"If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation."
The Dalai Lama
Adults face an array of pressures and are exposed to an array of things that affect their mind, body and soul. And, believe it or not, kids also feel these same pressures and things that affect them.
Adults use meditation to help them cope with these pressures, and kids can also benefit from meditation, as it helps them to stay focused, keep control over their emotions and pay attention to themselves and how they feel. Meditation can give them a better sense of who they are, providing them with increased strength and resilience.
This is even more important today, because an increasing number of kids show signs of anxiety and restlessness, even at an early age. There is hardly any tool more convenient for bringing in peace and balance than meditation. And you can easily get your kids to love meditation, provided that you don't pressure them, and that you introduce them with meditation in a playful and fun way.
One of the main differences with adult meditation compared to kid meditation is that adult meditation often focuses on bringing the senses inside the body. Kids must consciously look at their senses first, before they are able to turn them inward.
If you believe your child could benefit from "kid meditation", there are four kinds of exercises you can do that will ensure tranquility, motivation, and sense of self.
We are never without breath. Therefore, teaching children early how to use it to keep things in focus is extremely beneficial to their sense of selves. It works by breathing in and out five times, using their fingers to count while breathing.
The point is, when we slow our breathing down, we also slow down our mind. You can easily see this for yourself. Focus on your breathing and you'll notice that your heart rate will also slow down, bringing in a sense of calm to the body.
With this meditation, song is combined with touch, ensuring that even very young children feel peace and tranquility. It helps to give them a reason to stand tall and proud. Just singing the “Sa Ta Na Ma” syllables or an declaration such as “I Am Strong” can go a long way. With every syllable uttered, each finger should connect with the thumb. Be sure they start with their index finger all the way to the pinky.
This can also be done discreetly, allowing children to sing to themselves in their mind whether they are at home or at school. The exercise is self-soothing and can be done when kids realize they need to relax.
Believe it or not, if a child sits down and focuses on their breathing – in, out, in out – it can do wonders to help them. And, when some thoughts come into their mind, they should be regarded as passing thoughts, such as clouds that pass by in the sky.
While kids don’t sit for excessive amount of time, the idea is a wonderful way to prepare children for adult meditation.
Tell children to sit down with their legs crissed-crossed applesauce and close their eyes. Tell children to use their hearing sense and ring a bell or something that lets them explore the sound. From that, they can practice attentive listening not using the bell or other sound. Ask them to listen to the sounds within their space. What sounds are close? What sounds are further away? What sounds are to the right and what ones are to the left? This meditation can be used wherever a child is.
It’s amazing how many kids actually enjoy sitting down and meditating. You can extend this type of exercise by allowing them to relax and focus on each one of their senses individually.
"Mindful and creative, a child who has neither a past, nor examples to follow, nor value judgments, simply lives, speaks and plays in freedom."
I have a son, and from time to time he gets very frustrated and shows outbursts of anger. Is meditation a good way to help him because I use meditation in my daily practice. Do you have any advice about how to introduce him with meditation? I especially would like to know how you did it from your personal experience. Thanks a lot. ~jenna
The best way to teach meditation to kids is by your own example. As you are already meditating, it is easy. Let your son be around while you are meditating and he will mimic your behavior.
My son is 20 months old and he does exactly what I do while I practice my yogic breathing. Of course, he cannot be still for a long time, but I feel it is a good start.