Being with children as a mother or a teacher has been my own special path to God. I spent 30 years raising 4 active children, much of that time  at Ananda village. When my youngest child left for college, I began teaching pre-school.

If I had any regrets in raising my children, it was that I was not as firmly established on the spiritual path as I am now. In becoming a preschool teacher, I received a wonderful gift – the opportunity to put into practice everything I have learned as a devotee and a mother, and to serve other people’s children as though they were my own. 

A frustrating month

In the fall of 2004, I felt inspired to take the early childhood education classes that would give me the teaching credential needed to teach preschool. Although I was told there were no openings at Ananda preschool, I knew this was something I needed to do. Three months later, the preschool teacher left unexpectedly and I was called upon to take over her class midyear.

Every day that first month was challenging mainly because I couldn’t get the class calm enough to participate in any activities. There were a few “wild” ones in the group – high energy, strong-willed children whose reluctance to settle down influenced the others.

During “circle time” for example, the children and I would sit in a circle on the floor for the start of various activities. But as soon as we sat down, one or two of them might get up and walk away; or a few of them might start talking and soon everyone would be talking; or someone might poke the child next to him and then chaos would reign. It went on like this day after day.

One day during circle time I became desperate. I knew I was going to lose control of the class if I didn’t find a way to calm their energy. Silently I called on my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, and asked, “What can I do to make this work?” In that moment I received the inspiration for “Quiet Bodies.”

Getting the children to say “yes”

Quiet Bodies is simply sitting cross legged, with eyes closed and not moving for a few minutes. It’s unusual, however, to think that three and four-year-olds can sit quietly that long. Learning and growth in the preschool years occurs primarily through the body; that’s why young children are so constantly active. The key challenge of those years is learning to control and discipline the body.

In order to get the children to do Quiet Bodies, I needed to create an aura of specialness around the experience; making an activity “magical” and fun gets them to say “yes.” With the children sitting in a circle, I held up “Mr. Blue Jay,” a small hand puppet that sits on two fingers. “Mr. Blue Jay” was very special to them because we used it only for circle time.

So while holding up Mr. Blue Jay I told them what “Mr Blue Jay” wanted them to do (not what I wanted them to do), and that when it was time to open their eyes, “Mr. Blue Jay” would tap each of them on the forehead. From that moment on, Quiet Bodies became a regular part of our daily school activities. Quiet bodies continued to evolve over the course of the school year, but “Mr. Blue Jay” remained a constant. 

I realised soon after, however, that to maintain an atmosphere of calmness during the four hours the children and I were together, I needed to be calmer and more centered myself. Often I became so outwardly engaged with the children that it was difficult to remain in the presence of God.

When I’m not deeply calm, I can’t convey to the children how wonderful it is to sit quietly with their eyes closed. If I can’t still my thoughts and feelings, how can I expect the children to still their bodies? “True teaching is vibrational,” Swami Kriyananda writes. He says that our vibrations change people much more than our words, and that the best way to influence someone else’s behavior is to be strong in those qualities oneself. 

He gives the example of a mother who took her young son to Mahatma Gandhi and asked Gandhi to tell the little boy not to eat so many sweets. Gandhi told her to come back in a week. When the mother returned a week later, and Gandhi told the boy not to eat too many sweets, she asked why he couldn’t have said that a week ago. Gandhi replied “A week ago I was eating sweets myself.”

Staying in the Flow

Strengthening my meditation practice and learning how to work effectively with the preschool children have gone hand in hand. During my child raising years, I often had to put my meditation practice on “hold”. For twenty years I said an affirmation: “I will meditate. I can’t right now but I will meditate”, and it has finally paid off. 

My meditation practice is much stronger now and I can share with the children one of the deepest aspects of the spiritual path – the upliftment and centeredness that come with daily meditation and God-contact. 

When I’m calm and centred, there’s a “flow” that comes; I know when I’m in it and when I’ve stepped out of it. Whenever the children’s energy is “off”, I first check to see if I’m still in the flow. If not, I raise my energy and call on God. The more “out of the flow” I become, the more energy I put into calling on God and surrendering to his guidance in that moment.

When I’m back in the flow and a child misbehaves, I put my aura around the child and use my energy to quiet him or her. Swami Kriyananda says that when he places people in positions of leadership, he expands his consciousness to include them, supporting and strengthening them. I do something similar with the children.

I need to do Quiet Bodies now

Quiet Bodies, however, has been the most important factor in creating an atmosphere of calmness with the preschoolers. Now, when the children sense the need to bring their energy back to centre, they either ask to do Quiet Bodies or start reminding each other that it’s “circle time.”

This even happens outside of school. One child was at the river with his mother and suddenly said, “I need to do Quiet Bodies now.” He sat down with his legs crossed, closed his eyes, and became very still for some time. 

The children are so pleased when they have brought the physical body under control because their souls know this is what they’re supposed to learn at this time. That’s why they enjoy showing that they can do Quiet Bodies. When visiting her grandmother, one child said, “Grandma watch me do Quiet Bodies.” She sat down and showed her grandmother how long she could sit still. 

The children do Quiet Bodies for two minutes at the start of the school year. Toward the end of the year they usually can do it for four to five minutes. By that time I am also encouraging them to listen to the sound of their breathing. I never question them about their inner experience, nor do I encourage time to talk about them. Doing so might make the experience competitive, which would undermine its value.

