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6 Steps to Teaching Your Child Meditation

Family Health Parenting

6 Steps to Teaching Your Child Meditation

Most of us know that meditation is a very healthy and positive habit, whether we are actively doing it ourselves or not. But more and more research is showing that children too, can really benefit from a regular meditation habit. For instance, it can help reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen the immune system, and it can improve relationships at home and at school. Meditation can also decrease aggressiveness, improve behavior and attitude, improve focus, memory and concentration and promote inner peace. Meditation has also proven effective in helping kids release negative thoughts and behaviors and in building self-confidence. These positive effects sure sound like it’s worth our while teaching our children (and ourselves) to meditate.

You don’t need to be a seasoned meditation guru to teach your child to meditate either. Here are some simple steps to get you started:

1.  Breathe
Breathing is really the anchor of meditation. By noticing how the breath enters and exits the body, your child can release distracting thoughts and help them stay in the moment. Younger children can be taught to put their hands on their belly and feel how the breath brings their belly in and out.

2.  Let go of perfection
Meditation is not about sitting in a perfect lotus pose, or reciting a certain mantra. Meditation is a highly personal experience, and what feels comfortable to you might not feel comfortable to your child. You can meditate sitting on a pillow on the floor, on a chair or lying down on a bed (although this is not recommended if your child is tired as it is quite easy to fall asleep while meditating). Your eyes can be closed, or focused on an object, or you can tell your child to try to see out the sides of their eyes, using their peripheral vision. You can do it in silence, use music or listen to a guided meditation. There is not right or wrong way to do it. Let your child find what works for them. At first they will likely be fidgety and find it hard to keep their eyes closed, this is understandable. Just remind them to focus on their breathing and with practice, being still will get easier.

3.  Use the imagination
Tell your child to think of a beautiful, peaceful place and picture that place in their mind. It can be somewhere they’ve been and loved, or it can be a completely imaginary place with colours and shapes they like. When they picture it in their mind, it should make them feel happy, calm and relaxed. You can help them get started with some ideas, but let your child create their own special place. This can be a helpful exercise for us adults too. We don’t use our imagination nearly as often as we should.

4.  Don’t “not” think
People often assume that meditation is about not thinking, about emptying your head completely. That is not really possible and will just lead to frustration. The idea of meditation is to become an objective observer of what comes into your mind. As you are repeating a mantra, focusing on your breath, or visualizing your peaceful place, and a thought about your to-do list pops up, simply acknowledge that it’s there and then let it go. This can be an abstract thing to teach your child, so just be patient and let them know that when thoughts come into their mind, it’s not a bad thing. Just notice it, and go back to your focus. We are trying to calm the thoughts that are whirling around in our minds so that we feel relaxed, not stressed. It takes time and practice, but eventually it will be a great way to let go of stressful thoughts and worries.

5.  Make it special
Designating a special “meditation spot” can help your child feel more comfortable. It can be as simple as some pillows in a corner of a room, or comfy chair. Your child can choose some special items to keep there that help the positive emotions come through, like a family picture or picture of a pet, maybe a special rock that they can hold while meditating or a special blanket.

6.  Lead by example
Few things teach others as well as leading by example. If your child see you do it regularly, it becomes the norm and easier for you to teach. And it will be just as beneficial to you!

So how long should you meditate for? Start out small, especially with younger children, and build your way up. Start with 3-5 minutes a day, and each week increase it a little bit. Depending on the type of meditation, you can use a timer or listen to a piece of music the right length. The idea is that you don’t want your child to worry about the time, just let go and the timer/guided meditation will let you know when you’re done. Teaching your child to still their mind, relax and connect with their true selves is a gift that will benefit them all their lives!

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