I spent a recent morning in my son’s kindergarten classroom, and was struck by all the yogic messages and lessons included in the school day. If only we adults could more fully live by these kindergarten words of wisdom, just think how serene and productive we would all become! Here are some of the lessons that stayed with me.
1. Be kind Or as we yogis say, practice ahimsa, or non-harming. Lucien’s teacher invited everyone to have “a kind day,” a goal I find simple and profound.
2. Stay calm She also suggested the children have “a calm day.” Think of Yoga Sutra 2:46, sthira sukha asanam, and aim for a steady and comfortable seat, whether you are a child in the classroom or an adult in morning meditation.
3. Quiet time is good The quiet that came over the classroom when the children gathered for their morning meeting and the teacher chimed the meeting bell was delicious and sweet. When we allow ourselves to be still, our mind becomes alert. This is helpful for word work, math, reading—and all sorts of spiritual enlightenment.
4. Have a strong body Whether you are a five year old walking down the hallway to lunch, or a full grown adult on your way to an important meeting, take the time to be fully in your body as you move from place to place. Walk consciously, breathe well, be alert.
5. Work Hard. Tapas, or discipline, can be cultivated from a young age. (Learning to write and spell and read is no easy feat.) Frustrated by a task at work at or at home? Here’s a lesson from Lucian and his classmates: Take a cleansing breath, and pick up your pencil for another try.
6. Take care of your friends. I was amazed and inspired by how much the children look after one another throughout the school day. These 22 children are Lucian’s sangha, or community.
7. Make time for self-study. Self-reflection or svadhyaya, whether through the arts (drama, music, art class) or through organized or free playtime (gym class, recess), is an essential part of being a kindergartener, and a yogi, too.
Yesterday Lucien brought home a self-portrait. A slightly crumpled paper with the letters L-U-C-I-E-N spelled in all capitals next to a stick figure drawing done in bright green of a smiling boy with a huge circle at his chest for a heart. A reminder that self-study comes in many forms and ways.
Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse), out in paperback now. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.