Inspiring health and happiness in body, mind and spirit

Little Buddhas

October 16, 2011
I cheered when I learned that a daylong workshop would be streamed live over the web. I wanted to learn more about "Developing Mindfulness with Children," as the workshop was titled, and I adored the two wise women who were teaching it.

With two young kids keeping me beautifully busy, spiritual retreats in faraway places had become an indulgence of the past. Here was my perfect opportunity to learn something new about a topic I care about deeply, without even leaving home!

I parked myself at the computer just after 10 o'clock and smiled as the dim, grainy view of Sharon Salzberg and Susan Kaiser Greenland appeared on my screen. I marveled at the miracles of our virtual world that allowed me to eavesdrop - in my pajamas, no less - on a conversation occurring hundreds of miles away.

I patted myself on the back when I realized that later I could tune in on my iPad and carry this workshop around with me all day as I cooked, cleaned and refereed my kids'  Sunday afternoon squabbles.

I listened to Sharon's introductory remarks, and something inside softened as  I heard her offer the Buddha's instructions to "develop a mind so filled with love it resembles space."

"That's just what I want, for both my children and myself," I thought with a hopeful sigh.

Just then my four-year old ran into the room, climbed onto my lap, and asked me whether cows really can jump over the moon. My seven-year old followed, announcing that this was the perfect morning for a stroll through the woods in search of fall's most fiery leaves.

I hushed my boys and lured them back to the race track that snaked its way around the playroom. I slipped back to my computer and turned up the volume so I wouldn't be disturbed.

When my children roared back in just a few moments later, I saw the futility of my beautiful plan. Once again, my grown-up agenda for our day had bumped right into their simple needs for companionship and presence. I smiled at the irony of shooing my children away in order to learn how to teach them to be present.

"Your teachers aren't in New York City," I thought, with a tear of surrender in my eye. "They are right here on your lap."

And then I heard that wise woman within whisper, "Go learn from them."

I turned off the computer, bundled up my little Buddhas, and headed out the door for a Sunday walk in the woods. And on that stroll I received more beautiful and important teachings about developing mindfulness with children than I ever could have imagined when I sat down at my computer that morning.

Here's what I learned from my wise and wonderful sons: Every tool and every teaching we could ever need rests in front of us, right here and right now.

We need not leave home to grow wise. We need nothing new to become happy. Our teachers are already here, right before our eyes, urging us to shine brightly in loving presence and in peace.