Meditation for Children

First Steps to Meditation

When your child is born, begin right away to spend time when your child is calm just talking to them, describe, in detail, various things you see, experiences etc. It does not matter that your child is unable to understand your words, they will learn to become engaged with your voice and through this learn to be still. Then move to just sitting in silence holding them and without holding them (so they don't become dependent upon you for their mediation time), this experience of just being is completely natural to a baby and if you follow these exercises with your child, it will encourage them to keep the ability to be at one and in the now.

When you bring your child home set aside a few minutes each day, for your child to join you in meditation. Choose a time when you know your child will be quiet, and stop immediately your child becomes distressed, or anxious. You do not want to have your child associate anything but pleasantness with meditation time. Simply set up as you would for your own mediation, candles, quiet space, or music if you prefer (though make sure to spend some of the time in silence too) — just be aware of incenses and oils that may be harmful to your young child by inhalation on via skin contact, this is basically the only real precaution you need to take at this age. You can then either lay the child on a blanket, cushion or on the floor if it is soft, or you may choose to sometimes (only sometimes) to meditate holding your child, this needs to be a rare occurrence as you want to teach your child how to be within their own self, first and foremost. Holding them in meditation is more an act of closeness and bonding for you and the child rather than teaching.

As your child grows and is able to sit, they can sit beside you as long as they are able to sit still for. This may only be a few moments at a time, and you should be prepared to have two meditation times, one with your child(ren), and another for yourself until your children are old enough to participate in a full mediation (which will vary from child to child).

As your child learns more language and is able to understand colors and can sit still you can begin to introduce a bedtime meditation. This involves having the child, close their eyes and listen to either you read a story or tell them a mediation — do not discriminate between reading a bedtime story and the meditation, have them lay comfortably and listen with their eyes closed so they can imagine the story, and put themselves in the position of their chosen character. When doing a guided mediation they will do the same, see themselves in the role of the 'character' which is actually them.

You may be required to be inventive in how you present your children with meditations, you will be required to look beyond your own imaginings and to become immersed in a more unrestricted world of childhood belief and imagination, but you will also learn a lot from taking the time to grow in this with your child.

Teaching Meditation to Older Children

If you begin the first steps to meditating as above this stage will be much easier, however many parents come to teaching their children mediation later, the following will take this into consideration.

Before beginning with meditation talk with your child, this must be something the child is open to trying. If your child seems reluctant do not push it, wait a couple of weeks before broaching the subject again. If your child seems interested but a little fearful, assure them that meditation is just like dreaming when your awake. Most children however seem to take to meditation extremely well, their minds are open to new experiences and they learn quicker than an adult, you may soon find you have quite a good partner for meditating if your children take to it!

When beginning to teach a child to meditate, begin with allowing the child to sit with you while you meditate. This sets the scene for the child making an impression on them as to the nature of what they are going to attempt.

Try to make these first experiences for them as pleasant as you can. Indulge all of the child's senses light incense, meditate by the soft glow of candle light, play soft music, make the child a meditation robe (out of a material that feels nice against the skin) and ground after by drinking and eating fresh fruits (exotic ones are nice for this sort of occasion) and a glass of iced water and lemon, or if your lucky enough to live near a river, a beach, or just a quiet park you can meditate with nature and your child.

Take your time during this stage, explain to the child that they must find a comfortable spot to sit or lay in because they won't be moving for a while.

When they say they are comfortable tell them that they do not have to stay as long as you but that when they have finished meditating they may get up quietly and leave. This is very important, if the child feels this is something they must do they will not stick with it long enough to find out it's benefits for themselves.

Tell the child to close their eyes softly and listen to their breathing, then sit beside them and begin to meditate.

Do not be discouraged if a child gets up and leaves five seconds after starting, just continue and finish your usual meditation. If they feel no pressure to stay they will join you each time you meditate and as they notice the time difference between your meditations and theirs, they will stay longer. This process will take a different time for each child and some will decide they don't want to do it at this time.

When your child is able to maintain this state as long as you, different types of meditations can be used.

A simple first meditation for children to try is a candle meditation. (This is also a great meditation for anyone new to meditation or those seeking to improve their visualization capabilities.)

Candle Meditation

Preparation Create a Sacred Space or cast a Circle. Make yourself and the child comfortable, sit facing each other with the lit candle between you.

Meditation Breathe deeply into the stomach, imagine your stomach being filled with the light of the candle, feel the light filling your body right down to your fingers and down to your toes.

The light makes you feel all soft and relaxed. Now look at the candle, don't stare, just softly focus your eyes on the candle. When you feel you can see the candle in your mind close your eyes and see how clearly you can recreate the image.

Now tell the child to look at the candle for a while and then close their eyes and see if they can see it in their imagination just like it looks in front of them. Let them try it a couple of times but don't over do it, it takes time. Which is why the adult should try it first so that both they and the child realizes it takes practice.

After a couple of tries the child should be able to see an image of a candle in their minds it probably won't look exactly like the one in front of them, but they will be getting the idea.

When the child feels they can recreate the object you can substitute other objects, starting with simple shapes moving up to more complex ones.

When the child has reached this stage of visualizing objects they can begin to visualize their goals hopes and dreams, and so no longer are you teacher but now a fellow traveler!

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