Friday, July 15, 2016

Introducing Meditation to Children

“If every 8 year old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from this world within one generation.”
- Dalai Lama

Children are natural meditators. It is often easier for them to connect to their original state of peace, love and happiness. But it takes practice and time to get into that natural state of positivity and serenity. Continue with small steps because eventually these small steps, on a regular basis, will lead to enormous results i.e a child who is emotionally and mentally healthy, happy and calm.

Here are a few tips: 

Create a quiet place just for meditation

This can be a room if you have a spare room or a corner in your bedroom or lounge room. You might like to decorate this space with some calming pictures, some of your favorite books, plants, and a special chair or cushion or a bean bag to sit on. Keep this space just for meditation. However, this should not stop you from meditating in a natural setting, such as a beach or a bench in the park.

Start out small

Children are usually able to sit for as many minutes as their age e.g., ten minutes for a ten-year-old. However, you can begin with a shorter session - It is ok to even meditate just for two minutes. Sometimes baby steps work best as small goals are more achievable. Eventually, the hope is to make it a life long habit.

Create a routine

Make it a morning habit or a bedtime routine, or both. The morning, is usually the best time to meditate as it sets the tone for the day. As you start your day, so you live your day. Some prefer to relate it to another established daily activity such as brushing your teeth or going to bed. This way meditation gets easily integrated into your routine.

Communicate and encourage

Talk with your children about the way they feel after meditating. Encourage and applaud the changes they notice or point out changes that you notice in their behavior that they might be unaware of. Praising a child for positive behavior will increase the occurrence of such behavior.

Model the behavior

Meditate with your child. This is clearly the most important tip. Often we see that an athlete’s child is good at sports, or that a musician’s child enjoys playing instruments. Yes, genes matter, but what matters more is what the child observes in his house. Children learn by imitating adults. If you are new to meditation, experiment with guided, silent, or mantra meditations. Children love nature so perhaps a few minutes of mindfully listening to “nature music” might work well.

Practice makes progress

Just like any other activity, Meditation gets better with practice. Just like losing 20 pounds requires discipline and persistent effort in the gym, meditation is a workout for the mind, which requires persistency. Each time you sit to practice, it’s a small success, and you are strengthening those neural pathways in your brain. But consistency is more important than intensity. Five minutes of daily meditation is more important than thirty minutes of meditation once a week. So go ahead, start meditating!