As parents, we have all seen our children copy our behaviour. Some good ones and some not so good ones. The point here is that we as parents have a great influence over what choice our children make. For example, if we are conscious about choosing and cooking healthy food at home, chances are high that our children will follow this habit even long after they leave home. So if we are interested in our children to meditate, one of the best approach we can take is to meditate ourselves.
Meditation is a learned skill and is extremely useful. It teaches us how to reboot ourself, and teaches us how to centre in the midst of chaos. It gives us much needed space to breathe and just be.
Contrary to what you might think or heard, meditation is not difficult. You don’t need to be taught to meditate. All that is required is some quiet space to sit down for at least 3 minutes. Put a timer on with your smart phone, sit down, close your eyes, then shift your attention to your breathing. Make exhalation slightly longer than your inhalation. Become the observer of your monkey mind (that endless chatter inside your head) as if you are watching a movie. CHOOSE NOT TO pay attention to your mind and its messages. That is all there is to it in meditation. Go on and give it a try now! If you need extra help and motivation, there are apps of guided meditation you can download from here.
Even 3 minutes of meditation is said to have a very positive effect on our overall being for both adults and children alike.
Here is a list of 10 proven meditation benefits (not only 5!) especially for young adults / children.
reduced somatic stress
reduced hostility and conflicts with peers
reduced substance use
increased cognitive retention
increased optimism and positive emotions
increased feelings of happiness and well-being
improved social skills
improved academic performance
I have listed two meditation techniques that are age appropriate. There are, however, numerous ways in which you can meditate (with mantra, music, gong, certain breathing patterns, etc…).
Blow the Balloon Meditation
(age 2 - 8)
Sit down with your child comfortably and start breathing slowly from nose (you can also ask them to close their eyes).
Start making the inhalation and exaltation longer as if there is a balloon inside the belly and you are trying to make the balloon larger by inhaling and smaller by exhaling. Ask your kids to visualise the colour, the shape, and the size of the balloon in their belly.
Encourage the kids to really deflate the balloon each time they exhale (you can exaggerate this by making your entire body like a balloon, collapsing on the ground as you exhale. Younger kids will love this silliness from you!)
Continue for few minutes
The point here is to make the kids learn how to relax their body. Do not force them to relax or try to follow the instruction line by line, though! Have fun and be playful!
Body Scan Nidra
(age 8 and up, yes, yourself included!)
Lie down on the back in relaxed manner with eyes closed
Start taking few conscious breaths from your nostril
Guide them to focus their attention and breathe in to the right foot, starting with their toes.
Name and breathe into as many parts of the body as possible in the same manner, bringing your attention in to the part of the body being named
Sample progression would be:
Right foot, left foot
Right ankle and calf, left ankle and calf
Right knee, left knee (back and front)
Right thigh, left thigh (back, front, inner and outer)
Lower belly, upper belly
Lower back. middle back and upper back
Chest and heart
Between shoulder blades
Right upper arm, left upper arm
Right forearm, left forearm
Right wrist and hand, left wrist and hand
Top of the shoulders
Back, side and front of the neck
Then scan the whole body once or twice at the end
Let us not forget that we have the next generation of mothers, fathers, world leaders, corporate warriors, scientists, peace makers and philosophers at home. The destiny of our planet is in their hands. Let us gift our children with this precious tool so that they will remember how to center themselves, know how strong, capable, compassionate, loving they truly are.