by Sarai Shapiro, founder of Gaia Girls Passages.
At the end of our Gaia Girls parent only gatherings, when parents are asked to make an intention to bring home, it almost always related to slowing down and being in the moment with their daughters and family. If you ask most modern adults to take a long hard look at their childhood and what was missing, it often comes down to presence, true present moment connection with their parents. We NEED this from our caregivers, and we need this from life. The pace that modern life has set for us is unprecedented, and does not take into consideration how our bodies, minds, emotions, and nervous systems evolved to stay in true balance and vitality. Being a modern parent means that you will pass your relationship with time down to your children unless you make a concerted effort to bring more slowness and presence into your family life.
Some tools we offer to parents to use at home to bring more presence into family life are:
Having “special time” with each of your kids, once a week, even if it is for 15-30 minutes, where they get to decide what you are doing. Put a timer on so you both know what the container is for your time together. Cell phone is away, and your undivided attention is with them following their lead for that time period. (From Hand in Hand Parenting)
Plan nature time into your family’s life with a walk or picnic in the local park several times a season. Nature is a huge support for our nervous system to re-set to a slower, more sustainable pace. Nature inherently moves at a “natural” pace. We humans are the ones trying to speed up production and crunching time. The rest of the natural world is holding the steady drumbeat of deep presence in every moment. Non-human animals’ life depends on it. If they are thinking about the past or future, and not completely sensorily aware of their surroundings, they will likely be eaten very quickly!
Have time for family sharing where each person gets a chance to share and be listened to. At Gaia Girls we use a talking stick. Your family can use any special object that you have or that you make together. Whoever is holding the talking piece has the power to speak, and everyone else has the power to listen, without interruption. This can happen once a week around dinner or on the weekend, and can be used intentionally when there is a conflict in the family.
One special offering from us that offers girls and female caregivers a chance to be in presence together is at Artemis Village each summer. We have found summer after summer that being on the land together for a full week (for the girls), away from most modern technology and screens, does something profound for the girls, and also allows for a renewed connection between mothers and daughters (when moms join us for the weekend), that is hard to create in the midst of the hustle bustle of modern life.
What one mothers had to say about Artemis Village:
“Being part of the Gaia Girls community not only supports my girls with strengthening all the beautiful parts of who they are but, I believe, also supports a needed shift in our world with how we connect to one another and the world around us. I can not speak highly enough about how Gaia Girls has impacted our lives. A universe of stars to you Gaia Girls.. thank you for all the ways you have moved our the souls!”
~ Sara Bearman
Poem from a Gaia Girl at her “sit spot” by a creek:
on a blanket
to all. Sunlight.
on the river,
giving life to ferns
living on the river bank.
This place is deserted
from human habitation.
No footprints to be seen. Only me
and the plants and animals.
Living in peace,
living in harmony.
Blackberries twist and twirl,
providing fruit for the animals.
Spirals and circles,
leaflets and leaves,
blossoms and flowers.
Riverlight, help shine the way,
for our culture needs a lot of help
to find the place
we were meant to go.
~Ayla Redding, age 10