Have you ever just sat and watched the clouds? I remember as a kid just lying on the grass, watching the clouds go by and pretending they were intricate shapes, people, places, or characters. It’s funny because I always saw a bunny. I imagined that she was hopping on by, so swiftly because she had to travel the entire world before she dissipated and turned into something else; such was her energy. Like everything else in the world and beyond, the bunny cloud was temporary. As a kid this made me sad. I didn’t have the words for it at the time-I didn’t really fully understand why I was sad while simultaneously in awe.
I notice that the idea of change and impermanence saddens and frightens kids when they begin to understand that everything is constantly shifting, transforming, and molding itself into something new. Time included. Sometimes when I gaze at the clouds now, with my own children, I’ll notice that they sometimes hang on to the cloud and their idea of what it should be and how long it should remain; myself, not so much anymore.
Yoga, while the science of the mind according to the great yogic sage Patanjali, is also the contemplation of time, change, and being. When you practice yoga in your daily life, you begin to accept those things that you cannot or maybe even would not change. You seek to improve those things that you can, but there is still the realization that like a cloud, those ideas and things will change. Change and impermanence is the temporary nature of life. The first step to becoming okay with the seemingly disappearance of the bunny cloud, is to accept this characteristic as the very framework for which life exists.
When explaining this to kids, lie down on your mats and watch the sky. Point out the beauty and encourage them to point out what they find mesmerizing. Ask them how long they think the cloud will stay in its current form. If they say “forever”, allow them to keep that thought for now-there is no harm in their system of belief because their mind will eventually…change. If they give a more concrete response, make it an experiment and set a timer. Notice if the cloud disappears before you or if it moves out of your line of view prior to changing form. If you’re able to see it change, ask your student/child what they think it is now. How is it the same and how is it different? If you are not able to see it change, ask them what they think happened to the cloud. In either case, they’ll begin to understand that the change did not impact the integrity or the energy of the cloud. They will begin to understand that change is normal, natural, and to be expected.
The earlier that people come to this realization, the easier it is to accept what comes our way and react accordingly. It helps us to change our perspective and encourages us to live fully in the present moment. Like a cloud, we adapt and mold ourselves so that we too can “see the world”.