My daughters are growing up in a home with altars. They watch me meditating, journaling, and doing other practices near little tables with intentional groups of objects. They know I’m calmer after I practice. They ask me questions about what I’m doing and have started to experiment with their own spaces.
When my older daughter was 5, she put pictures of her best friends and a soft blanket in one corner of her room. She asked me about my mala beads and started using a beaded bracelet with a mantra she picked: “I love my family. I love my family.” She told me that after sitting there, she felt like she didn’t need to talk as fast. I loved that description.
My younger daughter had a series of nightmares a few months ago and didn’t want to go to sleep. Our compromise was that she could take the picture of Durga from my altar and keep it next to her bed. Surely, that fierce, compassionate protectoress can influence dreams, right? Now she talks to Durga before bedtime. I remind her that in my practice, I’m using these divine representations to access a quality that’s already in me. I want to plant the seed that she can summon her inner Durga whenever she wants.
Sounds pretty idyllic, right? Here’s the other side of this practice that is also true. When we refreshed our altars for the new moon, the girls found multiple things to fight about. They wanted the same oracle cards, the same fabric, the same flowers. They were somewhat interested in feminine cycles and intention setting. Mostly, they were focused on making rules about how many objects they could pick and who got to choose first.
Talking to them about creating a quiet place made me really, really need to go to my quiet place.
This is how spiritual practice with my family is right now. There is a constant invitation to pause, notice my reactions, connect to my intentions, and not get attached to the way I thought it should go. After all, it is all unfolding exactly as it should.