A little bit of unadulterated playfulness in anticipation of the weekend:
Tag-Archive for » meditation for kids «
Many of us as parents, even those of us who appreciate meditation in our own lives, are hesitant to introduce it to our children.
We are intimidated by the prospect, knowing how difficult it is ourselves to find that often illusive place of quiet. ’If I struggle in quieting my own monkey mind, how can I possibly help my child do it?’
In truth, it can actually be easier. Consider how rapt your child is during story time. In that spirit, children are remarkably receptive to sitting in quiet and in peaceful attention. The perfect beginning.
Through guided meditation to start with, the child is better able to connect with that peaceful place within, losing themselves in the comfort of your voice or that of a recording, and the urgings of gentle instruction.
The benefits of meditation are immeasurable. As with adults, meditation is shown to reduce stress while enhancing self-esteem. It also offers a healthy means of relaxation during doctor’s visits, exams and in preparation for various sports events and performances.
According to Sarah Wood, a facilitator in child meditation, and author of the book Sensational Meditation for Children, teachers who build meditation into lesson plans report their classroom environments being more peaceful and attribute this to their students’ ability to express compassion to each other.
“The transformation we as adults experience when we become partners in learning with our children” is exhilarating, says Wood, who also observes “learning a meditation practice is a journey in growth, whether it is spiritual, emotional or mental.”
To help you get started with your own child, have a listen: childrengettingstarted
While it may take several sessions, any practitioner of meditation will agree that there can be no down-side to offering a child such an experience and the knowledge of how to acheive it themselves. Any time, any where. There is such valuable power in that.
For more ideas and resources, please visit Children’s Meditation.
For more information, read more at Suite101: The Benefits of Child Meditation: Giving Children Tools to Nurture Their Bodies, Minds and Spirits http://www.suite101.com/content/the-benefits-of-child-meditation-a22687#ixzz1BOorGkMd
Finally… a school district that has actually taken on the “higher” in higher learning!
A British Columbia school district has approved, among other courses such as Musical Theatre and Outdoor Pursuits, yoga in an effort to address kids’ interest and demand.
According to Superintendent Jan Unwin, “the wide variety of courses is intended to keep kids in school by offering them something they will be interested in.”
This marks a new era in education (finally!?) as those interests that were once considered ‘alternative’, particularly given the spiritual component to something like yoga, are now seen as so positive and constructive as to be considered part of a public school curriculum.
Yoga has proven benefits in the areas of self-esteem and healthy body image, two critical aspects of children’s development, particularly for girls.
Introducing adolescents to the power and beauty of yoga really only introduces and reinforces the power and beauty in themselves…
which is something everyone needs!
Good on School District No. 42 for recognizing it!
We’ve all known for ever the importance of a healthy breakfast to children’s learning, but one British primary school is also recognizing the benefits of incorporating yoga and meditation into education.
According to a recent article in The London Evening Standard, the children of Riverside Primary in Rotherhithe were provided with not only a proper breakfast heading into their primary SAT’s but also, under the guidance of a local yoga instructor, exercises in breathing and yoga.
The results astounded as the school, serving an area of considerable social disadvantage, found themselves ranked top of the Evening Standard’s league tables today, helping pupils soar more than a year ahead of their peers between the ages of seven and 11.
While the school made a concerted effort not to merely teach to the controversial tests, contributing to the remarkable results, the additional support in the form of healthy breakfast and relaxation exercises without doubt paid off this year.
I’ve raved written in the past about this wonderful book of stories before.
In Jon M. Muth’s Zen Shorts, Stillwater, the serene and friendly Giant Panda of a neighbour to three children, siblings Karl, Michael and Addy, offers his own brand of Zen guidance and advice.
Through ancient stories infused with traditional Buddhist teachings, Stillwater provides solutions to the childen’s various individual conflicts.
These stories provide such tangible messages through simple yet engaging narrative along with wonderful artwork, moving between the full colour drawings of Stillwater and the children, and black & white sketches of the various ancient tales.
And while, yes, this is another plug gentle encouragement to give this book to your child, or your neighbour’s child, or your sister’s husband’s mother’s child… or yourself for that matter, it’s really one of the stories I’d like to specifically address here.
It’s the tale of an old farmer and his son. In short, and without infringing on copyright(!), the story has the farmer’s son buying a horse (good luck?), horse running away (bad luck?), horse returning with two other wild horses (good luck?), boy attempts to ride one of them and is thrown, breaking his leg (bad luck?), shortly thereafter visited by military recruiters who won’t accept him due to his injury (good luck?)….
And so it is. With each new circumstance the ever-sympathetic neighbours qualify it with either judgement, “such good luck” or conversely, “such bad luck”, to which the wise old farmer consistently and simply replies, “maybe’.
The message, as summed up by young Michael to the gentle Stillwater, “Maybe good luck and bad luck are all mixed up. You never know what will happen next.”
Hmmmmmm. Wonderful messages and a certain must read for any child… or adult….
We have been trying to implement a regular routine of meditation for the kids…
It’s short and sweet, don’t get me wrong.
While eleven year old sits and is definitely interested in ‘getting it’, the others are typical kids and do what they have to to endure the seemingling endless minutes. There’s a bit of fidgeting by seven-year-old. And five-year-old lone girl child feels the need to act out the scenes I describe to facilitate relaxation: eyes scrunched shut, turning her face upwards with an exaggerated smile towards a fictional sun or scratching and digging her toes into the floor as though it’s actually warm Caribbean sand.
