Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Teaching My Child to Find Spirituality in Nature
Mother and daughter in nature via shutterstock
The past four years feel like a whirl of change with pregnancy, birth and learning how to be a mother. It has been a time of discovery as, little by little, I learn who this beautiful child is that with whom the Creator has graced me. Before Amrita was born, I would often reflect on what kind of mother I felt I naturally was and what kind of mother I would strive to be. Then, once Amrita was born, I was thrown into a storm of diapers and night feeding as I attempted to navigate my way through this new and uncharted land, bleary-eyed, yet elated. All other concerns merged into the background.
Amrita is now almost four, and I can finally catch my breath a little bit. In place of running after her and making sure she does not trip or put everything in her mouth, we now walk hand-in-hand through our gardens, sit together and study a fallen seed and discuss how it might grow to create new and vibrant life. Parts of myself that felt long lost in the whirl of mothering have slowly begun to resurface, and I feel stronger and more grounded than I have in quite some time. I think Amrita might feel this way about her life as well. She is now used to being in her body and can grasp the world around her in a way that was previously unavailable.
Three is a magical age. The child has come into its own and offers a glimpse into the person they are growing into. It is also the age when they begin to question the world around them, how things work and why things are the way they are socially, biologically and emotionally. The concept of beauty, magic and enchantment become a reality to little ones.
As a child, I was always very enthralled with stories of magic, fairies and mysticism. As I got older, I retained that sense of wonder when connecting with nature. Amrita has reached this age of discovery and play within the mysteries of existence, and I am so excited to share this with her.
I feel that now I have the space and calling to open up other sides of mothering, such as introducing and sharing feelings, concepts and aspects of spirituality and beliefs. I don’t ever expect my daughter to believe what I believe, but as I mother I will share my views on the world and spirituality and she can then create her own ideas.
Amrita and I sit cuddling and looking around as spring bubbles up and blooms all around us. We breathe together in the garden and sense the rhythms of nature. At the beginning of winter, we moved into a new home, and the entire family has been enthralled with watching our home come alive—we take joy in being part of this process. At our local children’s museum, there is a sign in the garden that reads, “Nature never hurries, yet all is accomplished.” I try to remember this when rushing Amrita off to school in the morning and as I balance work with family life.
I have for many years looked to nature as a base of my spirituality. The growth of new life and meditation within the peaceful embrace of nature brings a stillness to my meditation equal to nothing else. It is through nature that I feel most connected to the Creator. My Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, says the following about the mother aspect of God:
I will look to nature and the Creator to guide me through mothering. We are all part of the Creator as we play the part of the ‟Mother Aspect of God”—creating new life and learning its needs, rhythms and individual uniqueness. As in nature with its countless species, our souls and our children’s souls are unique, and each child requires her own flow and has needs for growth and nurture from her parents.
To teach a child to cherish nature and see herself within nature’s majesty and beauty and to understand the cycles of birth, life and returning to the Creator are valuable learning tools. As a society, we have largely wandered too far from our home and must return if we are to be able to continue living on this planet. My work as a filmmaker and writer is largely on this subject. As a mother I will expose my children to these ideas and teach them the beauty of respecting their home and roots in nature.
Recently our family has embarked on another way of connecting not just our souls, but our physical bodies and health to nature. First, let me tell you, I am the biggest nature lover, but my thumb is not at all green. I lived in small New York apartments for years and managed to keep a house plant or two in a semi-state of health, but not much more. I have always longed to grow my own food, but until now, I did not think I could do it. My cousin introduced me to the world of hydroponics—a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil. You can fit many more plants into a smaller space and do not have to water the plants every day or guess how much to water them (this has been one of my biggest challenges in the past). Eventually, we might add a fish tank to the system, which would make a self-sustaining little ecosystem as the fish waste add nutrients to the plants.
Amrita was very excited about growing our own food, and together we planted the seeds that first grew in our bathroom until they were large enough to be added to the hydroponics system. Many times a day we would inspect the seeds together, and the look of joy on Amrita’s face as she began to grasp what the seeds were to become was so magical. We also sought out some larger organically grown plants from the farmers market, as well as clippings from my cousin’s plants, and added them to our system. We now make morning and evening pilgrimages out to the greenhouse to see our little plants develop. Without fail, we are all filled with a sense of wonder and joy upon entering and observing the plant’s rapid growth. I do not know if it is in our DNA or simply in our spirits, but I have found growing our own food to be one of the more satisfying things I have ever done. I love how Amrita is now connecting with where her food comes from. I am hopeful that this enthusiasm with growing food will open her up again to eating things that are green and seeing herself within the beauty of nature.
© 2013, Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa. All rights reserved.
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