Halloween can be a fun and exciting holiday. It’s a time for us to dress creatively and celebrate self-expression. In western culture, it is also typically a holiday that doesn’t encourage the healthiest eating habits.
If you’re a parent, you may find yourself in a tricky situation during Halloween (no pun intended). On one hand, you want your children to have fun and enjoy everything that the holiday has to offer. On the other hand, you may be concerned that they’ll eat too much candy.
This is a similar dilemma to what Lee experiences, so I sat down with him to see if he has any tips or recommendations on how to be a responsible and fun parent during the year’s scariest celebration.
Finding The Right Balance
We already touched upon the need for balance. It’s important to teach children how to have a healthy diet, but it’s also important to encourage them to have fun. After all, celebrating joy is one of the biggest lessons that Lee teaches in Qi Gong.
For Lee, he lets his children run around the streets and trick or treat with all of their friends. Of course, he keeps an eye on them to make sure they stay safe. After they’ve had a great time and returned home with bags full of candy, Lee teaches them a lesson in moderation.
Instead of letting his children go wild with their candy consumption, he asks them to choose their five favorite pieces to eat. This prompts them to ask “serious” questions about what is important to them (Reece’s Pieces vs. Snickers Bar?). Although one’s candy preference is a pretty trivial matter, it still encourages a level of thoughtfulness around consumption.
The next thing he does is trade unhealthy candy for more healthy desserts, such as high-quality chocolate, smoothies, or fruit. This enables Lee to reduce the amount of processed sugar that his kids consume while encouraging healthier choices.
Celebrating Joyful Expression
In addition to teaching about healthy eating choices, Lee also uses the holiday to further celebrate joy and creativity. Children naturally have powerful imaginations that can create wonderful characters and stories. While there’s nothing wrong with sitting back and letting your kids play by themselves, it can also be quite fun to engage with their childhood magic. Not only will your kids love dressing up and playing with you, but you’ll get a lot out of it yourself.
Although children don’t usually require much help to be creative and imaginative, society does have a tendency to dampen their vibrant spirits as they get older. Therefore, it’s important to not take your child’s joy for granted. The more you can encourage and celebrate the spirit of creativity and silliness, the more likely they are to maintain a lighthearted and positive attitude as they grow older. After all, that’s one of the primary reasons adults practice Qi Gong… to return to our natural state of childlike joy.
In Lee’s case, he fully engages in the process of dressing up with his kids. He even coordinates his Halloween costume with theirs and lets them do his face paint.
Teaching the Tradition of Halloween
In 2019, many people may not know why we celebrate Halloween. As fun as it may be to dress up and eat candy, there’s more to the occasion than meets the eye.
In last year’s Halloween blog post, we talked about the cultural and historical significance of the ancient holiday. Throughout history, people from all parts of the world have recognized the importance of acknowledging friends and family members who have passed away.
Just as we seek to cultivate love and appreciation for living relatives, we also have a lot to be grateful for from those who have come before us. Each generation builds upon the previous, and every one of us is the recipient of millennia of growth, work, and evolutionary fortune. In essence, each of our lives is a beautiful gift from our ancestors. In Qi Gong, we call this prenatal Qi—the Qi (energy) that we inherited from our parents. This prenatal Qi combines with our postnatal Qi, which is the environmental element of our upbringing. Together, they form who you are.
In addition to celebrating joy and creativity, Lee also views Halloween as an opportunity to teach his children about their past. Before beginning the usual festivities, Lee sits with his kids and shares the stories of their grandparents and great grandparents. He tells them that each of their lives is something to be very grateful for. He also leads them in an exercise of appreciation. By sharing the story of Halloween, he seeks to ensure that the holiday isn’t just about dressing up, but also about gratitude and love.
Interested in trying the meditation for yourself?
Here’s a simple practice to cultivate a greater appreciation for your ancestors. This meditation focuses on the positive and is a great practice to share with both children and adults. Each person has a different relationship with their parents and ancestors, so this exercise can be a bit challenging for those who have troubled familial relationships. If this meditation doesn’t feel right for you, perhaps seek to heal those relationships before you try it. Try reading the meditation instructions in its entirety before you begin.
Take a few slow, deep breaths as you relax your body. Then, pay attention to the space behind you. Realize that energetically your parents are standing there. Try to bring up positive feelings or images. If pain emerges, realize it is there and then try to let it go. Concentrate on the presence of your parents behind you.
After a few moments, bring your attention to the space behind your parents. Realize that your grandparents are standing there. Feel their love and support of you. Once you’ve acknowledged your grandparents for a few moments, go back another step and find your great grandparents standing behind them. Again, feel their love and pay attention to your own appreciation and gratitude for them. Continue going back as far as you’d like. Soon, you’ll feel a long line of ancestors standing behind you. Realize that each and every one of them is essential for your existence. Feel your gratitude and give thanks to them.
Do this practice for ten minutes. Once your ancestors are behind you, you can focus your attention on the positive feelings you experience for them. Continue to take deep breaths. As you inhale, you can imagine taking in all of the positivity and vitality that they’ve given you. As you exhale, you can imagine letting go of any negative patterns that have affected you. Inhaling positive, exhaling negative. Feeling love, appreciation, and gratitude. Your ancestors are there for you, and you appreciate them.
This is the true spirit of Halloween.
From all of us here at Holden QiGong, we wish you a very wonderful holiday and look forward to celebrating more Qi together.
Written by Ian Drogin