Meditation is like breakfast for the brain
Do you have a pre-teen child in your life that you’d like to be closer to? Perhaps you are a parent or an uncle or aunt or grandparent and you’d like to find a way to support the child in your life to be happier and healthier. A very special thing we can do for children is to meditate with them.
Busy parents may think that it isn’t possible to fit in one more thing into the hectic day of activities that already exists. If you knew however that doing it could create a stronger bond with your child and feed them in a way that food and activities cannot, then would you somehow find the time?
Perhaps you know that meditation would be of benefit in your child’s life but they aren’t so keen? Below are some tips to get them started:
#1: Start the day well
Meditation is like breakfast for the brain. A great time to do it is just after waking, before eating when the lure of TV, friends or other distractions haven’t surfaced yet. Sit on the bed with your child and both take five slow breaths then rest for five minutes mentally observing the flow of the natural breath. Tell your child to imagine a smile spreading over their whole body and that it is there inside keeping them company throughout their whole day.
#2 Boost their confidence
Children love to show you how good they are. Get them to demonstrate how flexible their body is and to teach you how to sit like a yogi. Give small challenges such as “Let’s sit still for 10 minutes without moving except for our breathing”. Each new skill they learn helps to boost their feeling of self worth.
#3 Create the atmosphere
You can make a special place together that you both know is your meditation corner. Light a candle, place some flowers and add any pictures you both like. Make it comfortable and an appealing place to be.
#4 Breath fully
Check whether the right and left nostrils are open at the same strength or different. Then take some slow breaths and check if the nostrils are open at the same strength afterwards. HINT: Don’t put any meaning on how much the nostrils are open, just let them wonder about it and build their self awareness.
If your child is feeling lazy or low in energy, do some bellows breaths!
Before sleep, encourage them to rest their hands on their abdomen and breathe out with a humming sound. Alternatively tell them to chant OM slowly as they breathe out. They will find both techniques are very relaxing.
#5 Delight the senses
Children find delight in the external senses so ask them to notice smells and sounds when they begin to meditate then gradually move to thoughts and feelings.
Utilise the senses with flowers, incense, and music. Ask them to feel the fabric of clothes against their skin and the sensation of the air around them.
Make your time together an adventure. Tell your child to close their eyes and that they are in for surprise. Give them one piece of their favourite fruit to feel, smell and taste and then to eat as slowly as possible and with full awareness.
#6 Inspire the imagination
Tell a story to settle them. Many children are very active and find it impossible to sit quietly at the beginning. Story telling utilises their imagination and helps them to focus their attention. Gradually you can lead them to being still and quiet.
Invite their friends to join for chanting or a short meditation session together. Have a party with some upbeat dance tunes from different cultures or yoga music and then finish with quieter music and a few minutes of sitting in meditation.
Remember the mystery and wonderment of the universe together. Lie down outside and look up at the sky or the leaves of the trees or the stars at night. At the same time ask your child to feel the breath moving in and out of their body and wonder about the mystery of life within them.
The benefits are manifold:
If you and your child take just 15 minutes a day for some physical activity or yoga with a few deep relaxing breaths and a short meditation practice you’ll both feel calm and centred. The relationship bond will be strong and your child will enter adolescence with the confidence to navigate the challenges ahead.
Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks
By Janette Scott