My mother is a school teacher. Every summer my mother goes to conferences about natural parenting. She always comes home with some new idea that she is convinced is the perfect new tool. My siblings have always joked that she goes through parenting ideas like some of her friends go through kitchen appliance- she hears of the new “best appliance,” buys it, uses it for a few months, and then lets it sit on the counter. So, when our mother comes home from one of these conferences we usually don’t give them much thought.
This past summer, my mother heard about a spirituality retreat in the Swiss Alps. She had never been to Switzerland, and we all thought it was crazy for her to spend so much money to go to one of her “silly” conferences. Nevertheless, my mother decided to make the investment. She argued that she had heard that spirituality was known to reduce stress, and she posited that there was no better place in the world to learn to relax than the Swiss Alps. Rather than spending for a visit in Huntington Beach wellness center. Consequently, my mother packed her bags, and left my father in charge of the house for two weeks.
Two weeks later, our mother came back. Despite our resistance, we had no choice but to admit that our mother returned from the conference totally rejuvenated and energized. For the next few weeks it seemed like my mother didn’t stop talking about all the benefits of a more spiritual life. She cited medical studies showing that spiritual people exhibit fewer self-destructive behaviors such as smoking and alcohol abuse. Paying for medical expenses on a health center can be eliminated. Additionally, my mother said that the mentors explained that people who engage in more spiritual activity actually report greater total life satisfaction and Orange County wellness. Additionally, she told us that in her very short experience she felt much less stressed and happier overall – despite (or maybe because of) the fact that she was away from all of us.
My mother explained that spiritual beliefs and activity can help serve as an outlet and a coping mechanism for both positive and negative life experiences. Additionally, spirituality can help give a framework and guild-lines for living and provide meaning in people’s lives. After it became more clear that this new idea was not simply a passing fad, we all wanted to know what her intentions were for implementing this plan to lead a more spiritual life.
As time went on it became clear. We started having “singing” evenings, as my mother called them. After we all finished our homework my mother called us all into the living room. She dimmed the lights and lit some incense. At the beginning she would hand out song sheets to my brothers and I, but as time went on we learned the songs. The truth is, that even though we all pretended that this new family tradition was stupid, as time went on it became one of the most cherished times of the week for all of us.
We tried all sorts of other “spiritual” activities as a family such as meditation and painting in the wilderness. We enjoyed some of them more and others less, and some of them lasted longer than others. However, six years later the singing is still going strong and has become an extremely integral part of my family’s life. In fact, it is hard to imagine a time when my brothers and I did not know all the songs by heart. Over the years I have learned to play the violin and my older brother learned to play the triangle (I know, not your average instrument!).
It is hard to quantify what these hours of sitting in a candle-lit room singing has done for my brothers, me, and my parents. I think each of us has been affected by the music in different ways. As a family we have bonded deeply over this special time that we have together and that sets us apart from the other families in the community. I have become more deeply connected with each one of my siblings and each of my parents as individuals as well. I don’t yet have my own family, but I am certain, that I will try to implement this as much as possible into my future life.
Harbour Health Center
16831 1/2 Algonquin St
Huntington Beach, CA 92649