Welcome back to the Mindful Monday Series in honor of National Meditation Month.
Meditation is a simple strategy that can make life a little calmer and can make you and your children a bit happier. Who wouldn’t want this, right? Last week, the Mindful Monday Series post focused on the benefits of meditation for kids. In part two, we focus on three types of meditation that work well for children. It takes time to master, as does any other skill, but if you help your kids find the method that feels right and you stick with it, you will see that it will have such positive effects on your family. Because we are all individually and wonderfully made, the length of time, the type of practice, and the method you use in the practice can vary. Find the practices that work best for you and your family.
Guided meditation for children involves a guide (that can be you, an app, or a video) helping your child use visualization (images) as the focal point of their thoughts. These images could be their favorite place to visit, like the beach, the mountains, swinging in a hammock in the backyard, or on the nature trail in your community. Utilizing these images can help the children to focus on one thing at a time. As your child focuses on that “happy place” he will begin to calm down and reap the benefits of meditation.
Mindfulness meditation teaches children how to be aware and focuses on being present in the moment. While your child is focusing on the breath (in…out…in…out), she becomes more centered. Mindfulness meditation emphasized the need to be gentle with yourself when other thoughts emerge. It’s less about trying to get rid of other thoughts (not focusing), but more about being aware when those thoughts come and gently bring yourself back to the breath. Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere, all day. You don’t have to sit in a lotus pose to practice. You can practice mindfulness as you are eating (how much is on your fork, how you are chewing, how it feels on your tongue, what does it taste like, etc.). You can also engage in mindfulness meditation while you are walking on a nature trail (listen to the birds, watch the trees sway in the breeze, etc.). This is a great meditation to engage in right before bedtime. Your child can take deep breaths, focusing on the in and out of the breath as he is falling off into a deep sleep.
During mantra meditation, children are taught to repeat a word or phrase to focus on instead of all the other distracting thoughts that may be going on inside their heads. Traditionally Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, is used, but this could be a great opportunity to teach your child the power of positive affirmations that could help your child with personal goals or stressors. One that I use often is I AM (breathing in)…LOVE (breathing out)…I AM…LOVE. You could substitute any words for the world love. I have my son with ADHD repeat I AM (on the breath in)…CALM (on the breath out)…
There are many ways to engage in and enjoy your meditation experiences. Click here to see 5 of our favorite mindfulness activities
Finally, here are a few great apps that are designed to lead your child through a guided meditation. A couple of our favorites are:
Headspace has a tailored program to teach meditation for kids, using fun and engaging activities that teach children the basics of mindfulness.
GoNoodle, used in many schools for brain break activities (movement and meditation), includes an option for parents to use with the children at home.
Stop, Breath, Think is a peaceful app for children ages 5-10 designed in collaboration with Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of Mindful Games.
What’s your families favorite way to practice meditation?
Next week in the Mindful Monday Series we will focus on how to get teenagers to practice more mindfulness.