A beginner’s guide to: Children’s meditation
Meditation has a wealth of benefits for all ages. It can help to soothe anxiety, build resilience and emotional literacy and offer a fantastic coping strategy for when the world feels a bit scary.
By Hannah Bullimore
For parents and carers, helping children to cope emotionally with the current lockdown is as much of a concern as education and fitness. Explaining an event such as this that none of us have ever experienced before can be challenging as they’re helping children to deal with emotions that will be understandably fraught at the moment.
Meditation is a fantastic skill for children to learn at any time – in fact, many schools now use it as part of their daily routine, asking children to sit in peace and quiet for a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day. For some children, this might be the only quiet they experience, except when they are lying in bed. Teaching children to be comfortable with quiet and stillness is an important tool for growing up and being comfortable with the huge range of emotions that they will experience as they mature.
Eventually, children begin to feel comfortable practicing meditation on their own, when they feel like they need to find their own moment of stillness and calm. This is an important tool for self-regulation and autonomy – what a fantastic gift to give our children.
However, it can feel overwhelming knowing how to teach a child meditation, particularly if you’re not a fan of meditation yourself or have never given it a go. This guide is designed to help you prepare to meditate with your child and begin meditating for the first time. We also have a Children’s Meditation Booklet with some practical meditation suggestions including colouring, writing down feelings and some meditation ‘stories’ to guide your child into relaxation. These meditation stories can be particularly useful for bedtime or naptime when little ones have busy minds that don’t want to rest.
We also have a list of really helpful resources to help you take your child’s meditation to the next level so that eventually it becomes a part of your family’s routine, just as much as eating dinner and bath time.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been used across the globe for thousands of years. It is not the practice of ‘not thinking’, but instead noticing thoughts and being able to understand our own thoughts and emotions. It can help to still and quieten anxious thoughts and also to create distance with anything scary that is happening in the world today.
For little ones who are used to rushing around and playing games and watching TV, finding some peace and stillness can help to still over-stimulation and calm moments of over-emotion.
Meditation can also help at bedtime to slow down bursts of energy and slowly move towards sleep.
How to Meditate for Grown-Ups
Knowing how to meditate yourself will make it a lot easier to get little ones involved. We are releasing a beginner’s guide to adult meditation soon, but to get started a short meditation will help you to understand what you are asking your child to do.
Begin with a short meditation that focuses on the breath, this will give you something to focus on during your meditation. For example; close your eyes and focus on your breath, as you breathe in think ‘I am breathing in’ and as you breathe out think, ‘I am breathing out’. Repeat this ten times then allow the breath to return to normal, slowly open your eyes.
Do you feel any different? Do you feel a little calmer and more at peace?
The great thing about meditation is that it can be practised anywhere – on your way to school, at the breakfast table, on the way home from the park.
To create a meditation space at home, you could have a few comfortable cushions to sit on or decide that the sofa or your child’s bed will be the space where you go to meditate. The space should be clear of distractions if possible but as you’ll be closing your eyes it’s more important that children are comfortable and able to relax.
Talking about Feelings
Another great benefit of meditation (and yoga) for children is that they can start to understand a wider range of emotions. Many guided meditations for children take us on a journey and follow a story with a lesson and very often they are focused on emotions so that children can begin talking about how they feel – when I’m sad it feels like this, when I’m excited it feels like this.
When we have these conversations during the safety of meditation, it allows children to open up at other times as well.
Helping children stay calm and feel able to discuss how they are feeling has never been as important as it is now. Meditation is a fantastic coping mechanism as it positively helps children deal with their emotions and learn to self-regulate.
Once the current situation is over, this is something children can make use of into adulthood with meditation having been proven to lower anxiety, improve depression and build emotional resilience.
We have created a helpful workbook and meditation guide specifically for children which includes meditation stories, exercises and colouring sheets.
Saana Cushions is a local business which makes cushions from a selection of upcycled fabrics, such as wool blankets, discarded theatre backdrops, denim jeans and quality vintage curtains. They offer a fantastic family set so you can meditate mindfully with your little ones.