Children are our best mindfulness coaches
Updated: Sep 30, 2018
It had been almost 7 years since I had been to a yoga festival, completed formal training or taught a class. So selfishly, I booked myself into the Sat Nam Yoga Festival in Joshua Tree, California. My daughter had just turned 8 and I thought it would be a nice thing for us to do together; I could book her into the Children's Yoga Camp and I could go to intensive yoga workshop sessions throughout the day to finally have some time to myself. In the evenings we could have dinner together, go to one or two of the evening concerts, and even take a swim in the Frank Lloyd Wright designed swimming pool.
It didn't go to plan.
After just one day of having time to myself to do some yoga with great teachers and live music, I went to pick up my daughter from the children's room. She was already out of the class looking bored and disgusted. Her little figure came stomping up to me, dust from the desert floor rising up, hands on hips.
"I did NOT get a plane, for 30 hours, to paint and colour!" she exclaimed, "There is NO yoga, and NO chanting and NO meditating!". She was pissed. And I felt like the world was being ripped out from under me. She had already endured vegan and gluten free meals for the past 24 hours and now this? And we were stuck in the desert with just a tent. No car. No way of escape. What the hell was I going to do with her? I nearly burst into tears.
So we talked, negotiated and came up with a plan that was not what I had envisioned for my 'peaceful days doing yoga by myself, but in a crowd of strangers".
For the next 5 days my little 8 year old was stuck to my hip. She was ready for the big leagues in a big way. She joined me in every morning yoga and meditation workshop with the adults. With seriously intellectual teachers and gurus, she listened to stories about the universe, karma and the hypothalamus. When the mantra required that we keep our arms up in the air for 11 minutes -- long enough for them to burn and shake and sweat -- she was right there beside me, focusing, keeping up and digging in her heals to earn her spot in the big leagues. The only child in with all the grown ups -- sometimes 300 of them in a class I would guess. My yogi shadow. My teacher.
And while we meditated together, I realised that this was a message from the heavens. That no matter what, from that time I gave birth, I needed to remember that I was ALWAYS a teacher first and foremost, like it or lump it. There was no longer going to be quiet times where it was all just about me, me, me. So get over it, suck it up, dig your heals in and learn from the master -- which was my daughter!
And I learned a lot from this little mini-me teacher by my side. Because of her, I went to classes I never would have done before, like gong playing and mala-making. We loved them and realised just how challenging...and meditative...trying to concentrate on beads and tying knots really is.
The really funny part? So many people came up to me, complimenting me on what an amazing mother I must be -- having flown my 8 year old from Darwin, Australia to the desert of California to have her join in meditation and yoga with me. "Has she always done morning Sadhana with you?" one woman asked. "When I saw your little daughter keep her arms up for 11 minutes, it motivated me to keep mine up too". Another commented nearly bursting into tears. Another even sought me out saying, "Oh, I so wanted to meet you! The woman I heard about that brought her daughter all the way from Australia to do yoga and meditation with her".
If they only knew.