With so much unrest in the world today, such as global warming, climate change, increased violence, and rising health issues, there is no doubt we need to stop and reassess how we think and talk, as well as what we say and do. Crises, whether they are personal or worldwide, have forced people to think about the deeper meaning of life.
If we can raise the next generation to be consciously aware human beings; then, their thoughts and actions will make a huge impact on humanity. This will not only benefit them but society and the environment as well. Parents are responsible for their children's physical and intellectual growth along with their social and emotional development. Parents record their children's height with pencil markers on the wall and ensure that they have met all the health milestones. They look at how their children are progressing in school and keep tabs on their grades. How many parents pay attention to their children's spiritual progress?
When I talk about spirituality, it's an inner relationship to a higher power that loves and guides us. You can call it God, supreme consciousness, or give it a name like Shiva and Buddha. Spirituality is helping one build this inner connection and inner dialogue with that higher power. The bible states that you have to be like a child if you want to enter the kingdom of heaven; therefore, children are naturally spiritual. Parents train their children to be materialistic. Think about a time when you gave your children a gift when they were young. They were fascinated with wrapping paper, bows, and gifts. But it is us who tells them, "Oh no, no, this is garbage." We push the wrapping paper & bow aside and push the toy in front of them. Children's nature is to be spiritual; but as they look and learn from us, they start to walk away from that nature. Today I'm going to give you a few ideas of how you can keep that spiritual awareness within your children and how you can help that awareness grow within them.
The first is to nurture this inner confidence within your children and help them recognize that there is a superpower within all of them. A child will look to their parents for validation if they make a painting. But if you feel like that painting is not so great and you voice this concern, they'll think the same. In school, grades are often used to confirm whether a child is smart or not. Children are constantly looking towards their parents and teachers for validation. So, if you can nurture within them that there is this inner power that makes them capable to take on anything and that within them lies this untapped energy, which enables them to learn and excel at anything; then, it will help them build that inner connection and inner confidence. This nurturing has to be done daily. Similarly, as you give your children multivitamins daily, nurturing that inner confidence has to be done daily. It can be achieved in many different ways; whether it's daily meditation, an affirmation practice, or chanting. Whichever method you choose; the goal is to do it daily. If it's sporadic, it will not stick with your child.
The second is appreciating nature more. Studies show how spending time outdoors helps children be more stress-free and mentally grounded. Children are naturally drawn to nature and being outdoors. It helps them be one with nature and be one with their own true nature as well. Children will naturally jump in puddles and put their hands in the soil because they connect to that higher presence that exists in all of God's creation. While teaching them how to grow a plant, they will realize that if they don't take care of this plant and if they don't water it regularly, it will soon die. This teaching will help them nourish their talents, relationships, and their connection to the universe. While teaching them to raise a puppy, they will experience unconditional love and compassion. This will spread over to all of God's creation and everything in the environment. We should go on simple walks, spend time in water and connect with the natural sources that God has provided us all with. This will instill within children to take care of the environment and to appreciate the natural resources that have been provided to us.
The third is the art of giving. Teaching your child to give from a very young age is a good practice. Whether it's volunteering or feeding the less fortunate. It is important to build in your household a tradition of giving so that when birthdays and holidays arrive, your child is not only focused on what they are receiving; but, also pays attention to what they're giving. It doesn't always have to be a monetary donation. If your child loves drawing or is artistic, let them draw a beautiful greeting card for the elderly. Also, they can cut someone's lawn or pick up snow from someone's driveway. It is important to incorporate little acts of giving within your daily life.
The fourth is cultivating gratitude. We live in an age where we're constantly focused on what we don't have and thus compare ourselves to others. We continuously feel like we've received the shorter end of the stick. If we can raise our children to focus on what they have instead of what they don't; they will then grow up to be content human beings. Once a blind child was sitting on a street with a hat in his lap and a sign that read, "I am blind, please help." Many people walked that street and one man dropped a few coins into his hat. The man asked if he could change the blind child's sign. After he changed the blind child's sign, he went on his way. That day many people dropped coins into the blind child's hat. Later that afternoon, the same man who changed the sign returned to meet the blind child. The blind child asked if he was the same man who changed his sign because many people were now dropping coins into his hat. The man confirmed that it was him that changed the sign to now read, "Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it." Both of the statements were true. The blind child's statement which was, "I am blind, please help," and what the man had written today, "Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it." The second statement enabled people to be grateful for their sight and to appreciate what they can see, which was a simple reminder of something that they might not have thought of regularly. This statement enabled them to be grateful for their sense of sight and to give. If we can give simple reminders to our children, such as being grateful for the sun that gives us light and energy, this will then cultivate a sense of gratitude. The habits you cultivate in them today will serve a deeper purpose tomorrow.
Spirituality is a vast untapped resource in our understanding of human development, but one that needs constant attention especially in today's day and age. Let us all stop and think for a few moments about how many of the things you do resemble the actions of your parents. Let us think of the way we say things, the facial expressions we make, and how we deal with situations. I'm sure there are quite a few resemblances. The same holds true with your children. They will do exactly what you do.
So, if you want them to be spiritual and consciously aware beings; then, you have to be the same first. If on a plane, the pilot will announce, "In an event of an emergency, secure your own mask first before you help another." The same holds true for spirituality. If you want your children to be spiritual, you need to be spiritual first. It is important to incorporate this into your daily life. You must not separate spirituality and parenting. Don't make it a one-day-a-week thing, which you only exercise when you go into a congregation, satsang, or church. However, incorporate this throughout the day. This will help them excel in anything that they do. It will teach them the art of giving. If you can incorporate even one of these things into your daily routine with your children; then, you're well on your way to raising spiritual and conscious human beings. This will help make a massive shift in the universe and make this world a more peaceful place to live.