I wish kids didn't have to be resilient.

Our kids have gone through a lot.  And when I write that, I fully understand the prospective from which that comes.  Most of our kids live a privileged life.  That is, they are loved, clothed, sheltered, fed and can have plenty of what they want too…the gaming, the toys, the Internet, the sleepovers and trips with friends and family.  In short, they have all they need and much of what they want.

So to say they go through a lot feels shallow or insensitive.  They do not fear they will be bombed when they board a public bus.  They don't worry that one of their sisters will be grabbed on her way school.  They have never considered that their father might be dragged from the living room at gunpoint and never heard from again.  They aren't refugees unaware of the immense danger they face when their mother places them on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea or father pays a smuggler to drive them across a hot boarder, hoping they won't die in the back of the cargo truck or get shot in the desert.  They don't consider that they might be sold into prostitution or married off to a terrorist.

But our children do have plenty of ‘first world’ problems.  Kids and adults, alike, with those first world problems seem to appreciate all we have the least.  We don't miss what we never had, and we don't appreciate things we've always been handed.  Ironically it seems life of privilege leads to boredom, excess, addiction, thrill-seeking.  We look externally rather than inwardly for happiness.  We look to material things to satisfy needs, and that never lasts long. 

We use the phrase ‘first world problems’ in jest, but let’s reflect.  Teens are pressured to fit in with the crowd by experimenting with drugs or sex they understand, in theory, they shouldn't approach.  Toddlers are abused by people they trust.  Children are bullied because their moms are now able to get married.  Kids come from broken families and are used as pawns by adults to feed their own egos.  First world problems also now include growing up in transient societies.  With more moves, the foundation of the village it takes to raise our kids is shaken.  Too many of our children wonder when a perfectly sane madman will express his views by spraying bullets into their classroom or church.  They practice ‘lock down’ drills regularly and know that if they “see something” they should “say something.”  The list goes on.

Maslow says we have needs that must be met along our path in life.  At its foundations, his Hierarchy of Needs includes those basics mentioned above.  Most of our ‘first world’ problems fall into the second layer: safety and security in a family and society.  This is pretty basic stuff as kids are growing up.  So, how, if their foundations are shaky, can they aspire to grow further, to grow emotionally into secure, enlightened adults?

World leaders are working to figure out the solutions to many tough situations.  Hopefully, their work with our support, will rebuild some of the societal stability we have lost, sooner than later.  In the meantime, what can we do, at a personal level?

I have seen the impact of meditation on my kids in producing this stability.  When kids are taught to meditate, they gain perspective.  Heck, when adults embrace mediation, they do the same. In fact, most adults who bring meditation into their lives wish they had done so earlier.   Meditation, at its most basic, establishes the core value that the present moment is all that we truly have.

Humans struggle with chaos; it is very stressful when we cannot control, or even predict, our environment.  Meditation gives us that control.  It allows us to realize that only what we're doing now, only this moment, is truly what affects us.  Yesterday is no longer a threat—we survived.  Tomorrow isn't here yet, so there is little way to affect it.

Meditation focuses our attention on our present, safe moment.  It centers us, pulls potent energy in from the earth to ground us.  Enlightenment is always inside us, always there.  We only need to recognize it is the present moment alone.  Nirvana is not a path, it is simply full appreciation of the present moment.  Just this.  And meditation, as an adult or a child, is a tool to see this moment directly amid all the chaos.
 


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