Why teach Quiet Contemplation?
Whereas the Nature Study and Arts & Culture themes focus on exploring the outer worlds of nature and of human endeavor, the Quiet Contemplation theme turns inward, focusing on the development of knowledge and skills that can help us better manage ourselves, and the ways in which we interact with others. Topics of exploration include:
- How does my body work?
- What are the warning signs that I have been neglecting my body’s needs?
- What can I do to make/keep my body healthy?
- How does the human brain think, learn, and feel?
- How can I make learning, and skills-mastery easier on myself — especially for those skills that challenge and frustrate me?
- How can I prevent myself from becoming overstimulated?
- What rituals can I use to calm and soothe myself, if I fail to notice the warning signs?
- What can I change about my communication style, to help people hear what I am trying to say?
- How can I connect with people, and draw them out instead of shutting them down?
These types of cognitive, social, emotional, and physiological meta-skills are essential for anyone wishing to perform to the best of their ability, and remain happy and healthy in the process. However, all books and resources that I have found on these topic, to date, are written for adults.
Young children’s brains are not yet fully developed, and they are not yet physically capable of focusing their own attention; their attention is focused and refocused by external stimuli. So, although young children might be trained to reproduce the external behaviors of things like meditation, and guided visualizations, they cannot actually do the internal work of meditation and energy work until they are older.
There are some activities and simple rituals that can help lay the groundwork for later internal work, and help our young children gain the benefits of that work, when assisted by a trusted and experienced adult. Examples of this include: teaching them how to select music (for listening) that alters, rather than enhances a current mood (music therapy); teaching them to sit with and carefully study (with all six senses) a beautiful stone, or houseplant, or ornament, to direct attention away from worries and quieten a racing mind; and observing and mimicking the physical presence, movements, and spirit of an oak tree, or birch tree, or an animal observed in the yard. Each of these activities help to ground the young scholar, develop the focus needed for later internal work, and provide immediate benefits — which also serves as evidence that the work of developing a meditation practice will be a worthwhile pursuit, later on.