A time to plant seeds

These preschool years are the time to plant seeds of good habits. Swami Kriyananda writes that children are especially receptive at this age because, “They’re a little closer to where we’ve all come from. They haven’t yet fully taken on a new personality or a new body with its habits.”

Quiet Bodies is a tool that enables children to tap into their soul nature. It gives them the chance to see and feel the effects of their own energy, and to begin to understand the difference between restless, scattered energy and quiet, peaceful energy. It is the first step on the long journey to becoming calm, centered adults.

Hassi Bazan taught at Ananda Village Living Wisdom Preschool for many years. 

Cultivating Moral And Spiritual Values

Lesson #2: Maturity 101 – Flour Babies (ages 12 and up); a project weve adapted from other sources
Life Skill Charts that can be used as supplements: Expanding Sensitivity, Building Will power.

Purpose: This activity helps teenagers gain experience in taking responsibility, as well as getting a glimpse of  what its like to be a parent. It works best when the activity is a part of an ongoing, graded class (Health, Family Life, etc.)

Materials needed for each student: 5 pound sack of flour, plastic bag, duct tape, baby clothes from thrift store

Preliminary Activities: Creating the Baby

Place the flour sack in plastic bag.

Create a head by rolling rags or strips of an old sheet.

Use duct tape to seal seal the bag and position the head. 

Make sure the baby is still fragile and needs careful attention.

Pick out clothes and place on the baby (duct tape can help)

Cant be cruel or ugly, emphasize compassion

Fill out a Birth Certificate with name, parents, address, etc.

Male/Female pick via chance

For more variety/challenge use special cards – twins, premature, blind…

The Assignment

For the coming week, each student will be in charge of a flour baby”. They will bring their babies to school each day and take them home at night and over the weekend. The baby can never be left unattended for more than 10 minutes. Students can arrange for babysitters (parents, friends, etc.) on a hire, trade, or volunteer basis.

  1. If you bring your baby back at the end of the week undamaged, emotionally cared for, and physically intact, you have completed the project. But if your baby is damaged, you will need to continue the assignment for a second week or longer. Grades for the project will reflect the student’s level of responsibility.
  2. A kidnapping occurs when a teacher (not a student) takes possession of the baby and is able to leave the room unnoticed. The first and second occurrences serve as a reminder to pay closer attention. The third strike means you have another week of baby care.
  1. If you think there are extenuating circumstances, you can challenge one or more of the kidnappings by petitioning to have your case heard at Baby Court. You must have a completed form with signatures from 5 students who agree that you have a case. You will make your presentation in front of a teacher/judge and a jury consisting of students who have not been the victim of a kidnapping. Jury can increase or decrease consequences (instead of extra week only a day, etc.), after hearing evidence. If there is a conviction, the judge can opt to have the signers help the plaintiff care for the baby during extension, helping students realize the importance of thinking before signing.


When you have completed the assignment, you will need to complete a Reflection questionnaire as part of receiving credit for the project.

Survey Question Corresponding Life Skill Charts
1) I am energetic and enthusiastic Forming Healthy Habits, Getting Up in the Morning
2) I am comfortable with who I am. Choosing Happiness, Practicing Peace
3) I strive to improve myself. Building Will Power, Living Truth
4) I give up easily when things get difficult. Building Will Power, Cultivating Courage
5) I have a hard time relaxing physically. Practicing Peace, Forming Healthy Habits
6) I am cheerful and even-minded. Nurturing Even-Mindedness, Choosing Happiness,
7) I am aware of the needs of others. Working with Others, Expanding Sensitivity
8) I can’t concentrate if there are distractions. Developing Concentration, Sharpening the Mind
9) I get my responsibilities done on time. Building Will Power
10) I get plenty of physical activity. Forming Healthy Habits
11) I appreciate beauty in art, nature, and music. Expanding Sensitivity
12) My mind works in original and creative ways. Sharpening the Mind, Exploring Flexibility
13) I don’t sit and stand up straight. Forming Healthy Habits
14) I always follow constructive guidance. Building Will Power, Living Truth
15) I am tolerant with people even when I disagree with them. Exploring Flexibility, Expanding Sensitivity
16) When I wake up in the morning, I feel refreshed & energetic. Getting Up in the Morning
17) I don’t think about the reasons for my behavior. Living Truth, Building Will Power
18) I forget things. Sharpening the Mind
19) I avoid eating junk food. Gaining Control of Your Diet
20) I share my possessions, talents, and time with others. Working with Others
21) I can tell the difference between right and wrong. Living Truth, Practicing Peace
22) I value humor and look for ways to lighten serious situations. Choosing Happiness, Exploring Flexibility
23) I work well with others. Working with Others, Making Friends
24) I don’t always stand up for what I believe is true. Cultivating Courage, Building Will Power
25) I resist behavior that isn’t good for me or others. Building Will Power, Cultivating Courage
26) I express my gratitude to those who help me. Working with Others
27) I respond to challenges with initiative and energy. Building Will Power, Exploring Flexibility
28) I cultivate feelings of peace, joy, and love. Practicing Peace, Choosing Happiness
29) Sometimes I don’t bathe or brush my teeth Forming Healthy Habits
30) I like to learn new things. Sharpening the Mind, Exploring Flexibility
31) I work to keep my body flexible and agile. Forming Healthy Habits
32) I don’t always tell the truth. Living Truth