Tips for teaching your children to meditate
When we feel bad or uncomfortable, instead of acting badly, we should learn to listen to our feelings and sensations that come and go. We have several ways to respond, and one of them is to stop and be aware of what we are feeling, to embrace the emotion without judgement. It's not about not feeling, it's about understanding what we are feeling.
Children feel challenged, dejected, angry and frustrated all the time. The current pace, technology, the rush, mean that they never have moments of calm, of withdrawing to feel. Moreover, they believe that doing nothing is boring. It is very difficult for a child to make them understand what mindfulness is and its benefits, but they can understand how to practice it. In order to teach your children to meditate we recommend these simple tips that will help you in your day to day life:
Create a quiet space where they can go when they need peace.
If you practice, they will practice
If you don't meditate, they won't meditate. You need to develop your own meditation practice and then explain to your children how it works. The more they see you practising stillness, the more they will want to join in, and if they see it as beneficial for you, they will know it's beneficial for them. Once they develop that curiosity and become interested in what you are doing, you will have a daily meditation partner. They will even ask for it when they feel they need it.
Breathing is the starting and ending point of any kind of meditation. Children can also learn this quickly by noticing how their body changes as they breathe; their chest rises and falls as they inhale, then exhale. As they focus on this, their mind is on their breathing and not on anything else - with Soul Mates stories you'll see how easy it is! Start with short meditations, then increase the practice as they get older and it becomes more comfortable.
Children love stories and visualisations, so include them in your meditation exercise to get good results. With the Soul Mates stories it will be easy for them to learn to visualise becoming the Sun, the Moon, the Cloud, the Wave or the Earth. They will become a giant Moon as they breathe in and fill their belly, and then a waning Moon as they breathe out.
For older children (and adults), the ten-counting breath is perfect for learning self-control and focusing on the breath. One, inhale, exhale. Two, inhale, exhale. Three, inhale, exhale. Up to 5 and when you get it, you can try up to 10. It is a much more difficult concentration exercise than it might seem and also ideal for falling asleep.
The meditation - story of I Am Cloud is perfect to find out how you feel at that moment. What kind of weather do you have inside you? A rainbow? A storm cloud? Close your eyes and ask them to think about how they feel. You can do the same exercise to show and accept that we are also bad and that nothing is wrong. After your child tells you how they feel, tell them to accept their feelings and not to try to change them. The sun will appear. Let's learn together that emotions change often and negative thoughts also disappear, just like the weather.
Be patient with the learning process of meditation.
Keeping a child still in meditation is a real challenge, but with patience and finding the right methods for your child, you can do it. Not everyone's meditation works the same way, you will see which exercises work best for them. Don't get overwhelmed, with effort you'll get there in the end!