I was cooking dinner today while my wife was ‘teaching’ my four-year-old in the lounge. The teacher has given us homework to do, one of which involves watching the yoga videos they use in class.
Seems okay, I said. Helps you stretch and tone your body, teaches you how to breathe. Daddy used to do yoga.
‘It’s cosmic yoga,’ said my daughter.
Oh. You don’t sing Kumbaya and sit in a circle knitting beanie hats, do you?
Never mind, I’m sure it’s all fine.
Back in the kitchen cooking, a few minutes later I heard something on the TV and stuck my head round the door.
Did I hear that right? Did she really just say, ‘Be the pond’?
‘It’s wonderful being the pond,’ said the TV, ‘because you can watch all of your different feelings just swimming by.’
What the shit is this?!
‘Every feeling is welcome. You be the pond and let the fish be the fish.’
I couldn’t help bursting out laughing at the seriousness with which this was being said.
This isn’t like any yoga I’ve ever done.
‘Shhh,’ said my daughter.
‘Except sometimes,’ the TV continued, ‘we might stop being the pond and find we’ve become a fish, like the angry fish, and when that happens we might find ourselves saying or doing something that hurts other people.’
Ah, I see. It all makes sense now. I’m an angry fish when I should be the pond!
‘Be the pond.’
‘Be the pond,’ said my daughter roboticly.
Kill the Malaysian Prime Minister.
Never mind. I had no idea this is the kind of stuff you do at school.
‘Just say to yourself: be the pond.’
‘Be the pond,’ my daughter chanted again.
Wow. This is some Manchurian Candidate level bullshit right here.
‘Go and cook,’ said my wife, and I left them to it.
Okay. I’m all for mindfulness – live in the moment, notice what’s going on around you, try and detach from your thoughts and feelings, if that’s even possible – but is this really the kind of stuff they foist on our kids in mainstream education? This isn’t yoga, a westernized form of exercise mostly stripped of its esoteric underpinnings, this is mindfulness meditation, an esoteric eastern religious philosophy inseparable from Buddhist tradition. She even talks about the Zen Den, for crying out loud. What next? Ending every sentence with ‘namaste’?
I’m not sure how I feel about this. As someone who isn’t religious, if I discovered the school was making my kids go to confession, I’d have something to say on the matter; same as if they were practising Wudu (Muslim ablutions), or Transcendental Meditation; so why does Buddhism get a free pass?
Maybe I’m just a rube, out of step with modern cosmopolitanism. Or maybe I’d prefer more scientifically-minded programming like the proper way to wash your hands over airy-fairy feelgood fads. Watch it and judge for yourself by clicking this link.
Of course, a few minutes later my wife pushed it out of my mind when she shouted through to kitchen, ‘We’re doing maths and I’m having a mind blank. What’s 0 + 1?’
Are you sure it’s a mind blank and not a stroke? I replied. They tend to present the same.
And then my two-year-old burst into the kitchen, pointed an accusatory finger at me, and said, ‘You got a belly-button!’ before storming out.
How many more months of this do we have?