They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but it can be a struggle to find the right village!
We are blessed that there are many secular villages in which we can participate, like our play groups and parent meetings with thosewho practice attachment parenting techniques, but we have really struggled to find the right spiritual home for our family.
Both my husband and I were raised in religious families.
With the many activities that our respective churches offered, we were introduced to an intricate cosmology to describe the nature of the Divine, initiated into spiritual disciplines through which we could access and understand the Divine, and supported as we were seeking to discover ourselves in context of our individual self, our community, and the Divine itself.
And while we honor that upbringing and value it, as young adults we no longer connected with the cosmologies. Instead, we both discovered meditation, which has become a cornerstone of our spiritual practices.
We want to share these practices with our son. While I believe I could do a good job of teaching my son our spirituality and sharing it with him, I feel that, without community, he would be lacking in the essential grounding that community brings.
By grounding I mean the rootedness we feel within a social context of care and mutual interest and goals. Our fellow practitioners keep us motivated, inspired, uplifted, and engaged. We gain unique insight into ourselves and are prevented from feeling personally and spiritually isolated – from spinning out into self-important imaginings.
I want such a grounding for our son; I want him to have a “spiritual home” in which he can find the support and challenges brought forth by an intentional group of likeminded and likehearted individuals so he, too, can grow and discover himself as a unique spiritual being.
Many of my friends feel the same need for community once they have a family.
Nearly all of our friends returned to their childhood religious upbringing when they had children, and they encouraged us to do the same.
After all, you and your family get all the benefits of the established community, from casual social groups and community service endeavors, to a religious/spiritual education for the child that both includes and is independent of the parent.
But, we simply didn’t feel comfortable pretending our way through services and teachings that no longer resonate with us. For me, attending a church we don’t believe in leads to confusion rather than cohesion. It just wasn’t a good option for us.
We sought out communities of meditators, but discovered that many were not child inclusive or family friendly. There was no way for children to participate, and no way for them to receive the same spiritual care that they might in Sunday school.
So, once we established Healium here in Wellington, I decided that we would start a group on our own. There had to be other people who didn’t belong to a specific religious group, who practiced meditation, who were seeking other families for a spiritual community.
But the question remains – how does one make a meditation group family friendly? I was blessed to spend three years in an unprogrammed Quaker meeting in Pennsylvania, and I used their process for inspiration on how to do this.
Just as Quakers do, we’ll begin our meditation practice with our children. Then, the children will retire to another room, where one or two parents will lead songs, games, art projects, and stories, or support free play. At the end of the meditation practice, parents and children come together for some community time to chat and have some tea and goodies.
And of course, it’s not just limited to people with families. All are welcome – anyone who is looking for a multi-generational experience of community with this particular spiritual practice.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how it develops. I’m excited to be able to provide this for my son and for other families too!
If you don’t live near us, form one of your own in your community! I’d be happy to help you get started!
Jenifer M Parker is the owner/director of Healium, a holistic health collective, as well as a yoga teacher, Thai yoga massage practitioner, and avid meditator. She enjoys the mindfulness practice that parenting her son Hawk brings, as well as sharing yoga and quiet meditation practices with him.