Tuesday, April 28, 2015
I recently returned from a 3 day silent meditation retreat. There were no books, journals or technology for the duration. Everyone was silent from Thursday at 7:00 pm – Sunday at 10:30 am. It is an opportunity to attend to your own heart and body for the entire time. The theme of the retreat was “Your life is your practice” and we contemplated ideas such as how we bring compassion, kindness, non-judgmental awareness and wisdom to all the moments of our days whether we are eating, working, walking, brushing our teeth, parenting or being with emotions like anger, sadness, joy, love, grief, anxiety, depression etc. In other words, whatever is going on in your life is the practice in that moment. We practice slowing down and being very present and mindful on the retreat and then of course the practice continues in our lives at home. Over time we get stronger at sustaining the awareness, compassion, lightness and wisdom regardless of challenging circumstances. Sometimes we are better at it than others and there is an acceptance of that. We can always start again. Every day is a new day. The retreat leader was teaching about living with wise action and wise speech at one point during the weekend. We were asked to consider how we bring that into our lives. It was good to contemplate. Several days after the retreat I was speaking with my friend who is Principal of a K-grade 8 school in Waterloo. She was telling me how 33 boys and girls and her grade 7/8 classes were under police investigation because of naked photos being taken and shared with cell phones. Phones had been confiscated and pictures had been viewed by the police and then deleted. Headlines in newspapers referred to a child pornography ring uncovered. Charges were being considered from possession of child pornography to distribution of child pornography. As I listened to my friend all I could think of was our community and our kids and how this ability to share naked photos is an unintended consequence of cell phones. I’m sure no parents ever give their kids a cell phone thinking this is going to happen. But it is happening everywhere. And I started to think about what we need to do as a society to change this. How do we teach our children about what is public and what is private when there Is so much around them in the media, facebook, twitter, instagram, cell phones etc that lets anyone put anything out into the world in an instant? As I parent I worry about the world my daughter is growing up in. And then I come back to the retreat and the possibilities around wise parenting, wise action, wise conversation and how that can apply to wise use of technology. As parents, we are the only ones who can teach our kids in a wise and compassionate way about these things. And we must. We have to have regular conversations that don’t shut the kids down but instead open the door for good conversations about how they deal with challenging circumstances they face. As parents we have to keep evolving and staying to present with the realities of the world that our kids are living in. It wasn’t possible for us to send a naked picture when we were their age. It is now.