~ awake in this moment, at home in the world ~

Little Buddhas

October 16, 2011
I cheer when I learned that the daylong workshop will be streamed live over the web. I want to learn more about "Developing Mindfulness with Children," as the workshop is titled, and I adore the two wise women who are teaching it.

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

I park myself at the computer just after 10 o'clock and smile as the grainy view of Sharon Salzberg and Susan Kaiser Greenland sitting side by side appears on my screen. I marvel at the miracles of our virtual world that allow me to eavesdrop - in my pajamas, no less - on a conversation occurring hundreds of miles away.

I pat myself on the back when I realize that later I can tune in on my iPad and carry this workshop around with me all day as I cook, clean and referee my kids' Sunday afternoon squabbles.

I listen to Sharon's introductory remarks, and something inside softens as I hear 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 think with a hopeful sigh.

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

I hush my boys and lure them back to the race track that snakes its way around the playroom. I slip back to my computer and turn up the volume so I won't be disturbed.

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

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

And then I hear a wise woman - not on the computer screen but within me - whisper, "Go learn from them."

I turn off the computer, bundle up my little Buddhas and head out the door for a Sunday walk in the woods. And on that stroll, I receive far greater teachings about developing mindfulness with children than I ever could have imagined when I sat down at my computer this 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 do not need to 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.