a wonderful bonding experience for your whole family.Excerpted from
Seven Secrets to Raising a Happy and Healthy Child: The ayurvedic approach to parenting by Joyce Golden Seyburn (Hay House, 2003).