I was recently asked about meditation for children and I was replying I thought what a wonderful topic for today’s blog post.
The Age of Innocence
From 0 – 7 our children are in their innocence stage which means they are, most of the time living in the present moment; the space where all knowing stems from. However, with each year that passes their environment will prompt them to look into the past and the future, and with human time constraints they will have to start to work at spending time in the now. During these years our young ones are like sponges soaking up their environment, family, beliefs and behaviours. Much of our programming stems from this age bracket.
Meditation is a great way of doing that, it allows us to slow down the thoughts and be at one; at peace and open. Meditation takes us to the other side of the thoughts and invites in the knowledge, the genius, the guidance and the freedom our soul cherishes. Meditation can be as short as a minute or two or many hours long. Many people do a morning and evening meditation, while some do just one. Meditation is not a restricted structured practice and as one learns to reconnect with themselves they will find their own balance. However, it is never too young to learn and I feel that if schools could include meditation I their timetable, our children will create a quality environment in school, with their friends and at home. Doing it before exams brings clarity and before sleep, it leads to a restful slumber.
A good starting block is to work with the breath; taking a deep inhalation in allowing the belly to inflate like a balloon followed by a slow deep exhalation to deflate the balloon (This is a good visualisation of what is going on and children will find it easy to understand. Now, we can accept this breathing action in a number of ways such as;
• Our lungs are filling with oxygen to revitalise and regenerate our body
• Or we could immerse the self deeper and accept that each breath in is full of universal love passing through us and healing our soul before it moves on with the outwards breath
• Or with each inhalation we are connecting with spirit to guide us to freedom, internal beauty and unconditional love before we release any stagnant energy and blockages in order to create inner peace
Which ever works best for you, for me it is all three.
Breath work is a great way of taking the focus away from the thoughts allowing your mind to take a break, even a holiday.
Children get into a space of stillness very easily especially when you read to them. I found reading to my children created calmness, it caused them to still. During the day, the stories would be filled with different voices and tonality with hand movements to keep them interested and intrigued and then before bed, the stories would be soft and slowly narrated. I often found the books with no or limited words were the best for ad-lib, each time creating a new tale. There is a great little book called
Lead Them By What You Do
Another way of introducing your child to meditation is when they are happily playing you could explain that you are about to be still in meditation and you will be unable to answer their questions or play with them for the next 5 – 10 minutes and during this time could they agree to be as quiet as a mouse as you want to clear your mind (note: to meditate, silence is not required, the idea is to be at peace even when the noise is all around us).
Perhaps as they observe you, they will either honour your request and be rewarded with 5 – 10 minutes of your time after the meditation or you could invite them to join you. Sit on the floor with your back upright, lean against the sofa for support if necessary, then have them sit in front of you with their back to you, they can lean back into you if that is more comfortable for you both, now find a suitable way to put your arms around their waist, over their shoulders or rest them on their shoulders and set aside at least a 5 minute connection time. Either way whether it is just you meditating or you both are, the energy ripples out and your child will be within the vibration. Children do as we do way more than as we say. Children will emulate parents and incorporate these powerful tips at a younger age, if parents are also practising meditation. We are their role models.
Another idea would be to lead them through a guided meditation. Have them sit quietly and close their eyes. You could guide them through 3 breathes and then gently take them into the visualisation. I have included many suggestions but in each case pick one at each level. Next time you can pick a different one.
Have them create a wonderful place in their minds eye (imagination), suggest it to be in a field, a woodland, on the beach, by the camp fire or on top of the mountain; they don’t share it with you but keep slowly talking and guiding them to feel comfortable there. Explain this is one of their favourite places that is filled with magic. Have them look around and take it all in, the view, the colour, the feeling, the sounds, the smells if there are any. Allow them to submerge into the vision. When it feels right have them gently look into the distance where something has caught their attention, perhaps a bird singing, a flower blooming, an animal passing by, a chair or a box, tin or bag (these are all symbols). Focusing on the symbol, have them move closer to it. Invite them to connect with whatever it is; and either watch it, talk with it, touch it or play with it. Throughout the meditation create time space for them to explore the journey. Next have them ask internally to the symbol ‘I hear you have a gift or message for me, can I have it please? ’.
Give them a moment to receive the message and suggest they find a way to store it; either in her pocket, written on paper, in a jar, as a photograph or a recording. You will feel your way through this and when the time is right you suggest that she thanks the symbol for their time and wisdom and with the message safely tucked away have her slowly come back into the room.
This can take any where between a couple of minutes or be extended to as long as desired.
After meditation, have them share it with you; as much or as little as they choose. Ask them if they have any idea what the message means to them as this is one of the ways the universe can guide us.
You can meditate your self at the same time; yours will be a mindful meditation as you will be guiding both of you. Perhaps share your meditation with your child if that works for you as a child will see the message with innocence and without attachment. They could help you unravel a major challenge and find a conclusion.
Benefits and Bonding
Meditating with your child has heaps of benefits; you will both have down time, peace, stillness and clarity. You will have created a bonding and an activity that brings a wonderful connection between you both. Your child will learn how this great tool serves them, putting your mind as a parent to rest, enabling you to feel that they will be able to over-ride stresses of emotions, struggles, friendships and later in life help them with tensions around studies and exams.
This time spent together can be classed as precious time in our face paced world, for many of us we struggle to give our self permission to stop but we will find time for our children so why not make it a joint benefit as you and your child embraces the craft of meditation and visualisation.