Regardless the fidgeting and dramatic performance, it’s a practice. It’s a practice that will provide them with a personally valuable life skill. The ability of being able to still the mind, get quiet, calm down, gather. It’s a practice that will serve them well as they grow and mature and the anxieties and stresses of life intensify. They don’t understand that now, certainly. But I take heart in this being a gift I can give them that will provide them infinite rewards as they evolve into teens and adults.
However, as we- parents- make our way through our own transition right now, implementing new strategies to manage our stress and keep thinking positively, and as we enjoy the benefits of these strategies, it becomes clear that these few minutes early in the day are only part of the picture.
The practice extends beyond just a few minutes of focusing on good feelings for a few moments. It’s an exercise in looking for, recognizing, and even getting excited anticipating, good things throughout the day. Little things, sometimes really seemingly insignificant- inconsequential- things, but together add up to a wonderful day.
As homeschoolers we’re together most of the day. This lends itself to great quality time, but also to more opportunities for conflict and irritation.
So, we’ve begun making lists throughout the day… making a brief stop here and there to quickly consider and jot down those good things that happen, no matter how small. Say, really simply, ‘I had leftover pizza for lunch…” or “I got my language arts done in only one hour…” or “Sister helped me build my fort…”
These little things end up being pretty easy to identify (particularly for kids!) and what’s remarkable about this exercise -an introduction to appreciation and gratitude- is how fast the lists are compiled and how much fun it becomes!
There is no right or wrong in the lists, as long as they’re positive and that they please us to look back upon.
It brings colour to the day.
Of course, this practice doesn’t eliminate the bumps and challenges that can be part of our days, but it gives us a little precious perspective, balancing the conflicts, trials and frustrations with appreciation, fun and wonder.
In a recent post I addressed, through the words of Deepak Choprah, the importance and power of meditation in enhancing the lives of our children.
Through meditation- sitting in stillness, engaging and developing the frontal portion of the brain, we encourage the best in who we can be: compassion, empathy, love, and ultimately, happiness.
And isn’t that really what we want for our kids… particularly knowing that all the stuff (TV, video games, mp3′s and all the rest!) isn’t really doing it. Ironically, at least for my own kids, indulging in these pursuits as fun as they may think they are, tends to make them just plain unpleasant rather than happier!
For those of us who make a practice of sitting in meditation know what hard work it can seem. And if it’s this hard for an adult how possibly can my high energy seven-year-old son manage? Well, not on his own, that’s for sure…
“Thump… thump, thump!”
“What’s going on in there?”
Now, unless my child is gifted at telekinesis, somehow the school chairs came to be overturned with a cat cowering beneath for cover!
Well, as eager as I may have been, the ol’ bones were not so. The juices took some time to get flowing, the furnace some time to get warm and therefore the joints, muscles and tendons some time to let go and allow me to move, albeit slowly, through my practice.
What also took some time, was me convincing myself… or shall I say the gentle voice inside my head, when it was finally able to make itself heard over the mean, nasty critical voice inside my head, convinced me after several turns through less than energetic sun salutations A and B, that I could pull back. That it was quite alright to take it slow. Let everything move at a pace it- I- needed rather than that which I’d have preferred.
That takes some doing, I must say. Outside of a vacation, and even then it can be questionable, what with all the activities we tend to plan… we are so not conditioned to taking a step back into ease. Into letting our bodies say, through their tension and tenderness, ‘go gently’. Closing the door to the judgment of our own minds and expectations and allowing quiet and serenity through instead.
We are far more inclined to push forward, ignoring the signs and twinges, in our quest for the ‘challenge’ that is often synonomous with yoga, and the ‘workout’ that yoga, in our 21st century fast & furious frame of mind, has become. Also, as with many of us, I enjoy the feeling of pushing and challenging my body in yoga in the seemingly unlimited ways it can do so. It’s an activity in which my body typically accepts, embraces and responds to pushing further… hence it’s one I enjoy the most.
But sometimes in yoga- as in life- the challenge comes in stepping back, embracing ease. Consciously saying, and accepting- that with this general feeling of lethargy, I will pass on my powerful sequence today and enjoy some balance. Perhaps, with this little twang in my lower back, I might better enjoy some gentle focus on the core.
I’ll revisit this all again in my practice tomorrow… but today I take satisfaction in having done it… and listened.
Those of us who know, understand and feel what yoga does for our own mental and physical health certainly agree that yoga can do the same for our kids… maybe more.
According to scientists, if you see the dancer turning clockwise, you’re operating more dominantly from the right-brain… left-brain if she’s turning counter-clockwise. Supposedly, if you stare at her foot and its shadow, you can actually turn her in the other direction. Ummmm… OK… yes, but now I have a headache….
To summarize the characteristics of each…
LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS: uses logic, detail oriented, facts rule, words and language, present and past, math and science, comprehension and knowing, order/pattern perception, reality based, forms strategies, practical, safe;
RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS: uses feeling, “big picture” oriented, imagination rules, symbols and images, present and future, philosophy & religion, can “get it” (i.e. meaning), believes, appreciates, spatial perception, knows object function, fantasy based, presents possibilities, impetuous and risk taking.
The bottom line is we need both to function. But sometimes… say, when you’re trying something new, or wanting to accomplish a work of some creativity… or perhaps just needing to get through a yoga practice with a shred of self-esteem (ahem!), it’s nice to just turn off that left side… that pesky and insistent part of your head that continuously reminds you how ridiculously bad you are at whatever you are doing. Sometimes it’s important- no, essential- to just go with the flow and allow the freedom of imagination, fantasy and creativity, the right- brain, to take hold.
Not an easy task. However, as I found during my last practice, it’s possible…