Back in November of 2011, I wrote a post here on WMB titled “How We Pray”. This addressed how my husband and I foster spirituality in our home without following any one specific religion. I’m in the process of reflection on these efforts, so I decided to write an update.
We continue to say our daily intentions as mentioned in the previous post, but I have added to our morning routine a spiritual thought of the day pulled straight from Deepak Chopra’s “Seven Spiritual Laws For Parents.” Pictured below is a well-worn paper taped to our kitchen wall.
It lists one spiritual idea for each day of the week followed by a kid-sized tagline. Each day we say the spiritual word along with its meaning. Then we talk about how we can implement that in our day at home, school, or work. Are these talks lengthy? Well, they are usually over breakfast, so it depends on how hungry everyone is and how much coffee I have consumed. But it’s a touchstone that we consistently come back to, and my 7 year old understands the difference between karma and dharma, so I count it as a successful undertaking.
We also reaffirm the Christian importance behind holidays like Christmas and Easter while continuing to explore other faith-based celebrations. Each winter, we pull out a craft book that talks about the various festivals of light around the world. Hanukkah is a particular favorite of my older son, and he always makes menorahs out of paper to decorate the house. He also has a dreidel, and we play for candy.
I try to keep my eyes open for other opportunities to expose my kids to different ways of prayer. On our recent vacation to the island of Kuai in Hawaii, I read about a Hindu monastery that had visiting hours. My husband thought I was nuts for wanting to take our energetic 7 year old and willful toddler to a monastery with strict dress and conduct codes. However, I argued that if it was in the guide book, it was fair game.
Sure enough, there was a gazebo at the entrance that had sarongs you could borrow to cover up appropriately while the rules of conduct were posted everywhere so you knew where to go and how to act. Wrapped in sarongs too big for them, our children behaved beautifully as they tip toed around the grounds. We didn’t enter the prayer temple, but we walked in the sacred gardens, admired beautiful statues, and read about the principles of Hinduism. They also had an area where you could write down a concern or emotion blocking your happiness and burn it in a fire. My husband, my older son, and I each made our own offerings and walked away a little lighter.
The monastery had a gift shop where they sold various books, spiritual aids, and art. My sons got to choose souvenirs, and both wanted rudraksha prayer beads. This side trip ended up being one of the highlights of our vacation, and my sons keep their prayer beads on display in their bedrooms at home.
For our most recent spiritual exercise, my older son and I read together “A Pebble for Your Pocket” by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a wonderful book for children about the principles of Buddhism. Covering the concepts of mindful breathing, walking meditation, and the practice of being present in every moment to find happiness, it was a powerful reminder to me to be more intentional each day as well as a an accessible introduction of these principles for my son.
I gave him a little statue of Buddha to keep in his room among his other faith-based keepsakes. When he opened the box with the little Buddha inside, I asked him if he knew who it was supposed to be. He said it sort of looked like Santa because he was fat and jolly. I guess it all blends together in our home. But if we are attentive to the present, kind and loving to ourselves and others, and tolerant of those who differ from us, then I say we’re doing just fine. Namaste.
How do you address spirituality in your home?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credits to the author.