What parent likes to heart those infamous words, “I am bored!” None that I know of as it usually is the precursor to whining and complaining and a need to be entertained. Boredom comes with the belief that children always need to be doing something. Sayings like “An idle mind is the devil’s playground”, has lead us as a society to be doers. Yet, we are human beings, not human doings. And with the advancements in technology, we can be incredibly idle while doing something!
Teaching children to be at peace, and quiet their mind is a valuable tool. I wish my influence on my daughter and grandchildren had understood this when they were infants. I would give them time alone. Let them watch and interact with the mobile, play with their toes, find their fingers, make sounds and wonder where it came from, and laugh without interference. Quieting the mind is a skill most adults need to learn as well. There are so many sleep disorders, addictions and other problems caused by an inability to shut off the mind. We torture ourselves with our constant thoughts! Predicting the future, dwelling on the past, judging, criticizing, anticipating, all keep the mind active.
Kids are rarely born this way, we train them to be like us! They are asked, “Why aren’t you doing something? Find something to do!” I remember 40 years ago putting the container of legos in front of my stepson while he watched TV, thinking at least he would be using the creative side of his brain while he “wasted” time. Perhaps that is why those in their 20s and 30s are much better multi-taskers. However, that also leaves their brains even more active all the time.
Has the ability to “be” been lost? “The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.” Time not doing is time for being, but it has to be taught, even if it was a skill with which we were born. Bored children need to learn to treasure down time to charge that personal energy, strength and connection to the source of light within and overcome doubts and fears. Constantly active kids need quiet time as well, because all children need the connection with self and God to reduce ego and build their loving self, becoming compassionate caring people with a sense of oneness with others. It is a package deal as they best learn from modeling you. Meditation, or mindfulness doesn’t need to be done in a yoga pose. Sitting quietly For families that have quiet reading time, guided meditation can easily be a next step. While teaching them to breathe deeply and focus, you are quieting your mind as well. “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness or self reflection is being taught in schools now to help children lose the control their busy emotions have over them. With the help of Mindful Schools in a San Fransisco school , a documentary was created called Room to Breathe. As the instructor begins, she tells a child, that she can’t expect to be entertained her whole life. Isn’t that what boredom is, the absence of entertainment? She also within the first few minutes, talked to them about finding their happiness through mindfulness. Is a lack of happiness part of boredom as well? Whether the term used is meditation, self reflection or mindfulness, children and the adults in their lives can benefit from the quiet mind that breeds happiness, contentment, compassion and love.