7 Spiritual Laws For Children developed by Deepak Chopra … Designed as a tool for parents, applicable by all adults and children!
My current favorite book for guiding children in a yogically-inspired way: The Seven Spiritual Laws For Parents, Guiding Your Children To Success & Fulfillment by Deepak Chopra
Oh, Deepak Chopra, you’ve done it again! Offering a unique point of view for being mindful and heart-connected in an often less-than-centered world. OK, well, to be fair, you actually did this one bit of brilliance several years ago, but I just got to reading it, so thanks!
This book is specifically geared toward parents, but in my experience as a teacher, I can see that much of this information is helpful to anyone working closely with children of all ages. (Not to mention as a reflection tool for ourselves!) Dr. Chopra revisits his original, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success in this book, redefining them in a more child-friendly way.
When I read his words about how he realized if he had been offered these simple tools to live by as a child, his “life would have been profoundly different,” I couldn’t help but hear my own words in regards to yoga echoed. I can recall being an adolescent and struggling with so many issues, but having some deep-seated sense of knowing that everything was going to be ok and that I had some sort of power to make it be so. I had no idea how, though. And, I had no idea how to find out how, no idea how much of a blessing having a healthy human body is, or what – if any – action I could take to create a more positive life experience for myself. I have said numerous times over the years that the fact that yoga and I found each other when I was nineteen is such a complete and total gift … and yet, while I recognize that everything happens in perfect timing, and nineteen is not exactly over the hill, I have often wished that I was introduced to yoga much earlier. Given the opportunity to boost my brain power, build up a stronger sense of self, and learn about honoring my body and keeping myself really healthy earlier in life, I know I would’ve grown from a more a positive set of core beliefs, therefor making many periods of my life much smoother, happier and healthier.
A common misconception with yoga is that we teachers are trying to push a certain religion or religious way of being on students, and that can be frightening for parents when approached about their children doing yoga. I take it upon myself to honor the base traditions of creating a sense of union within one’s self, community, and the world peacefully, while using common, practical and secular tips through my teaching. I have found that many glimmers of brilliant information which can be applied by anyone come from various sources so I often take the “shopping cart” approach in order to glean something useful: When I go the natural food store, I don’t buy everything that is there upon each visit. I take what I need and want that day, what is sensible for my life, and I leave the rest behind. I may find that at a future visit I will pick up a few things I never have before, but even then, I am only taking what is right for me at the present time.
What I’m getting at here is, if you find yourself stressing out about the word “spiritual” in this post and in Deepak Chopra’s book, perhaps just take a few deep breaths to relax a bit and open up to how this information might be applied in your family’s daily life and belief system. In the book, Dr. Chopra gives each law a day of the week to focus on it, and offers many practical examples of how to explore them with children. Get creative with them! These “Seven Spiritual Laws for Children” can by utilized by all children, regardless of faith or background, and offer parents, teachers and childcare providers a lovely starting point for helpful life lessons:
*Everything is possible. … Don’t we always want our children to believe this? Don’t we always want to believe this ourselves? Don’t we say this to our children in multiple ways on a weekly basis? (If not, daily!) Just think, if we affirmed this to ourselves over and over, and we REALLY started to believe that everything is truly possible, what we would create in the world! Our dreams would always feel attainable. If not us, then why not our children?!
*If you want to get something, give something. … A simple law about giving and receiving and making more balance in the world for ourselves and others! We teach this with our youngest children when we encourage them to share. We teach this with our oldest children when they want the keys to the car and we want them to wash it in return. We teach this each time we give of ourselves to our children, their school/team/club what-have-you, thereby making them feel special. We encourage them to give to those in need, and, hopefully we model that to them.
*When you make a choice, you change the future. … Through this law, Dr. Chopra explores the notion that by supporting our children’s ability to be “sensitive, aware choice makers” we empower them. We can easily discuss choices on a daily basis with our kids; we are constantly making choices: What do I want to eat for breakfast? How will I spend this free time? When will I go to sleep? Children love being a part of the decision making process of their lives, and not making their decisions because we told them they should go in a certain direction, but rather having the opportunity to take our guidance to heart and still make their own choices free from judgment. By understanding that the choices we make change the future, we realize just how powerful our ability to choose things is, and perhaps not to take it for granted. If we parents/teaachers tread mindfully here, we may instead be part of growing a community of children who choose to use their powers for good.
*Don’t say no — go with the flow. … Several years ago a friend of mine explained to me that when she didn’t know what to do, she looked for the path of least resistance and went with that. I immediately began to apply this approach in my own life and, while I don’t always do it first, I definitely recognize it when I’m not in flow and can pretty quickly adjust to come back to that sense of fluidity again. (When I remember that everything is ok no matter what, and will be better if all is smooth and I am happy.) This is such a valuable lesson for a child. Imagine if this were taught to children from babyhood – it would be second nature! The adults they grow into would be a more relaxed breed of human with a happy heart and calm life! What a gift!
*Every time you wish or want, you plant a seed. … Using this law as the foundation, we can teach children the powers of intention and patience. Real intention comes with the understanding that we have the opportunity to realize anything in the world. Real patience comes with understanding that we are alright and capable. We can also use this law to teach a sense of being present and keeping our eyes open so we notice how our wishes and wants are coming to life in even the littlest ways. It might sound heady for young children, but Dr. Chopra offers talking points to help children understand the difference between making a list of “acquisitions” and holding a vision of happiness and fulfillment. Using the language of this law, we can guide children to an awareness that sometimes it takes a while to see our desire come to fruition, but that we have the power to be patient and continue to hold a strong, positive vision. I have found it incredibly handy to acknowledge how hard it can be to wait to my almost 3 year old daughter, and then to tell her I believe she can do it, she can be patient and calm and see that what she is waiting for can happen. 9 out of 10 times that acknowledgment seems to help her settle into a calmer state and come to place of pride. It works for myself, too, when I, or someone else acknowledges my feelings of concern, fear, tension, etc. and reminds me that I have the power to not panic, and to be patient and trust – don’t we all want to be understood?!
*Enjoy the journey. … Need I say more? We can help children find ways to enjoy every endeavor of every day without stressing about them by finding fun, humor, joy, meaning, calm, peace, and pride, to name a few. Now, can we do that ourselves???
*You are here for a reason. … This one starts to sound a little after-life-ish, but let’s examine Dr. Chopra’s intelligent analogy to look at this idea from the perspective of ‘today’: “How did I make a difference today? … What talent did I uncover? … What came to me – a gift, a lesson, a beautiful experience – that made me feel special? … What did I do to make someone else feel special?” He goes on to explain that “A child who has not learned to look for meaning in simple ways will one day have to try to find a purpose in life under much more difficult circumstances.” At some point, we all wonder what we could do with ourselves, and what is truly important. Utilizing this “law” from such a simple place could come in really handy on that exploration.
May we all glean something useful, applicable and enlightening from these opportunities for growth and connection in our own lives, through our own belief systems, and with the people we love! Namasté!