Once a week we answer a question submitted from a customer about a problem they are facing, and advise on the best way to overcome it with the help of spirituality. The question can be anything from family or work, to different ways to practice spirituality.
This week, we heard from Andrea, who is struggling to feel connected to her family due to conflicting schedules and technology taking up so much time, and wants to know if she can create a connection using spiritual techniques.
Q - I wondered if you could help me with my problem feeling connected with my family. My husband works long hours and my children are at school and college, so they’re all out of the house most of the day. But when they are at home, I still hardly see or talk to them because they’re either watching TV or on their phones and computers - even at meal times! I’m a spiritual person, and I practice meditation every night, but they don’t really understand it. How can I use spiritual techniques to reconnect with them, without them feeling weird? - Andrea
A - Thanks so much for your question, Andrea. This problem is unfortunately becoming more and more common within families; teenagers are becoming more dependent on laptops, tablets, and mobiles for communication, and it is becoming harder to forge meaningful, personal connections. Trust me, you’re not on your own.
It’s fantastic that you already practice spirituality yourself, and I completely understand your concern about your children finding some spiritual exercises ‘weird’; it’s natural to dismiss things you don’t understand. However, there are some exercises you can introduce to your daily life that will ease your family into practicing spirituality, and help you begin to find time to connect with them again.
My first suggestion is to try to cut down on the time spent on technology. This will probably be an unpopular suggestion, but ease into it and cut back slowly. Start with the dinner table; create a rule that says no technology during meal times, and instead use the time to talk to each other. If you’re struggling for things to talk about - teenagers are sometimes not the easiest to get conversation out of! - go around the table and have everyone share one good thing from their day. You may learn something about what your family members are up to that you wouldn’t have heard otherwise!
It’s amazing how much a simple conversation can help you feel closer to somebody. Once you, your husband and children are used to having these regular conversations around the table, you could move the conversation onto deeper subjects. One of my favourite spiritual subjects is gratitude. Whilst going round the table and talking about what you’ve all been up to, ask your family to name one thing they’re grateful for that day. This will encourage them to think deeper and more positively about their experiences.
Another suggestion is to invite your family to join you in your daily spiritual practices. You say your children don’t really understand meditation, so invite them to join you one evening and explain what it is and why you do it. You don’t even need to use the word ‘meditate’; simply ask them to join you for some quiet reflection. Explain that you like to take a few minutes each evening to just sit quietly and reflect on your life. If they feel strange, encourage them to use the time to think about their day, what they achieved, and what they would like to achieve the next day. Explain that it is simply a time to take stock of their lives without being distracted by technology.
Meditation would be particularly useful for your husband, if you can persuade him to join you. Working long hours must be tiring and stressful. Joining you even for five or ten minutes in the evening to sit quietly and reflect will help him relax.
Getting out into nature is another way to help you connect. Take a weekend and go on a day trip or a hike - preferably somewhere with little phone reception! Simply being outside and surrounded by nature does wonders for body and soul.
One more thing I can suggest to help you connect is to focus on a project that you can all work on together. This could be something like volunteering for a charity, or a DIY project, or maybe even sign up for a race and train together. This will allow you to spend time with your family and will also give everyone a sense of accomplishment once it is finished.