Meditating with Your Children
we had enlightened parents who would have taught us how to meditate
when we were children, our lives would have been so much richer; our
life choices so much sounder, and so much more in line with our real
talents and passions. But, alas, many of us were not so blessed. Yet we
can provide this for our children.
and foremost, it is through meditation that we can nourish in our
children a sense that they are never alone, that they are always in
loving company, and that they can always find an embracing feeling in
their hearts. As a parent, this is, from my point of view, the most
precious gift we can bestow upon our children.
well as instilling a feeling of love and well-being in our children,
meditation has many practical benefits. Meditation can help your
children sleep better; develop better concentration skills, which can
result in improved school performance; enhance their creativity and
self image; and help them to learn how to quiet themselves and deal
better with their anxieties.
In addition, teaching our children how
to meditate creates a wonderful way to ignite, rekindle, and/or deepen
our own practice of meditation. Because meditation helps us to relax
and open up our hearts, it allow us to spend real "quality time" with
our children, rekindling and/or deepening our relationship with them.
how can we begin to introduce this precious gift of meditation to our
children? First of all, introduce meditation as a fun, joyful time for
the whole family, as an opportunity to be relaxed. Creative, and
spontaneous together. Second, develop a regular practice and make it a
natural, integral part of the day. Set aside a specific time when the
whole family can regularly meditate (such as after dinner or just
before bed) and pick a quiet room where everyone can sit on chairs or
pillows comfortably. Do it consistently and joyfully, starting off with
just a few times a week, then gradually building up to doing it daily.
though, that in any situation, getting a child to cooperate is not
always the easiest thing to do; but, as in other things, by being
consistent in your own meditation practice and lovingly persistent with
your child, most children will eagerly join in. If on any particular
day a child is unwilling to meditate, give her/him the choice of doing
another quiet activity. Eventually, you will see that they will choose
to meditate, more often than not.
too, that the regular daily family time for meditation can be extended
to include time for sharing feelings and ideas and for ironing out
problems and developing trust. After meditating, you will be surprised
at how much easier it is to express oneself sensitively and openly and
how much less complicated it is to find a solution to a family
What follows is a brief outlining of how to introduce meditation to children of different age groups.
infants to 3-year-olds, the primary goal is to get them to learn how to
sit still. We can do this by sitting quietly with them for a few
minutes and just tuning into our breath or into them with no other
distractions. By doing so, just for a few moments, we are helping them
experience a quiet, peaceful time with us. Our goal here is simply to
model a time of quiet for them.
as they get more active and pass through the "terrible twos," we can
still spend a few moments with them teaching them how to be quiet. Most
children can handle one or two minutes of quiet time at this age.
Chanting OM, or just listening to or singing a soothing lullaby with
them can be a great way to introduce quiet time to a child. My wife and
I do this with our 2-year-old and he looks forward to it every night.
your child reaches the age of 3, you can begin to introduce actual
meditation exercises and even expect them to stay focused for a few
minutes- even one minute is enough. The child can be taught to chant OM
with you or perhaps chant the name of a religious figure. As well,
he/she can be led through the following exercise: Have the child sit
cross-legged or in a chair with their back comfortably erect. Have them
close their eyes and breathe in and out through their nose slowly,
counting to four on the in and on the out breath. Have them take about
10 breaths like this. Then have them imagine that they are safely
floating on an emerald green lake in a light blue boat on a stack of
cream-colored pillows. On each inhalation the boat rises slightly and
on each exhalation it falls ever so gently. Have them coordinate their
breathing with the image and sensation of floating in the boat. Start
with a minute of this and gradually build to a few minutes. If the
child is very tense on a particular day, have them first tense and
release different parts of their body beginning with the face and then
moving down to the toes. Then do the above meditation.
children 6-10 years of age, more self-discipline can be expected. After
some practice, they can be expected to meditate at least 5 to 10
minutes a day, but please do not force anything on them. The following
concentration exercises are appropriate for children in this age group.
Use what I offer as a guideline for what they can do, and then use your
own creativity to come up with a variety of other fun things that your
children might enjoy. Have the child concentrate on a watch or clock
with a second hand and have him focus on the dial going around the
clock. Instruct him not to let anything distract him-any noises,
thoughts, etc. See how long he can do it. Even keep a progress chart.
The same exercise can be done by looking at a candle flame, a flower,
the child has become relaxed by doing the floating in the boat
exercise, have her now imagine that she is barefoot at the top of a
staircase. The staircase is thickly carpeted in a color of her choice.
Have her begin by putting one foot down after the other as you slowly
count her down: 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. Now at the bottom o f the
staircase there is door. When she opens the door and walks inside, she
walks inside her heart. Have her explore what it feels like to be in
her heart, physically, and then, emotionally. Then have her ask her
heart a question, internally - not out loud. Give her a moment or two
to listen for an answer. Gradually bring her out of the meditation by
having her become aware first of her feet, then her arms, and finally
her head. If she would like, have her discuss her experience and
feelings. With all these exercises you can play some calm background
music, if you wish.
children 11-15 years of age their minds are really beginning to develop
as is their ability to truly reason and discriminate. They are capable
of longer periods of concentration depending on how adjusted and
emotionally balanced they are. For most, this is a very turbulent
period. Spending "quality time" with them is important during this time
in their lives. Try the following mediation with them. Begin by having
them do the breathing and lake relaxation exercise. Then lead them in
this tree meditation: Imagine you are a tree. Feel that you are deep
inside the center of a tree, the tree is your body. How does it feel?
(pause), now feel your roots goings deep into the earth (pause), now
feel the bark as part of your body (pause), now feel the sap running
through you (pause), now feel all of the branches as part of you
(pause), now feel all leaves as part of you (pause), now feel the
breeze gently rustling your leaves and the sun warming you (pause), now
feel a bird’s nest in your branches (pause), feel all of this life
running through you and around you (pause). Then slowly bring them out
of the meditation as above. You can do similar exercises with the wind,
water, fire, a bird, the sil, a flower, etc. This exercise can last
anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
this, discuss their experience with them and their feelings about it.
Let the discussion be free flowing. Children older then 15 can be led
in the same meditation exercises that adults do.
it is easy to begin to incorporate meditation into your family life. It
does not take up too much time, and it gives you something to focus on
in your "quality time" with your children. Be assured, meditation will
deepen the trust and openness of your relationship with your children,
and it will help them enormously in developing greater self-reliance,
creativity, happiness, self-awareness, health, and a stronger, more
positive self-image. It will also help them be more in touch with their
feelings and know how to most appropriately express them. And, finally,
meditating with your children will bestow these same "gifts" upon you.
So, why not begin today?