I am into rocks, all sizes and shapes. Some grab my attention and want to come home with me. Others just want to be admired. Sometimes heart rocks jump out when I hike along trails.
Children love rocks too. They can admire them, find similarities and differences, and collect them. They too feel and use them to find deeper meanings. In their love to show them, it’s easy to slow down and have two sets of hands and eyes admiring them.
Rocks become bookmarks for my day. They remind me to stop and breathe and see a bigger picture. They represent a rhythm of life deeper than our fast-paced usual 3-D reality.
One teacher of young children used four rocks to represent singing, dancing, silence and story-telling, the rhythm of life for the children. This group of children, challenged by life situations, felt seen and cared for, and, in time, sensed a coming home to themselves. The rocks were their bookmarks, reminding them of their felt-sense connection with singing, dancing, silence and story-telling. The rocks reminded the teacher of the Maori origins of the teaching.
Thich Nhat Hanh, in A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles, uses the pebbles to teach children a breathing meditation. They see themselves as a flower, a mountain, water, and space, while sensing feeling fresh, feeling solid, reflection on things as they are, and feeling free. Recently, inspired by Thich Nat Han’s book, I asked an older child to choose three large pebbles, each representing something for which he is grateful. We talked about the qualities of the rocks that reminded him of each thing or person. In silence, he felt and looked at the rocks, giving birth to each story of gratitude, and where he found that in his body. The rocks, their solidity and sensations gave deeper meaning and a felt sense to our activity.
What rock might you discover today? And, even more important, what deeper meaning would it give you? If not a rock, what helps you “bookmark” your day to remember breath, rhythm, and what is really important?