Of all the tips and techniques available to help children learn to meditate, there is one that stands out the most. In order to teach your children meditation they must learn by example. You, as the parent, should have a meditation practice in place; one that your children see you practice regularly. Not only will it show them the basics of meditation but it will also give you a calmer perspective in raising and teaching your children.
The Dalai Lama is quoted, "If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation." This is a gift to ourselves as well as our children that we cannot afford not to give. Meditation gives a child self-empowerment, the ability to feel safe and a better sense and understanding of their own needs and emotions. Their physical and mental health are increased by this practice. This is especially helpful for children with hyper-activity disorders like ADHD. Giving a child the ability and knowledge that they are in fact in control of their emotions and feelings can and does change their entire world.
You do not have to prescribe to any specific religion or spiritual path to meditate; it is open and available for everyone. As adults, many have found the benefits of meditation later in life and want to pass this gift onto their children. The age of your child will dictate the technique and time frame for each meditation session. Some feel that Yoga Nidra is one of the best forms of meditation for children as it allows for a very deep relaxation. This can be done in the evening before bedtime or at any point during the day. Especially if your child has experienced something and they need to find a way to calm down and relax. Techniques will very, but there are some basics that parents should follow.
- Have your child relax into a comfortable position. For Yoga Nidra, the best position is in Shavasana (corpse pose). Have your child lay on their back; head, shoulders and spine in alignment; palms facing up and legs straight, feet slightly apart.
- Guide your child in an awareness of their body. In the beginning this may not be very natural for your child. Have them tense each body part one at a time, hold, then release it and relax. This will begin to teach them how to move their awareness through their body. In time you can guide them to simply feel the vibrations or energy flowing in each part of their body.
- Guide your child in an awareness of their breath. Have them take 3 slow deep breaths to further their relaxation. Ask them to be aware of each breath as they take them, breathing in slowly and then out.
- Reassure your child that they are safe and protected. Possible suggestions for this would be to have them encounter a guardian (animal, angel, person), who will always be with them. Have the guardian give them a cloak of protection that they will wear during the meditation.
- Have your child release any worries or fears they may be holding onto. Have your child's guardian walk them first to the 'Worry Tree'. This is an ancient tree whose job it is to collect all the worries and fears so your child can release them. Have your child see each worry/fear as a ribbon, tell them to pin or tie each ribbon to the tree. Then have their guardian walk them away from the tree, thus releasing the worries and fears.
Once your child is relaxed and receptive the door is wide open on what type of meditation to proceed with. This is a time to explore various methods and find what works best for each child. In the beginning it is best to use guided meditations. Walk your child through a short story or adventure. Leave the ending of the meditation open for them to finish the exploration or story for themselves allowing them to drift off to sleep. Or you can walk them through the story in its entirety and then gently call them back into the awareness of their bodies and into wakefulness.
As your child progresses they can begin silent meditations or listening to soft background music. Invite them to join your silent meditations; using this time to bond with them. Create a sign that your child can hang on their doorknob of their bedrooms with something like, 'Please be quiet, meditation in progress', thus allowing them to request their own private quiet time. For those of us practicing Wicca, have your child keep their Book of Shadows (BOS) or a journal handy to record any experiences they have. This is a great opportunity to have your child record their own progress; something they can look back on in years to come and pass on to their children. Building this experience into a family tradition will strengthen the bond of love and open communication for everyone.
Don't feel discouraged in the beginning. There are so many techniques available and practice will bring rewards. You can use the many examples of meditation scripts available online or in books, or you can write your own. You know best what your child likes and responds to. Use your intuition to guide you on this path. What landscapes, colors, activities, animals and play does your child prefer? Find a script you like and rewrite it, replacing the places and interactions with those your child will openly respond to. There is no right or wrong way to put together a meditation. The goal is to find a way of teaching your child to relax, calm themselves and fully connect with themselves in their own unique and intimate way.
Children can be taught empathy and compassion for the world through meditation. Have your child experience what it is like to soar in the sky with the birds, sway in the breeze with the trees, discover life in an ant colony. Connecting with nature and Mother Earth are great ways of teaching our children about our interconnectedness and why it is our sacred job to care for Her. Below are listed various sites that give good examples of scripts and meditations for children of all ages as well as additional information for the parents on how to get started. See this as an opportunity to open up a whole new world to your children, they will be grateful to you that you did.
Here are some site suggestions with meditations and information to help you get started: