By the time dinner’s done, the day has caught up to me, and all I want is to be consumed by the couch and TV. However, my six-year-old daughter Arya and eight-year-old boy Finn have a different agenda.
“Daddy, it’s time for singing bowl meditation!”
As much as I adore my Tibetan singing bowls, I don’t feel like playing. And, if it weren’t for the fact that I want to encourage their new interest in meditation—an enthusiasm they found after watching Avatar: The Last Airbender—I would have deflected toward my favorite, albeit increasingly dangerous, activity of having them walk on my back. So, I kneel in front of the golden bowls, pick up a soft mallet, take a deep breath, and give the largest one a gentle strike. The resonate sound feels like stepping into a hot shower, and I revel in the vibrations as they scatter into an array of octaves.
Meanwhile, the kiddos have gotten comfortable and arranged battery candles around themselves. Finn, clearly trying to up his transcendence game, has spread a blanket on the coffee table upon which he perches in a parody of a lotus position. The slight smile on his face tells me that he’s pleased with himself.
I start playing a high-octave bowl and am just beginning to truly relax when Arya ruptures the calm. “Hey, no fair! Why does Finn get to sit higher!?”
Before I can respond, Finn chimes in smugly, “Sorry, the early bird gets the worm.” My face contracts into a frown as I say, “C’mon you two. Chill out. This is supposed to be a calming exercise.”
For a minute, it seems as though Arya has let it go and, once again, I start to feel my body calm as I tease out a floating tone on the rim of another bowl. But, no such luck. Again, her little, furious voice delivers an uppercut to my serenity: “Daddy, Finn just got another candle! I need another one but there aren’t anymore. Now, I can’t meditate!”
I return the striker I’d been holding to the floor with far too much force and snap, “Arya, will you quit complaining! Meditation isn’t about having everything perfect. You don’t need a certain number of candles or to be sitting on higher ground.”
Finn chimes in, “I’m on a table daddy, not the ground.”
Arya literally growls at him, and I decide to pull the plug on meditation. Soon, I’m belly down while the kids giggle and try to balance on my back, delivering me a “poor-man’s back rub.”
Later, after they are asleep, I’m doing dishes and thinking about the exchange. I was irritated with Arya for feeling like she had to have the ideal setup in order to meditate, but it occurs to me that I often fall into the same trap. How many times have I decided to forgo fifteen-minutes of journaling before bed because I’m too tired? Or, skipped walking my pup because it’s too cold outside? Or, neglected the woodworking project because the garage is too cluttered? My attitudes are merely an adult version of Arya’s belief that she needs to be on higher before she can meditate. As I’m drifting off, I remind myself that if I wait for the perfect conditions before engaging in healing activities, I’ll spend a lifetime on lower ground.