"We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people's happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life."
-H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama, as seen quoted on the Buddhaful Kids website
All sorts of activity can be a path for a person to stay connected with the heart of their spiritual practice. Praying, studying, reading, writing, artwork, meditation, group discussions and so much more.
I have dedicated this space online here, this blog, largely to exploring Tibetan Buddhist centers, for now sticking to exploration within the U.S.A. But "dharma space," I know extends far beyond a stupa or a monastic structure that incorporates traditional Buddhist elements. Dharma space is found in the hearts and minds, the activities and daily schedules of scores of individuals worldwide. It is intent and awareness. It is also boundless. There is no end to which this space can be cultivated, within us and without.
I recently started working at a child development center, spending the majority of my hours with 3 and 4 year olds. This age group delights me endlessly. The candor, the energy, the imagination, the desire to help and participate and learn- I love it all.
But as anyone who has spent a good deal of time around this age group (or can simply imagine the dynamics), there comes a point where things can get frazzled. By the ending of the day, many children are on their 2nd, or 3rd wind (often dependent on how naptime went!) and caregivers can also show signs of, despite loving these kids, being winded.
I've always loved stretching and yoga and quickly found it natural to simply round up everyone by the 4 o'clock hour and do some of this. The Classical Child Cd goes into the cd player, the kids find their "space" and we proceed to do a series of exercises and some deep breathing. I was truly delighted by their response as well as other staff's appreciation to take part and also lead the session.
And while yoga sessions by no means need to have a spiritual component, there is a golden nugget of wisdom in the saying "Your body is a temple." The transformation of the entire groups energy calms and centers. The kids, funny enough, particularly seem to love the prayer pose and the "Ommmmm" vocalization.
So, I was also truly delighted today to, during my virtual trekking to Massachusetts, come across Buddhaful Kids Yoga with Mary Kaye and read about Mary Kaye's pursuit of true passion and health, which is shared with people of all ages through her classes and books. Elsewhere in the States, child's yoga classes and centers abound and also share their knowledge in the many ways this activity is a great benefit.
Childlight Yoga makes mention of one of these:
"While yoga is becoming wildly popular with kids everywhere, one significant benefit often overlooked by parents and educators is the aspect of speech development. ChildLight "Yoga," "yogurt," or "woga" classes can help advance a young child's speech development through slow, repetitive verbal instructions, songs and the imitation of simple sounds found in nature."